Jurisdiction Project

Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat)

The world's largest island, Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland)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 European Union) 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.

Land: 2,166,086 sq km. of which, 410,449 sq km. are ice free, 1,755,637 sq km. are ice covered. Largest Distances: North-South: 2,670 km; East-West:1,050 km. Highest Point: Gunnbjørns Fjord 3,733 m above sea level. Water: 44,087 km of coastline, maritime claims of 200 NM. -1 h (GMT) Greenland East; -2 h (GMT) Greenland Eastern Standard Time; -3 h (GMT) Greenland South West; -4 h (GMT) Greenland Northwest;

The world's largest non-continental island on the northern American continent between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada. The northernmost point of Greenland, Cape Morris Jesup, is only 740 km from the North Pole. The southernmost point is Cape Farewell, which lies at about the same latitude as Oslo Norway.

Latitude and Longitude:
72 00 N, 40 00 W

Time Zone:

Total Land Area:


arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters: South Greenland (winter) -6, (summer) 7; North Greenland (winter) -35, (summer) 3.6.

Natural Resources:
coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, gold, platinum, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydro power, possible oil and gas


Total GDP:
2001 1,100,000,000.00 USD

Per Capita GDP:
2001 20,000.00 USD
0.00 USD
0.00 USD

% of GDP per Sector:
  Primary Secondary Tertiary

% of Population Employed by Sector
  Primary Secondary Tertiary
% % %

External Aid/Remittances:
(1997): $380 million subsidy from Denmark; (2005) $512 million subsidy from Denmark

2001 - 1.8%; Population Growth Rate: -0.01%; Expenditure of general government sector, by function (by Million DDK) 2001: Total 7.069; General public services 770; Defence, etc. 261; Law and order and safety 188; Education 1.215; Health 844; Social security and welfare services 1.703; Housing and community amenities 375; Religious, recreational and cultural services 278; Energy supplies 89; Fishing, agriculture, forestry, etc. 98; Mining and quarrying, manufacturing and construction 245; Communications 298; Commerce, etc. 360; Other functions 347;

Labour Force:
2003 31,763
2004 32,120

Year: Unemployment Rate (% of pop.)
2003 7.4%

fish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut), handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards, mining.

Niche Industry:
Fishing and related, tourism.

May 2007: Air Greenland began commercial flights between Kangerlussuaq, a former military airstrip to the south, and Baltimore in Maryland. American eco-tourists can now fly straight to the Danish territory without going via Copenhagen.


Imports and Exports:

Tot. Value of Imports 599,000,000.00 USD (2005)
From Eu:
Import Partners (EU:)
Partners Outside EU:
Import Partners: Denmark 69.9%, Sweden 16.3%, Norway 3.7% (2006)
Tot. Value of Exports 404000000 USD (2005)
To Eu:
Export Partners:
Partners Outside EU::
Export Partners: Denmark 67.8%, Japan 11.9%, China 5.5% (2006)
Main Imports: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products
Main Exports: fish and fish products 94% (prawns 63%)



Number of Airports: 14
14 Airports, 9 of which have paved runways, 5 with unpaved. The main 3 Civil Airports are located in Narsarsuq, Nuuk (Godthab), Sondre Stromfjord (Kangerlussuaq) and one US Air Force base located in Thule.

Number of Main Ports:
Ports and Harbours: Aasiaat (Egedesminde), Ilulissat (Jakobshavn), Kangerlussuaq, Nanortalik, Narsarsuaq, Nuuk (Godthab), Qaqortoq (Julianehab), Sisimiut (Holsteinsborg), Tasiilaq; 3 Merchant Marine Ships (1 000 GRT and over): 2 Cargo, 1 passenger.



There are no highways or roads between the towns; inter-town transport takes place either by sea or air. 4 211 Automobiles total in Greenland (that includes cars, taxis, ambulance, buses, fire engines, commercial vehicles and trucks, motor cycles, and other such vehicles). 44.6 vehicles per 1 000 people.


