Greenland - Economic Indicators

Economic Overview

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...

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GDP Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Real Gross Domestic Product 2016 15,880,400,000 14,750,100,000 NCU Annual
Nominal Gross Domestic Product 2016 18,215,300,000 16,955,700,000 NCU Annual
Demographics Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Death Rate 2016 8.7 # per Ths. pop. Annual
Population 2016 56,186 56,114 # Annual
Birth Rate 2015 15.2 14.3 # per Ths. pop. Annual

Factbook

Background

Background:
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 favor 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.

Geography

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
Area:
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)
country comparison to the world: 13
Area - comparative:
slightly more than three times the size of Texas
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
44,087 km
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
Climate:
arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters
Terrain:
flat to gradually sloping icecap covers all but a narrow, mountainous, barren, rocky coast
Elevation:
mean elevation: 1,792 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunnbjorn Fjeld 3,694 m
Natural resources:
coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, diamonds, gold, platinum, niobium, tantalite, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas
Land use:
agricultural land: 0.6%
arable land 0%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0.6%
forest: 0%
other: 99.4% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA
Population - distribution:
settlement concentrated on the southwest shoreline, with limited settlements scattered along the remaining coast; interior is uninhabited
Natural hazards:
continuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island
Environment - current issues:
protection of the arctic environment; preservation of the Inuit traditional way of life, including whaling and seal hunting
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 sheet after that of Antarctica

People & Society

Population:
57,713 (July 2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
Nationality:
noun: Greenlander(s)
adjective: Greenlandic
Ethnic groups:
Inuit 88%, Danish and other 12% (2010 est.)
Languages:
Greenlandic (East Inuit) (official), Danish (official), English
Religions:
Evangelical Lutheran, traditional Inuit spiritual beliefs
Age structure:
0-14 years: 21.11% (male 6,195/female 5,986)
15-24 years: 15.48% (male 4,506/female 4,429)
25-54 years: 41.21% (male 12,473/female 11,309)
55-64 years: 12.96% (male 4,112/female 3,370)
65 years and over: 9.24% (male 2,862/female 2,471) (2017 est.)
population pyramid:
Median age:
total: 33.9 years
male: 35 years
female: 32.7 years (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
Population growth rate:
-0.03% (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200
Birth rate:
14.4 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
Death rate:
8.7 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
Net migration rate:
-6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 197
Population distribution:
settlement concentrated on the southwest shoreline, with limited settlements scattered along the remaining coast; interior is uninhabited
Urbanization:
urban population: 87.2% of total population (2017)
rate of urbanization: 0.27% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major urban areas - population:
NUUK (capital) 17,000 (2014)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.26 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.15 male(s)/female
total population: 1.1 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 8.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.6 years
male: 69.9 years
female: 75.5 years (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
Total fertility rate:
1.99 children born/woman (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
Physicians density:
1.73 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
Hospital bed density:
8.2 beds/1,000 population (2015)
Drinking water source:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
NA
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2015 est.)

Government

Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Greenland
local long form: none
local short form: Kalaallit Nunaat
note: named by Norwegian adventurer Erik THORVALDSSON (Erik the Red) in A.D. 985 in order to entice settlers to the island
Dependency status:
part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979
Government type:
parliamentary democracy (Parliament of Greenland or Inatsisartut)
Capital:
name: Nuuk (Godthaab)
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 has four time zones
Administrative divisions:
4 municipalities (kommuner, singular kommune); Kujalleq, Qaasuitsup, Qeqqata, Sermersooq
note: the North and East Greenland National Park (Avannaarsuani Tunumilu Nuna Allanngutsaaliugaq) and the Thule Air Base in Pituffik (in northwest Greenland) are two unincorporated areas; the national park's 972,000 sq km - about 46% of the island - makes it the largest national park in the world and also the most northerly
Independence:
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)
National holiday:
National Day, June 21; note - marks the summer solstice and the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere
Constitution:
previous 1953 (Greenland established as a constituency in the Danish constitution), 1979 (Greenland Home Rule Act); latest 21 June 2009 (Greenland Self-Government Act) (2016)
Legal system:
the laws of Denmark apply where applicable and Greenlandic law applies to other areas
Citizenship:
see Denmark
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Mikaela ENGELL (since April 2011)
head of government: Premier Kim KIELSEN (since 30 September 2014)
cabinet: Self-rule Government (Naalakkersuisut) elected by the Parliament (Inatsisartut) on the basis of the strength of parties
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; premier indirectly elected by Parliament for a 4-year term
election results: Kim KIELSEN elected premier; Parliament vote - Kim KIELSEN (S) 27.2%, Sara OLSVIG (IA) 25.5%, Randi Vestergaard EVALDSEN (D) 19.5%, other 27.8%
Legislative branch:
description: unicameral Parliament or Inatsisartut (31 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 24 April 2018 (next to be held by 2022)
election results: percent of vote by party - S 27.2, IA 25.5%, D 19.5%, PN 13.4%, A 5.9%, SA 4.1%, NQ 3.4% other 1.7%; seats by party - S 9, IA 8, D 6, PN 4, A 2, SA 1, NQ 1
note: 2 representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament on 18 June 2015 (next to be held by June 2019); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - S 1, IA 1 (2013)
Judicial branch:
highest court(s): High Court of Greenland (consists of the presiding professional judge and 2 lay assessors); note - appeals beyond the High Court of Greenland can be heard by the Supreme Court (in Copenhagen)
judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the monarch upon the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Council, a 6-member independent body of judges and lawyers; judges appointed for life with retirement at age 70
subordinate courts: Court of Greenland; 18 district or magistrates' courts
Political parties and leaders:
Collabotation Party or SA (Samarbejdspartiet) [Tillie MARTINUSSEN]
Democrats Party or D (Demokraatit) [Randi VESTERGAARD EVALDSEN]
Forward Party or S (Siumut) [Kim KIELSEN]
Inuit Community or IA (Inuit Ataqatigiit) [Sara OLSVIG]
Nunatta Qitornai or NQ {Vittus QUJAUKITSOQ]
Partii Naleraq or PN [Hans ENOKSEN]
Solidarity Party or A (Atassut) [Siverth Karl HEILMANN]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
conservationists; environmentalists; independence activists
International organization participation:
Arctic Council, ICC, NC, NIB, UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark): note - Greenland has an office in the Danish Embassy to the US; it also has offices in the Danish consulates of Chicago and New York
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; the design represents the sun reflecting off a field of ice; the colors are the same as those of the Danish flag and symbolize Greenland's links to the Kingdom of Denmark
National symbol(s):
polar bear; national colors: red, white
National anthem:
name: "Nunarput utoqqarsuanngoravit" ("Our Country, Who's Become So Old" also translated as "You Our Ancient Land")
lyrics/music: Henrik LUND/Jonathan PETERSEN
note: adopted 1916; the government also recognizes "Nuna asiilasooq" as a secondary anthem

