Greenland | Quick Facts

Greenland is a self-governed Danish territory lying between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. It is the sixth largest landmass on Earth, and by the most common convention it is the largest one to be counted as an island rather than a continent.


Greenland was home to a number of Paleo-Eskimo cultures in prehistory, the latest of which disappeared around the year 200 AD. Hereafter, the island seems to have been uninhabited for some eight centuries. Icelandic settlers arrived in around 982 AD. In 1261, Greenland became part of the Kingdom of Norway and remained so until 1814. Greenland became an integral part of the Kingdom of Denmark in 1953. It was granted home rule by the Folketing (Danish parliament) in 1978.


Greenland’s Head of State is the Danish Monarch, currently Margrethe II. The Queen’s government in Denmark appoints a Rigsombudsmand (High commissioner) representing the Danish government and monarchy. Greenland has an elected parliament of thirty-one members. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is usually the leader of the majority party in Parliament.

Economy of Greenland

About half the government revenues come from grants from the Danish Government. Greenland today is critically dependent on fishing and fish exports; the shrimp fishing industry is by far the largest income earner. 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.

People of Greenland

Greenland has a population of 56,361, of whom 87% are Greenlandic, a mixture of Inuit and European races. Nearly all Greenlanders live along the fjords in the south-west of the main island, which has a milder climate. The official languages of Greenland are Greenlandic and Danish. English is widely spoken as a third language.

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Quick facts: Capital – Nuuk; Official languages – Greenlandic, Danish; Government – Parliamentary democracy; Area – Total 2,166,086 sq km; Population – 57,100

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