Other Forms of Transportation:

Economic Zones:

Energy Policy:
January 2008: Rising temperatures are giving Greenland the opportunity to tap into billions of barrels of oil and gas trapped under ice. Greenland plans to auction off rights to crude-oil and natural-gas reserves officials believe will become feasible to exploit once the ice recedes. The island is setting a delicate balance for itself as both a bellwether to environmentalists looking for evidence of global warming, and as the latest frontier for oil and gas companies. Greenland's Bureau of Mines and Petroleum awarded oil and gas leases for tracts off its west coast, which is already free of ice for at least five months out of the year. The agency is now in the early stages of planning a similar sale for the northeast and northwest coasts, where exploration is difficult to impossible, even in summer months. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that offshore northeastern Greenland alone holds up to 31.4 billion barrels of undiscovered oil equivalent, which includes natural gas. If proven, those resources would make the region the 19th-largest hydrocarbon reserve in the world, on par with the oil sands in Alberta. Thick, year-round ice has made exploration impossible until recently, but as temperatures have risen in the Arctic, more and more of Greenland's territorial waters are being exposed.

Year Total Energy Production (Mwh) Thermic (Mwh) Geothermic (Mwh) Other (Mwh) Total Energy Consumption (Mwh) Domestic (Mwh) Commercial (Mwh) Public Service (Mwh) Industry (Mwh) Public Lighting (Mwh)
2005 300,000 0 0 0 279,000 0 0 0 0 0


Official Currency:
Danish Krone (DKK)

Banking and Insurance:
Number of Banks and Credit Unions:
Number of Agricultural Credit Unions:
Number of Insurance Companies:

 In 1996, there are 2 banks in Greenland: GrønlandsBANKEN A/S and Nuna Bank A/S. These banks handled depository and loan activities in Greenland. At the end of 1996 the managements of the two banks took the first steps towards a merger. Following the decisions of the general meetings of the banks in April 1997, GrønlandsBANKEN A/S and Nuna Bank A/S merged as from 1 January 1997. The increased monopoly position which GrønlandsBANKEN A/S experienced after the merger led to an increased interest among banking intermediaries via Danish banks. In 1998 a group of people, primarily private businessmen from Nuuk, contacted Sparbank Vest in Denmark. This led to Sparbank Vest establishing cooperation with an intermediary and as from 1 January 2000, the bank established a representative office in Nuuk. As from 1 January 2001 the former representative office has been established as an independent branch office with the name of Sparbank Vest Grønland.

Financial Services:


Public Ownership:

Land Use:

forage crops, garden and greenhouse vegetables; sheep, reindeer;

Marine Activity:


Marine Life:

Critical Issues:


Nuuk (Godthab)

Political System:
On 1 May, 1979 Greenland obtained Home Rule from Denmark. This decision indicates that the Greenland Home Rule Government can adopt legislation and administer its own affairs in virtually all areas of governance except policing, the judicial system, foreign affairs, and defence. The Greenland Home Rule Government is comprised of the Parliament (Landstinget), the Cabinet, and the Greenlandic Home Rule Government (Landsstyret). Additionally, Greenlanders elect two members to the Danish parliament (Folketinget). The Greenlandic parliament (Inatsisartut) is composed of 31 representatives who are elected every four years. The parliament appoints a Cabinet that forms the government, which is composed of seven members drawn from political parties securing the most votes. These members of the Inatsisartut are elected by proportional representation (PR). Governmental Structure: Head of State: Queen Margret II of Denmark (since 1972); High Commisioner: Gunnar Martens (since 1995); Head of Government: Prime Minister Hans Enoksen (elected 3 December, 2002).

