The World Factbook (1990)/Greenland

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(part of the Danish realm)

World Factbook (1990) Greenland.jpg

 See regional map II


Total area: 2,175,600 km²; land area: 341,700 km² (ice free)

Comparative area: slightly more than three times the size of Texas

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 44,087 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 4 nm
Continental shelf: 200 meters or to depth of exploitation
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 3 nm

Disputes: Denmark has challenged Norway's maritime claims between Greenland and Jan Mayen

Climate: arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters

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

Natural resources: zinc, lead, iron ore, coal, molybdenum, cryolite, uranium, fish

Land use: 0% arable land; 0% permanent crops; 1% meadows and pastures; NEGL% forest and woodland; 99% other

Environment: sparse population confined to small settlements along coast; continuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island

Note: dominates North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe


Population: 56,078 (July 1990), growth rate 1.2% (1990)

Birth rate: 20 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 8 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 28 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 62 years male, 68 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.2 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Greenlander(s); adjective—Greenlandic

Ethnic divisions: 86% Greenlander (Eskimos and Greenland-born Caucasians), 14% Danish

Religion: Evangelical Lutheran

Language: Eskimo dialects, Danish

Literacy: 99%

Labor force: 22,800; largely engaged in fishing, hunting, sheep breeding

Organized labor: NA


Long-form name: none

Type: part of the Danish realm; self-governing overseas administrative division

Capital: Nuuk (Godthåb)

Administrative divisions: 3 municipalities (kommuner, singular—kommun); Nordgrønland, Ostgrønland, Vestgrønland

Independence: part of the Danish realm; self-governing overseas administrative division

Constitution: Danish

Legal system: Danish

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

Executive branch: Danish monarch, high commissioner, home rule chairman, prime minister, Cabinet (Landsstyre)

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (Landsting)

Judicial branch: High Court (Landsret)

Leaders: Chief of State—Queen MARGRETHE II (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Bent KLINTE (since NA);

Head of Government—Home Rule Chairman Jonathan MOTZFELDT (since NA May 1979)

Political parties: Siumut (moderate socialist, advocates more distinct Greenlandic identity and greater autonomy from Denmark); Atassut Party (more conservative, favors continuing close relations with Denmark); Inuit Ataqatigiit (Marxist-Leninist party that favors complete independence from Denmark rather than home rule); Polar Party (Conservative-Greenland Nationalist)

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: Parliament—last held on 27 May 1987 (next to be held by 27 May 1991); results—Siumut 39.8%, Atassut Party 40.1%, Inuit Ataqatigiit 15.3%, Polar Party 4.5%; seats—(27 total) Siumut 11, Atassut Party 11, Inuit Ataqatigiit 4, Polar Party 1;

Danish Parliament—last held on 10 May 1988 (next to be held by 10 May 1992); Greenland elects two representatives to the Danish Parliament; results—(percent of vote by party) NA; seats—(2 total) number of seats by party NA

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

Flag: the flag of Denmark is used


Overview: Over the past 25 years, the economy has changed from one based on subsistence whaling, hunting, and fishing to one dependent on foreign trade. Fishing is still the most important industry, accounting for over two-thirds of exports and about 25% of the population's income. Exploitation of mineral resources is limited to lead and zinc. Maintenance of a social welfare system similar to Denmark's has given the public sector a dominant role in the economy. Greenland is heavily dependent on an annual subsidy of about $400 million from the Danish Government.

GNP: $500 million, per capita $9,000; real growth rate 5% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.9% (1987)

Unemployment rate: 10%

Budget: revenues $380 million; expenditures $380 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1985)

Exports: $386.2 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—fish and fish products, metallic ores and concentrates; partners—Denmark 76%, FRG 7%, Sweden 5%

Imports: $445.6 million (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and transport equipment, food products; partners—Denmark 66%, Norway 5%, Sweden 4%, FRG 4%, Japan 4% US 3%

External debt: $445 million (1988)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 84,000 kW capacity; 176 million kWh produced, 3,180 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: fish processing, lead and zinc mining, handicrafts

Agriculture: sector dominated by fishing and sheep raising; crops limited to forage and small garden vegetables; 1987 fish catch of 101,000 metric tons

Aid: none

Currency: Danish krone (plural—kroner); 1 Danish krone (DKr) = 100 øre

Exchange rates: Danish kroner (DKr) per US$1—6.560 (January 1990), 7.310 (1989), 6.732 (1988), 6.840 (1987), 8.091 (1986), 10.596 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 80 km

Ports: Kangerluarsoruseq (Faeringehavn), Paamiut (Frederikshaab), Nuuk (Godthaab), Sisimiut (Holsteinsborg), Julianehaab, Maarmorilik, North Star Bay, and at least 10 minor ports

Merchant marine: 1 refrigerated cargo (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,021 GRT/1,778 DWT; note—operates under the registry of Denmark

Civil air: 2 major transport aircraft

Airports: 11 total, 8 usable; 5 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 2 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: adequate domestic and international service provided by cables and radio relay; 17,900 telephones; stations—5 AM, 7 (35 relays) FM, 4 (9 relays) TV; 2 coaxial submarine cables; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Note: defense is responsibility of Denmark