Greenland facts on every entity in the world

Greenland, the world's largest island, is about 81% ice-capped. Vikings reached the island in the 10th century from Iceland; Danish colonization began in the 18th century, and Greenland became an integral part of the Danish Realm in 1953. It joined the European Community (now the EU) with Denmark in 1973 but withdrew in 1985 over a dispute centered on stringent fishing quotas. Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament; the law went into effect the following year. Greenland voted in favor of increased self-rule in November 2008 and acquired greater responsibility for internal affairs when the Act on Greenland Self-Government was signed into law in June 2009. Denmark, however, continues to exercise control over several policy areas on behalf of Greenland, including foreign affairs, security, and financial policy in consultation with Greenland's Self-Rule Government.



Northern North America, island between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada

Geographic coordinates

72.00° N, 40.00° W

Area 12/257

total: 2,166,086 sq km

land: 2,166,086 sq km (410,449 sq km ice-free, 1,755,637 sq km ice-covered)

Area - comparative

slightly more than three times the size of Texas

Land boundaries

0 km


44,087 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 3 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line

continental shelf: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line


arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters


flat to gradually sloping icecap covers all but a narrow, mountainous, barren, rocky coast


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Gunnbjorn Fjeld 3,700 m

Natural resources

coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, diamonds, gold, platinum, niobium, tantalite, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas

Land use

agricultural land: 0.6%

arable land 0%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0.6%

forest: 0%

other: 99.4% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land


Natural hazards

continuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island

Environment - current issues

protection of the arctic environment; preservation of the Inuit traditional way of life, including whaling and seal hunting

Geography - note

dominates North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe; sparse population confined to small settlements along coast; close to one-quarter of the population lives in the capital, Nuuk; world's second largest ice cap

People and Society


noun: Greenlander(s)

adjective: Greenlandic

Ethnic groups

Inuit 88%, Danish and other 12% (2010 est.)


Greenlandic (East Inuit) (official), Danish (official), English


Evangelical Lutheran, traditional Inuit spiritual beliefs

Population 206/238

57,733 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 21.35% (male 6,263/female 6,064)

15-24 years: 16.2% (male 4,736/female 4,615)

25-54 years: 42.03% (male 12,751/female 11,516)

55-64 years: 11.87% (male 3,858/female 2,996)

65 years and over: 8.55% (male 2,640/female 2,294) (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 33.7 years

male: 34.9 years

female: 32.5 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 196/233

0% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 135/224

14.48 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 77/225

8.49 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 198/222

-5.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 86.4% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 0.74% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

NUUK (capital) 17,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.11 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.29 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.15 male(s)/female

total population: 1.1 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 143/224

total: 9.23 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 10.54 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 144/224

total population: 72.1 years

male: 69.41 years

female: 74.92 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 118/224

2.03 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Physicians density

1.67 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

5.8 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source


urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population


urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population


urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths



Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Greenland

local long form: none

local short form: Kalaallit Nunaat

note: named by Norwegian adventurer Erik THORVALDSSON (Erik the Red) in 985 in order to entice settlers to the island

Government type

parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy


name: Nuuk (Godthab)

geographic coordinates: 64.11° N, 51.45° W

time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

note: Greenland has four time zones

Administrative divisions

4 municipalities (kommuner, singular kommune); Kujalleq, Qaasuitsup, Qeqqata, Sermersooq

note: the North and East Greenland National Park (Avannaarsuani Tunumilu Nuna Allanngutsaaliugaq) and the Thule Air Base in Pituffik (in northwest Greenland) are two unincorporated areas; the national park's 972,000 sq km - about 46% of the island - make it the largest national park in the world and also the most northerly


none (extensive self-rule as part of the Kingdom of Denmark; foreign affairs is the responsibility of Denmark, but Greenland actively participates in international agreements relating to Greenland)

National holiday

June 21 (longest day)


previous 1953 (Greenland established as a constituency in the Danish constitution), 1979 (Greenland Home Rule Act); latest 21 June 2009 (Greenland Self-Government Act) (2015)

Legal system

the laws of Denmark apply


see Denmark


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Mikaela ENGELL (since April 2011)

head of government: Prime Minister Kim KIELSEN (since 30 September 2014)

cabinet: Home Rule Government elected by the Parliament (Landsting) on the basis of the strength of parties

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; prime minister indirectly elected by Parliament

election results: Kim KIELSEN elected prime minister; Parliament vote - Kim KIELSEN (S) 34.3%, Sara OLSVIG (IA) 33.2%, Anda ULDUM (D) 11.8%, other 20.7%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament or Inatsisartut (Landsting) (31 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)

note: two representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 15 September 2011 (next to be held by September 2015); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Siumut 1, Inuit Ataqatigiit 1

elections: last held on 28 November 2014 (next to be held by 2018)

election results: percent of vote by party - S 34.6%, IA 33.5%, D 11.9%, PN 11.7%, A 6.6%, other 1.7%; seats by party - S 11, IA 11, D 4, PN 3, A 2 (2013)

Judicial branch

highest court(s): High Court of Greenland (consists of the presiding professional judge and 2 lay assessors); note - appeals beyond the High Court of Greenland can be heard by the Supreme Court (in Copenhagen)

judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the monarch upon the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Council, a 6-member independent body of judges and lawyers; judges appointed for life with retirement at age 70

subordinate courts: Court of Greenland; 18 district or magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

Democrats Party (Demokraatit) or D [Jens B. FREDERIKSEN]

Forward Party (Siumut) or S [Aleqa HAMMOND]

Inuit Community (Inuit Ataqatigiit) or IA [Kuupik KLEIST]

Inuit Party (Partii Inuit) or PI [Nikku OLSEN]

