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  Introduction Back To Top

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 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, although Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland's foreign affairs in consultation with Greenland's Home Rule Government.

  Geography Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters

Map references:
Arctic Region

Geographic coordinates:
72 00 N, 40 00 W

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunnbjorn 3,700 m

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

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

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.)

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

44,087 km

Area - comparative:
slightly more than three times the size of Texas

Irrigated land:

Environment - current issues:
protection of the arctic environment; preservation of the Inuit traditional way of life, including whaling and seal hunting

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

Natural hazards:
continuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
2.22 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.99 male(s)/female
total population: 1.12 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
100 (1999)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.46 years
male: 66.81 years
female: 72.25 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2001 est.)

Net migration rate:
-5.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Greenlander 88% (Inuit and Greenland-born whites), Danish and others 12% (2000)

Median age:
total: 33.5 years
male: 34.9 years
female: 31.8 years (2008 est.)

57,564 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:

Population growth rate:
0.064% (2008 est.)

Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, English

Death rate:
8.23 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 11.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.84 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9.48 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Age structure:
0-14 years: 23.5% (male 6,867/female 6,634)
15-64 years: 69.9% (male 21,683/female 18,575)
65 years and over: 6.6% (male 1,892/female 1,913) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
14.87 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Evangelical Lutheran

noun: Greenlander(s)
adjective: Greenlandic

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

National holiday:
June 21 (longest day)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:
parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: conservationists; environmentalists

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

Dependency status:
part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979

International organization participation:
Arctic Council, NC, NIB, UPU

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%, IA 22.6%, Atassut Party 19.1%; Katusseqatigiit 4.1%, other 0.7%; seats by party - Siumut 10, Demokratiit 7, IA 7, Atassut 6, Katusseqatigiit 1
note: two representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 13 November 2007 (next to be held in November 2011); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Siumut 1, Inuit Ataqatigiit 1

Legal system:
the laws of Denmark, where applicable, apply

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

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)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Greenland
local long form: none
local short form: Kalaallit Nunaat

Political parties and leaders:
Atassut Party (Solidarity) [Finn KARLSEN] (a conservative party favoring continuing close relations with Denmark); Demokratiit [Per BERTHELSEN]; Inuit Ataqatigiit or IA (Eskimo Brotherhood) [Josef MOTZFELDT] (a leftist party favoring complete independence from Denmark rather than home rule); Kattusseqatigiit (Candidate List) (an independent right-of-center party with no official platform); Siumut (Forward Party) [Hans ENOKSEN] (a social democratic party advocating more distinct Greenlandic identity and greater autonomy from Denmark)

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 is divided into four time zones

5 June 1953 (Danish constitution)

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 results: Hans ENOKSEN reelected prime minister
note: government coalition - Siumut and Inuit Ataqatigiit

Administrative divisions:
3 districts (landsdele); Avannaa (Nordgronland), Tunu (Ostgronland), Kitaa (Vestgronland)
note: there are 18 municipalities in Greenland

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)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Denmark 61.8%, Japan 9.9%, Canada 7.3%, China 5.8% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
283.7 million kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Debt - external:
$25 million (1999)

Unemployment rate:
9.3% (2005 est.)

Oil - exports:
149.5 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$20,000 (2001 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$1.1 billion (2001 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.7 billion (2005)

Exchange rates:
Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar - 5.0236 (2008 est.), 5.4797 (2007), 5.9468 (2006), 5.9969 (2005), 5.9911 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
2% (2005 est.)

Labor force:
32,120 (2004)

Imports - partners:
Denmark 68.1%, Sweden 19.3%, Canada 2.5% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1% (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Oil - imports:
4,089 bbl/day (2005)

$480 million f.o.b. (2006)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
Danish krone (DKK)

Economy - overview:
The economy remains critically dependent on exports of fish and a substantial subsidy 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. Several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration activities are ongoing and in 2007 a US firm signed an agreement with the Greenland Home Rule government to study the feasibility of building a multi-billion dollar aluminum smelter and hydropower plant.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products

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

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Electricity - production:
305 million kWh (2006 est.)

$712 million c.i.f. (2006)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Oil - consumption:
3,927 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
fish and fish products 94% (prawns 63%) (2001 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:
$512 million; note - subsidy from Denmark (2005)

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)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $1.36 billion
expenditures: $1.27 billion (2005)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
52,000 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
36,000 (2006)

30,000 (1998 est.)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 5, FM 12, shortwave 0 (1998)

30,000 (1998 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
66,400 (2007)

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

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 - 15 (12 Intelsat, 1 Eutelsat, 2 Americom GE-2 (all Atlantic Ocean)) (2000)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)

Internet hosts:
14,132 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:

Merchant marine:
total: 2
by type: cargo 1, passenger 1 (2008)

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 (2007)

note: although there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-urban transport takes place either by sea or air (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2007)

14 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 15,221 (2008 est.)

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Denmark

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 10,739 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
no regular military forces

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 534
female: 503 (2008 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland

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