Political Parties:
(2003) : Akulliit Party; Atassut Party (Solidarity, a conservative party favoring continuing close relations with Denmark); Demokratiit; Inuit Ataqatigiit or IA (Eskimo Brotherhood, a leftist party favoring complete independence from Denmark rather than home rule); Issituup (Polar Party); 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). Composition of Parliament: Percent of seats appropriated in 3 December 2002 election to the Landstinget: 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 note: two representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 20 November 2001. Results: Siumut 1, Inuit Ataqatigiit 1.

Important Legislation:
Constitution: 1953 Danish Constitution. The Charter: All jurisdictional powers are contained in the 1 May, 1979 Home Rule Act, which outlines the legislative power division between the Danish and Greenlandic authorities. 1992 Landsting Act on Competition: Its aim was to promote competition and hence strengthen efficacy in the production and turnover of goods and services. Additionally, this act also prevents the abuse of dominance in a particular market by ensuring transparency of competitive conditions and by introducing measures against harmful effects of the limitations of competition. 1994 Landsting Order No. 9 of 3rd November on Activation of the Unemployed allows municipalities to establish and run courses and job creation schemes for the unemployed registered in the municipality by activating the social benefits funds.

Principal Taxes:

Associated Power:
Dependency of the Danish Crown

Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Denmark make up the Danish realm. Nationality: Greenlander(s), Greenlandic.



Population (2003): 56 676;

Island Area (km sq.) Population % of Total Population
Greenland 410 56,344 %

Year Resident Population

Age of Population: 0-14 15-24 25-49 50-64 65 and up
2003 14833 7,839 28,991 2,544 2,469
2007 13523 0 0 38,913 3,908


Migration 2002: Net immigration 288; Immigrations, total 2,414; Persons born in Greenland 981; Persons born outside Greenland 1,433; Emigration, total 2,126; Persons born in Greenland 624; Persons born outside Greenland 1,502. Net migration rate (2007 est.) -8.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population

Crude Birth Rate:
2003 15.96%
2007 1.601%

Life Expedctancy:
total population: 70.23 years male: 66.65 years female: 73.9 years (2007 est.)

Crude Death Rate:
2003 7.7%
2007 0.793%

Greenlander 88% (Inuit and Greenland born whites), Danish and others 12%.

Class Division:

Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, English

Evangelical Lutheran

 (2002): 72%

Education System:
During the school year 2001/02 11,368 pupils attended school. There were 24 town schools, 61 settlement schools and two remedial schools, while some children were taught at sheep farms and hunting outposts. 1 year of pre-school, followed by an 8 year primary school, after which the pupils may continue in a 2 year continuation school. Thus, school is compulsory for all pupils for nine years, with the possibility of continuing for another three years as a so called 1 year course school offers additional education after 10th and 11th grades have been completed. High schools in Greenland are found in Nuuk, Aasiaat, and Qaqortoq, and are a part of the Danish school system, thus coming under the authority of the Danish Ministry of Education.

Total Pre-schools:(2001)
Total Primary Schools  
First Level:
Second Level:
Third Level:
Total Secondary Schools:
Total Professional Schools


Number of Schools per Island:


Students Enrolled:


Medical Services:
17 Hospitals located throughout Greenland employing some 1 200 people. Medical services are free in Greenland as in all in the Danish Realm.


 About 3000 BC, a Greek sailor, Pytheas of Massila, brought back stories of a great northern land six days sail north of Britain. The story of Pytheas marked the first mention of the island in European chronicles and the first reported contact by Europeans. Called Thule or Ultima Thule, the Farthest Land, by the Romans, knowledge of the island gradually faded into myth and legend. Earlier, the indigenous Inuit population called the country Nunaat, meaning country of human beings. Today, they call the country Kalaallit Nunaat, which means country of Greenlanders. Norse Vikings, led by Eric the Red, rediscovered the island in AD 982. In an effort to make the island more attractive to potential colonialists, Eric named the frozen land Greenland. The Vikings establised settlements on the narrow coastal plains in the south where argiculture was possible. The number of Viking settlers grew to some 10 000 by the twelfth century. The Vikings reported in the the thirteenth century the first contacts with the Inuit who had migration across the polar lands about 2 500 BC. The Norwegian kingdom gained control of the colony in 1261 and ruled the island though a separate Greenland assembly. Following the 1380 royal union of the Norwegian and Danish Kingdoms, the Danes took over the islands administration but did not attempt further colonization. Norway, then ruled by Denmark, began to resettle the island in 1721, however the European influence remained slight. In 1815 Denmark lost Norway to Sweden but retained Greenland through an oversight at the Congress of Vienna. Underpopulated and economically unimportant, the island remaied a forgotten outpost, ignored by the Danish government. The United States of America established military bases on the island furing World War II and at the end of the war offerd to purchase Greeland from Denmark. The Danes refused bu allowed the maintenance of American miliaty bases as part of a mutual defense treaty. The islands status changed to that of a Danish county in 1953, therefore reaping the benefits of being part of the Danish welfare system that helped to eradicate the tuberculosis and other European diseases that had ravaged the population. Immigration from Denmark increased during the 1950s and 1960s, the influx generating an extensive ethic mixing and intermarriage. The Greenlanders, dependent on the products of the land an sea, actively opposed foreign investment and the development of the Arctic oil deposits. The opposition formed the first nationals group, Suimut, in 1977. Fearing that unchecked development threatened their culture and way of life, the nationalists mobilized. In 1979, 70% of Greenlanders voted for home rule. In 1982 they voted to withdraw their autonomous state from the European Economic Community, the first and, so far, only territory to do so.

Referendum on the European Union February 23th 1982. Question: Should Greenland continue in the European Union: For 47%, Against 53.1%, Percent voting: 74.9%.

Recent Significant Events:
The islands three major political parties have developed different views of the future. Suimut works for eventual independence. Atassut, with the support of the Danish minority, is pro-European. Ataqatiqiit favours independence from Denmark as the first step to the establishment of a transpolar Inuit state uniting all Inuit peoples. In March 1991 the Greenlanders voted to reject a move to review their membership in the European Community, thus defeating the pro-European faction and moved a bit closer towards eventual independence.

Music, Dance, Handicraft and Patrimony:
The Inuit of Greenland share a musical tradition with related peoples across the Canadian territories of the Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, as well as the US state of Alaska and part of eastern Russia. Greenlandic Inuit are part of the Eastern Arctic group; the Eastern Arctic Inuit of Canada and Alaska are part of the same music area as the Central Arctic Inuit, as opposed to the distinct styles of the Western Inuit. Greenlandic Inuit music is largely based around singing and drums, the latter being generally reserved for large celebrations and other gatherings. Though there is much folk vocal music, there is no Inuit purely instrumental tradition with no accompaniment by singing or dancing Greenlandic drums are mostly frame drums made of animal skin stretched over a wooden frame and decorated with decorative and symbolic motifs by the drummer. Aside from drums, whistles, bull-roarers and buzzers are also widespread, and the Jew's harp and fiddle are both found, most likely recent imports.


‘Greenland in Figures: 2003.’ Statistics Greenland. November 6, 2003. Available < http://www.statgreen.gl/dk/aarbog/Greenland%20in%20figures%202003.pdf > December 10, 2004. Minihan, James. ‘Kallaalit-Nunaat.’ Nations Without States: a historical dictionary of contemporary national movements. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. 1996 CIA World Factbook 2004. Faroe Islands. November 30 2004. Available < http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/fo.html > Government of Denmark. ‘Greenland: An Overview.’ November 30, 2004. Available December 10, 2004. Greenland Home Rule. ‘The Home Rule.’ November 30, 2004. Available < http://dk.nanoq.gl/tema.asp?page=tema&objno=31835 > December 10, 2004.

International Herald Tribune: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/01/14/business/NA-FIN-US-Greenland-Oil-Companies.php



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