Economy

Economy - overview:
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 labor, 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.173 billion (2015 est.)
$2.137 billion (2014 est.)
$2.154 billion (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2015 US dollars
country comparison to the world: 194
GDP (official exchange rate):
$2.221 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.7% (2015 est.)
-0.8% (2014 est.)
-3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$37,600 (2015 est.)
$37,000 (2014 est.)
$38,500 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
GDP - composition, by end use:
household consumption: 24.8%
government consumption: 28%
investment in fixed capital: 14.3%
investment in inventories: -13.9%
exports of goods and services: 18.2%
imports of goods and services: 28.6% (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 15.9%
industry: 10.1%
services: 73.9% (2015 est.)
Agriculture - products:
sheep, cow, reindeer, fish
Industries:
fish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut); gold, zinc, anorthosite and ruby mining; handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards
Industrial production growth rate:
NA%
Labor force:
26,840 (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 15.9%
industry: 10.1%
services: 73.9% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate:
9.1% (2015 est.)
10.3% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
Population below poverty line:
16.2% (2015 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
33.9 (2015 est.)
34.3 (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
Budget:
revenues: $1.578 billion
expenditures: $1.876 billion (2014 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:
71% of GDP (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-13.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214
Public debt:
13% of GDP (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 196
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.3% (January 2017 est.)
1.2% (January 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 17
Central bank discount rate:
NA%
Exports:
$407.1 million (2015 est.)
$599.7 million (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178
Exports - commodities:
fish and fish products 91% (2015 est.)
Exports - partners:
Denmark 81.2%, Portugal 8.3% (2016)
Imports:
$783.5 million (2015 est.)
$866.1 million (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Denmark 72.2%, Sweden 9.8% (2016)
Debt - external:
$36.4 million (2010 est.)
$58 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 197
Exchange rates:
Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -
6.59 (2016 est.)
6.73 (2016 est.)
6.73 (2015)
6.72 (2014 est.)
5.61 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access:
electrification - total population: 100% (2016)
Electricity - production:
625 million kWh (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162
Electricity - consumption:
581.3 million kWh (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
Electricity - installed generating capacity:
187,000 kW (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
Electricity - from fossil fuels:
51.3% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
Electricity - from nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:
48.7% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
Electricity - from other renewable sources:
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 185
Crude oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
Crude oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
Crude oil - imports:
0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
Crude oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
Refined petroleum products - production:
0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
Refined petroleum products - consumption:
6,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 173
Refined petroleum products - exports:
0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
Refined petroleum products - imports:
4,633 bbl/day (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:
520,400 Mt (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines:
total subscriptions: 16,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 28 (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
Telephones - mobile cellular:
total: 61,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 106 (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate domestic and international service provided by satellite, cables, and microwave radio relay; totally digital since 1995
domestic: microwave radio relay and satellite; the fundamental telecommunications infrastructure consists of a digital radio link from Nanortalik in south Greenland to Uummannaq in north Greenland; satellites cover north and east Greenland for domestic and foreign telecommunications; a marine cable connects south and west Greenland to the rest of the world, extending from Nuuk and Qaqortoq to Canada and Iceland
international: country code - 299; satellite earth stations - 15 (12 Intelsat, 1 Eutelsat, 2 Americom GE-2 (all Atlantic Ocean)) (2015)
Broadcast media:
the Greenland Broadcasting Company provides public radio and TV services throughout the island with a broadcast station and a series of repeaters; a few private local TV and radio stations; Danish public radio rebroadcasts are available (2015)
Internet country code:
.gl
Internet users:
total: 39,544
percent of population: 68.5% (July 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200

Transportation

National air transport system:
number of registered air carriers: 1 (registered in Denmark)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 8 (registered in Denmark) (2015)
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix:
OY-H (2016)
Airports:
15 (2013)
country comparison to the world: 147
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 6 (2017)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2013)
Roadways:
note: although there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-urban transport is either by sea or by air (2015)
Merchant marine:
total: 8
by type: general cargo 1, other 7 (2017)
country comparison to the world: 156
Ports and terminals:
major seaport(s): Sisimiut

Military & Security

Military branches:
no regular military forces or conscription; the Government of Denmark has responsibility for defense; as such the Danish military’s Joint Arctic Command in Nuuk is responsible for territorial defense of Greenland (2016)
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Denmark

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:
managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland; Denmark (Greenland) and Norway have made submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) and Russia is collecting additional data to augment its 2001 CLCS submission

Economic Indicators for Greenland including actual values, historical data, and latest data updates for the Greenland economy.