(part of the Kingdom of Denmark)
[Country Flag of Greenland]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Greenland]



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Location: 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: 2,175,600 sq km
land: 2,175,600 sq km (341,600 sq km ice-free, 1,834,000 sq km ice-covered) (est.)

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

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 44,087 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 3 nm

Climate: arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters

Terrain: 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: zinc, lead, iron ore, coal, molybdenum, gold, platinum, uranium, fish, seals, whales

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 1%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 99% (1993 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 their traditional way of life, including whaling; note—Greenland participates actively in Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC)

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Whaling (extended through Denmark)
signed, but not ratified: NA

Geography—note: dominates North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe; sparse population confined to small settlements along coast


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Population: 59,309 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 26% (male 7,814; female 7,709)
15-64 years: 68% (male 22,099; female 18,487)
65 years and over: 6% (male 1,476; female 1,724) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.9% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 15.83 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 6.88 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.01 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.2 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 21.33 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.46 years
male: 65.29 years
female: 73.65 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.17 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Greenlander(s)
adjective: Greenlandic

Ethnic groups: Greenlander 87% (Eskimos and Greenland-born whites), Danish and others 13%

Religions: Evangelical Lutheran

Languages: Eskimo dialects, Danish, Greenlandic (an Inuit dialect)

Literacy: NA
note: similar to Denmark proper


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

Data code: GL

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

Government type: NA

National capital: Nuuk (Godthab)

Administrative divisions: 3 districts (landsdele); Avannaa (Nordgronland), Tunu (Ostgronland), Kitaa (Vestgronland)

Independence: none (part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979)

National holiday: Birthday of the Queen, 16 April (1940)

Constitution: 5 June 1953 (Danish constitution)

Legal system: Danish

Suffrage: 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)
head of government: Prime Minister Jonathan MOTZFELDT (since NA September 1997); note - named to post to replace Gunnar MARTENS, who retired ahead of scheduled election
cabinet: Landsstyre is formed from the Parliament on the basis of the strength of parties
elections: the queen is a constitutional monarch; high commissioner appointed by the queen; prime minister is elected by the Parliament (usually the leader of the majority party); election last held NA September 1997 (next to be held NA 1999)
election results: Jonathan MOTZFELDT replaced Gunnar MARTENS who retired; percent of parliamentary vote—NA

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Landsting (31 seats; members are elected on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 4 March 1995 (next to be held by 5 March 1999)
election results: percent of vote by party—Siumut 38.4%, Inuit Ataqatigiit 20.3%, Atassut Party 30.1%; seats by party—Siumut 12, Atassut Party 10, Inuit Ataqatigiit 6, conservative splinter grouping 2, independent 1
note: 2 representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 21 September 1994 (next to be held by NA September 1998); percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—Liberals 1, Social Democrats 1; Greenlandic representatives are affiliated with Danish political parties

Judicial branch: High Court or Landsret

Political parties and leaders: two-party ruling coalition; Siumut (Forward Party, a moderate socialist party that advocates more distinct Greenlandic identity and greater autonomy from Denmark) [Lars Emil JOHANSEN, chairman]; Inuit Ataqatigiit or IA (Eskimo Brotherhood, a Marxist-Leninist party that favors complete independence from Denmark rather than home rule) [Josef MOTZFELDT]; Atassut Party (Solidarity, a more conservative party that favors continuing close relations with Denmark) [Daniel SKIFTE]; Akulliit Party [Bjarne KREUTZMANN]; Issituup (Polar Party) [Nicolai HEINRICH]

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


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Economy—overview: Greenland suffered negative economic growth in the early 1990s, but since 1993 the economy has improved. The Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) has pursued a light fiscal policy since the late 1980s which has helped create surpluses in the public budget and low inflation. Since 1990, Greenland has registered a foreign trade deficit following the closure of the last remaining lead and zinc mine in 1989. Greenland today is critically dependent on fishing and fish exports; the shrimp fishery is by far the largest income earner. Despite resumption of 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. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. About half the government revenues come from grants from the Danish Government, an important supplement of GDP.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$945 million (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 0.6% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$16,100 (1997 est.)

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

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 0.6% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 24,500 (1995 est.)

Unemployment rate: 10.5% (1995 est.)

revenues: $706 million
expenditures: $697 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1995)

Industries: fish processing (mainly shrimp), handicrafts, furs, small shipyards

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 106,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 245 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 4,253 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: forage crops, small garden vegetables; sheep, fish

total value: $363.4 million (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: fish and fish products 95%
partners: Denmark 89%, Japan 5%, UK 5%

total value: $421 million (c.i.f., 1995)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment 25%, manufactured goods 18%, food and live animals 11%, petroleum products 6%
partners: Denmark 7.5%, Iceland 3.8%, Japan 3.3%, Norway 3.1%, US 2.4%, Germany 2.4%, Sweden 1.8%

Debt—external: $243 million (1995)

Economic aid: substantial annual subsidy from Denmark—$427 million (1995)

Currency: 1 Danish krone (DKr) = 100 oere

Exchange rates: Danish kroner (DKr) per US$1—6.916 (January 1998), 6.604 (1997), 5.799 (1996), 5.602 (1995), 6.361 (1994), 6.484 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 19,600 (1995 est.)

Telephone system: adequate domestic and international service provided by cables and microwave radio relay; totally digitalized in 1995
domestic: microwave radio relay
international: 2 coaxial submarine cables; satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: one publicly-owned radio and television station (nationwide) and some local radio and TV stations

Radios: 23,000 (1991 est.)

Television broadcast stations: one publicly-owned radio and television station (nationwide) and some local radio and TV stations

Televisions: 12,000 (1991 est.)


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Railways: 0 km

total: 150 km
paved: 60 km
unpaved: 90 km

Ports and harbors: Kangerluarsoruseq, Kangerlussuaq, Nanortalik, Narsarsuaq, Nuuk (Godthab), Sisimiut

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 10 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 7
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (1997 est.)


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Military—note: defense is the responsibility of Denmark

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: none