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Flag of Greenland

Map of Greenland
Introduction Greenland
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 was made an integral part of Denmark in 1953. It joined the European Community (now the EU) with Denmark in 1973 but withdrew in 1985 over a dispute over stringent fishing quotas. 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:
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% (2005)
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, but close to one-quarter of the population lives in the capital, Nuuk; world's second largest ice cap
People Greenland
56,361 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 24.5% (male 7,072/female 6,740)
15-64 years: 68.9% (male 20,904/female 17,919)
65 years and over: 6.6% (male 1,768/female 1,958) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 34 years
male: 35.3 years
female: 32.3 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.03% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
15.93 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
7.84 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
-8.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.12 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 15.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.73 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.94 years
male: 66.36 years
female: 73.6 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.4 children born/woman (2006 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% (2000)
Evangelical Lutheran
Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, English
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2001 est.)
Government Greenland
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Greenland
local long form: none
local short form: Kalaallit Nunaat
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
name: Nuuk (Godthab)
geographic coordinates: 64 11 N, 51 44 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 is divided into four time zones
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; 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 Soren MOLLER (since April 2005)
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 December 2006)
election results: Hans ENOKSEN elected prime minister
note: government coalition - Siumut and Inuit Ataqatigiit
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)
elections: last held on 15 November 2005 (next to be held by December 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - Siumut 30.7%, Demokratiit 22.8%, Inuit Ataqatigiit 22.6%, Atassut Party 19.1%; Katusseqatigiit 4.1%, other 0.7%; seats by party - Siumut 10, Demokratiit 7, Inuit Ataqatigiit 7, Atassut 6, Katusseqatigiit 1
note: two representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 8 February 2005 (next to be held February 2009); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Siumut 1, Inuit Ataqatigiit 1
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:
Atassut Party (Solidarity, a conservative party favoring continuing close relations with Denmark) [Finn KARLSEN]; 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; 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:
Arctic Council, NC, NIB, UPU
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 mineral exploration activities, it will take a number of 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$1.1 billion (2001 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
GDP - real growth rate:
1.8% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$20,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Labor force:
24,500 (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
10% (2000 est.)
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.)
revenues: $646 million
expenditures: $629 million; including capital expenditures of $85 million (1999)
Agriculture - products:
forage crops, garden and greenhouse vegetables; sheep, 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:
Electricity - production:
242.2 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0%
note: Greenland is shifting its electricity production from fossil fuel to hydropower production (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
225.3 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
3,850 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
$480 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
fish and fish products 94% (prawns 63%)
Exports - partners:
Denmark 62.2%, Japan 12.3%, China 5.2% (2005)
$601 million c.i.f. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Denmark 67.2%, Sweden 19.4%, Ireland 3.6% (2005)
Debt - external:
$25 million (1999)
Economic aid - recipient:
$380 million subsidy from Denmark (1997)
Currency (code):
Danish krone (DKK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Danish kroner per US dollar - 5.9969 (2005), 5.9911 (2004), 6.5877 (2003), 7.8947 (2002), 8.3228 (2001)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Greenland
Telephones - main lines in use:
25,300 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
19,900 (2002)
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:
8,775 (2005)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
38,000 (2005)
Transportation Greenland
14 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 5 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2006)
total: NA
note: while there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-town transport takes place either by sea or air (2005)
Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1000 GRT or over) 4,236 GRT/400 DWT
by type: passenger 2
registered in other countries: 2 (Cyprus 1, Denmark 1) (2005)
Ports and terminals:
Military Greenland
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 14,653 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 10,199 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 440 (2005 est.)
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Denmark
Transnational Issues Greenland
Disputes - international:
managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland

This page was last updated on 19 September, 2006