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The world's largest non-continental island, about 81% ice-capped, Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament. The law went into effect the following year. Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland's foreign affairs.
Geography Greenland
Northern North America, island between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada
Geographic coordinates:
72 00 N, 40 00 W
Map references:
Arctic Region
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) (2000 est.)
Area - comparative:
slightly more than three times the size of Texas
Land boundaries:
0 km
44,087 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 3 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or agreed boundaries or median line
exclusive fishing zone: 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
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunnbjorn 3,700 m
Natural resources:
coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, gold, platinum, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
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, but close to one-quarter of the population lives in the capital, Nuuk; world's second largest ice cap
People Greenland
56,384 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 25.5% (male 7,344; female 7,029)
15-64 years: 68.5% (male 20,894; female 17,715)
65 years and over: 6% (male 1,585; female 1,817) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 33.5 years
male: 34.8 years
female: 31.9 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.01% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
15.96 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
7.7 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-8.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.18 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.12 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 16.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 17.62 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.32 years
male: 65.75 years
female: 72.98 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.42 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
100 (1999)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Greenlander(s)
adjective: Greenlandic
Ethnic groups:
Greenlander 88% (Inuit and Greenland-born whites), Danish and others 12% (January 2000)
Evangelical Lutheran
Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, English
definition: NA
total population: NA%
male: NA%
female: NA%
note: similar to Denmark proper
Government Greenland
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Greenland
local short form: Kalaallit Nunaat
local long form: none
Dependency status:
part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979
Government type:
parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy
Nuuk (Godthab)
Administrative divisions:
3 districts (landsdele); Avannaa (Nordgronland), Tunu (Ostgronland), Kitaa (Vestgronland)
note: there are 18 municipalities in Greenland
none (part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979)
note: foreign affairs is the responsibility of Denmark, but Greenland actively participates in international agreements relating to Greenland
National holiday:
June 21 (longest day)
5 June 1953 (Danish constitution)
Legal system:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Gunnar MARTENS (since NA 1995)
note: government coalition - Siumut and Inuit Ataqatigiit
election results: Hans ENOKSEN elected prime minister
head of government: Prime Minister Hans ENOKSEN (since 14 December 2002)
cabinet: Home Rule Government is elected by the Parliament (Landstinget) on the basis of the strength of parties
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; prime minister is elected by Parliament (usually the leader of the majority party); election last held 3 December 2002 (next to be held NA December 2006)
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament or Landstinget (31 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
note: two representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 20 November 2001 (next to be held no later than November 2005); percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Siumut 1, Inuit Ataqatigiit 1
election results: percent of vote by party - Siumut 28.7%, Inuit Ataqatigiit 25.5%, Atassut Party 20.4%, Demokratiit 15.6%, Katusseqatigiit 5.3%; seats by party - Siumut 10, Inuit Ataqatigiit 8, Atassut 7, Demokratiit 5, Katusseqatigiit 1
elections: last held on 3 December 2002 (next to be held by NA December 2006)
Judicial branch:
High Court or Landsret (appeals can be made to the Ostre Landsret or Eastern Division of the High Court or Supreme Court in Copenhagen)
Political parties and leaders:
Akulliit Party [Bjarne KREUTZMANN]; Atassut Party (Solidarity, a conservative party favoring continuing close relations with Denmark) [Augusta SALLING]; Demokratiit [Per BERTHELSEN]; Inuit Ataqatigiit or IA (Eskimo Brotherhood, a leftist party favoring complete independence from Denmark rather than home rule) [Josef MOTZFELDT]; Issituup (Polar Party) [Nicolai HEINRICH]; Kattusseqatigiit (Candidate List, an independent right-of-center party with no official platform [leader NA]; Siumut (Forward Party, a social democratic party advocating more distinct Greenlandic identity and greater autonomy from Denmark) [Hans ENOKSEN]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
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
Economy Greenland
Economy - overview:
The economy remains critically dependent on exports of fish and substantial support from the Danish Government, which supplies about half of government revenues. The public sector, including publicly-owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in the economy. Despite several interesting hydrocarbon and minerals exploration activities, it will take several years before production can materialize. Tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential, and even this is limited due to a short season and high costs.
purchasing power parity - $1.1 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.8% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $20,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.6% (1999 est.)
Labor force:
24,500 (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
10% (2000 est.)
revenues: $646 million
expenditures: $629 million, including capital expenditures of $85 million (1999)
fish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut), handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards, mining
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
245 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
note: Greenland is shifting its electricity production from fossil fuel to hydropower production (2001)
hydro: 0%
other: 0%
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
227.9 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
3,700 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Agriculture - products:
forage crops, garden and greenhouse vegetables; sheep, reindeer; fish
$388 million f.o.b. (2002)
Exports - commodities:
fish and fish products 94% (prawns 63%)
Exports - partners:
Denmark 63.7%, Japan 14.4%, US 5.4%, Thailand 4.6% (2002)
$445 million c.i.f. (2002)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Denmark 82.5%, Norway 8.5%, Russia 1.8% (2002)
Debt - external:
$25 million (1999)
Economic aid - recipient:
$380 million subsidy from Denmark (1997)
Danish krone (DKK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Danish kroner per US dollar - 6.5877 (2003), 7.8947 (2002), 8.323 (2001), 8.083 (2000), 6.976 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Greenland
Telephones - main lines in use:
26,000 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
16,747 (2001)
Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate domestic and international service provided by satellite, cables and microwave radio relay; totally digitalized in 1995
domestic: microwave radio relay and satellite
international: country code - 299; satellite earth stations - 12 Intelsat, 1 Eutelsat, 2 Americom GE-2 (all Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 5, FM 12, shortwave 0 (1998)
30,000 (1998 est.)
Television broadcast stations:
1 publicly-owned station, some local low-power stations, and three AFRTS (US Air Force) stations (1997)
30,000 (1998 est.)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
2,583 (2001)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
20,000 (2002)
Transportation Greenland
0 km
total: NA (there are no roads between towns) (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Aasiaat (Egedesminde), Ilulissat (Jakobshavn), Kangerlussuaq, Nanortalik, Narsarsuaq, Nuuk (Godthab), Qaqortoq (Julianehab), Sisimiut (Holsteinsborg), Tasiilaq
Merchant marine:
total: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 4,593 GRT/3,640 DWT
by type: cargo 2, passenger 1
foreign-owned: Denmark 1 (2003 est.)
14 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 9
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 5 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2003 est.)
Military Greenland
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Denmark
Transnational Issues Greenland
Disputes - international:
uncontested dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland