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World Mission

Greenland

Basic info

  • Area: 2,166,086 sq km
  • Population: 57,713
  • Infant mortality: 8.9 deaths/1,000 live births
  • Life expectancy: 72.6 years
  • Urbanisation: 86.8% of total population
  • Literacy: 100%

History

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 became an integral part of the Danish Realm 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 remains a member of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association of the EU. Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament; the law went into effect the following year. Greenland voted in favour of increased self-rule in November 2008 and acquired greater responsibility for internal affairs when the Act on Greenland Self-Government was signed into law in June 2009. Denmark, however, continues to exercise control over several policy areas on behalf of Greenland, including foreign affairs, security, and financial policy in consultation with Greenland's Self-Rule Government.

Environment

Greenland is largely covered by a vast, thick ice sheet. Coastal areas are inhabitable and have population centres, generally in the south.

Economy

Greenland’s economy depends on exports of shrimp and fish, and on a substantial subsidy from the Danish Government. Fish account for over 90% of its exports, subjecting the economy to price fluctuations. The subsidy from the Danish Government is budgeted to be about $535 million in 2017, more than 50% of government revenues, and 25% of GDP. The economy is expanding after a period of decline. In 2016 the economy grew 4.6% compared to 1.1% in 2015 and negative growth in the years 2013-14. For 2017 the economy is expected to continue to expand at a more subdued rate. The expansion has been driven by larger quotas for shrimp, the predominant Greenlandic export, and also by increased activity in the construction sector, especially in Nuuk, the capital. Private consumption and tourism also are contributing to GDP growth more than in previous years. Tourism in Greenland has grown annually around 20% in 2015 and 2016, largely a result of increasing numbers of cruise lines now operating in Greenland's western and southern waters during the peak summer tourism season. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays a dominant role in Greenland's economy. During the last decade the Greenland Home Rule Government pursued conservative fiscal and monetary policies, but public pressure has increased for better schools, health care, and retirement systems. The budget was in deficit in 2014 and 2016, but public debt remains low at about 5% of GDP. The government plans a balanced budget for the 2017–20 period. Significant challenges face the island, including low levels of qualified labour, geographic dispersion, lack of industry diversification, the long-term sustainability of the public budget, and a declining population due to emigration. Hydrocarbon exploration has ceased with declining oil prices. The island has potential for natural resource exploitation with rare-earth, uranium, and iron ore mineral projects proposed, but its icy terrain and lack of infrastructure hinder development.

Ethnic groups

Ethnic Groups(%)

Inuit

88

Danish and other

12

Religion

Religion(%)

Protestantism

95.5

Agnostic

2.3

Catholicism

0.2

Languages

  • 88%

    Greenlandic

  • 10%

    Danish