Partii Naleraq or PN [Hans ENOKSEN]

Solidarity Party (Atassut) or A [Gerhardt PETERSEN]

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: conservationists; environmentalists

International organization participation

Arctic Council, ICC, NC, NIB, UPU

Flag description

two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red with a large disk slightly to the hoist side of center - the top half of the disk is red, the bottom half is white; the design represents the sun reflecting off a field of ice; the colors are the same as those of the Danish flag and symbolize Greenland's links to the Kingdom of Denmark

National symbol(s)

polar bear; national colors: red, white

National anthem

name: "Nunarput utoqqarsuanngoravit" ("Our Country, Who's Become So Old" also translated as "You Our Ancient Land")

lyrics/music: Henrik LUND/Jonathan PETERSEN

note: adopted 1916; the government also recognizes "Nuna asiilasooq" as a secondary anthem


Economy - overview

The economy remains critically dependent on exports of shrimp and fish, income from resource exploration and extraction, and on a substantial subsidy from the Danish Government. The subsidy was budgeted to be about $651 million in 2012, approximately 56% of government revenues that year.

The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. Greenland's real GDP contracted about 1% in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown, but is estimated to have grown marginally in 2010-15.

During the last decade the Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) pursued conservative fiscal and monetary policies, but public pressure has increased for better schools, health care and retirement systems.

The Greenlandic economy has benefited from increasing catches and exports of shrimp, Greenland halibut and, more recently, crabs. Due to Greenland's continued dependence on exports of fish - which accounted for 89% of exports in 2010 - the economy remains very sensitive to external demand.

The relative ease with which Greenland has weathered the economic crisis is due to increased hydrocarbon and mineral exploration and extraction activities, a high level of construction activity in the Nuuk area and the increasing price of fish and shrimp. International consortia are increasingly active in exploring for hydrocarbon resources off Greenland's western coast, and international studies indicate the potential for oil and gas fields in northern and northeastern Greenland. In May 2007, a US aluminum producer concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Greenland Home Rule Government to build an aluminum smelter and a power generation facility, which takes advantage of Greenland's abundant hydropower potential. Within the area of mining, olivine sand continues to be produced and gold production has resumed in south Greenland, while rare-earth and iron ore mineral projects have been proposed or planned elsewhere on the island.

Tourism also offers another avenue of economic growth for Greenland, with increasing numbers of cruise lines now operating in Greenland's western and southern waters during the peak summer tourism season.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 193/230

$2.173 billion (2011 est.)

$2.154 billion (2010 est.)

$2.165 billion (2009 est.)

note: data are in 2011 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.16 billion (2011 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 182/225

0.9% (2011 est.)

-0.5% (2010 est.)

1.5% (2009 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 43/230

$37,900 (2008 est.)

$38,100 (2007 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 13.9%

industry: 19.2%

services: 67% (2012 est.)

Agriculture - products

sheep, cow, reindeer, fish


fish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut); gold, niobium, tantalite, uranium, iron and diamond mining; handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force 207/233

26,990 (2012 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 13.9%

industry: 19.2%

services: 67% (2012 est.)

Unemployment rate 107/207

9.4% (2013 est.)

4.2% (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line

9.2% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $1.72 billion

expenditures: $1.68 billion (2010)

Taxes and other revenues 4/219

79.6% of GDP (2010)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 14/220

1.9% of GDP (2010)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 103/226

1.8% (2012 est.)

2.8% (2011 est.)

Exports 178/224

$384.3 million (2010)

$358 million (2009)

Exports - commodities

fish and fish products 89%, metals 10% (2008 est.)

Exports - partners

Denmark 60.7%, Japan 10.4%, China 8.4% (2014)

Imports 184/223

$814.2 million (2010)

$726 million (2009)

Imports - commodities

machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products

Imports - partners

Denmark 60.4%, Sweden 16.9%, Iceland 10.6% (2014)

Debt - external 196/206

$36.4 million (2010)

$58 million (2009)

Exchange rates

Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -

6.588 (2015 est.)

5.6125 (2014 est.)

5.3687 (2013 est.)

5.79 (2012 est.)

5.3687 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 175/220

314 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 180/219

292 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 145/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 156/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 173/214

106,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 12/214

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 101/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 176/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 179/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 142/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 131/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 198/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 140/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 189/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 160/212

7,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 185/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 146/213

6,971 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 195/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 149/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 108/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 203/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 145/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 177/212

604,900 Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 191/219

total subscriptions: 17,200

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 30 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 200/217

total: 60,800

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 105 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: adequate domestic and international service provided by satellite, cables, and microwave radio relay; totally digital since 1995

domestic: microwave radio relay and satellite

international: country code - 299; satellite earth stations - 15 (12 Intelsat, 1 Eutelsat, 2 Americom GE-2 (all Atlantic Ocean)) (2000)

Broadcast media

the Greenland Broadcasting Company provides public radio and TV services throughout the island with a broadcast station and a series of repeaters; a few private local TV and radio stations; Danish public radio rebroadcasts are available (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 5, FM 14, shortwave 0 (2008)

Television broadcast stations

1 (plus some local low-power stations, and 3 American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) stations (1997)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 123/232

15,645 (2012)

Internet users 192/217

total: 40,100

percent of population: 69.5% (2014 est.)


Airports 147/236

15 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 10

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 6 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 5

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 2 (2013)


note: although there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-urban transport is either by sea or by air (2012)

Merchant marine 156/156

registered in other countries: 1 (Denmark 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Sisimiut

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular military forces

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland; Denmark (Greenland) and Norway have made submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental shelf (CLCS) and Russia is collecting additional data to augment its 2001 CLCS submission