Factsheet DenmarkGreenland by dffhrtcv3


									Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Factsheet Denmark

For thousands of years, life in Greenland has been a unique interaction of the amazing and changeable nature – as here at Uummannaq in North Greenland
– and a population that has understood how to adapt to its changes. Photo: Kristian Fridriksson, Greenland Tourism.

JUNE 2008

The development of Home Rule in Green-             Geography                                               The east coast is dominated by the
land in many ways serves as a model for            Greenland is part of the North American             East Greenland polar current, covering it
other indigenous population groups                 continent. It is the world’s largest island,        with a sheet of ice over a metre thick dur-
around the world, especially the Arctic            with a total area of around 2.2 million             ing the six winter months. During the
societies. Greenland has developed a mod-          square kilometres, but only approx.                 summer, large ice masses slowly drift from
ern, well-functioning welfare society,             410,000 square kilometres are not covered           the polar basin down along the coast and
where education, pension, health service           by ice. The northernmost extremity, Cape            south of Cape Farewell. Along the south-
and unemployment benefit are taken for             Morris Jesup, is the northernmost land              ern part of the west coast, a relatively
granted, while the Home Rule at the same           area in the world, just 740 kilometres              warm current keeps the coast clear of sea
time makes Greenland’s population self-            from the North Pole. Cape Farewell,                 ice all year round. Navigation is only
governing in virtually all areas.                  Greenland’s southernmost point, is situat-          impeded at the southernmost point dur-
    On the other hand, the country has             ed approx. 2,670 kilometres to the south,           ing the spring and summer months by the
the same problems as other societies based         at the latitude of the Nordic capitals of           ice drifting down from the polar basin.
on a few resources. The economy is close-          Oslo and Helsinki. Measured west-east,              From Disko Bay northwards, the sea is
ly tied to fluctuations in the resource basis      Greenland is 1,050 kilometres wide at its           covered by ice during the six winter
and the price developments on the global           broadest point.                                     months, but fully or partly navigable dur-
market. It also still has close links with             Such a great expanse results in wide cli-       ing the six summer months. The further
Denmark, partly in the form of annual              matic variations in Greenland. In addi-             north you get, the shorter the navigable
subsidies of over DKK 3.2 billion and              tion, the ice cap has a distinctive influence       period.
partly through the free provision of educa-        everywhere. With the exception of a few
tion, hospital and many other services to          sheltered valleys in South Greenland, the           History
Greenlandic citizens. Together, these fac-         climate is arctic, with an average tempera-         There have been cultures in Greenland for
tors set certain limits to both the econom-        ture during the warmest month of the                more than four thousand years. The first
ic and the political scope.                        year of less than 10°C.                             people migrated across the Davis Strait
Settlement in Greenland: Ever since the first                                                 coast. The current population originates from
settlers migrated across the Bering Strait via                                                the last of these, around 1000 AD. Cultures have
Alaska and Canada to the Thule area around                                                    left different traces in the landscape and one of
2500 BC, life in Greenland has been shaped by                                                 the most spectacular finds are the 15th century
the interaction of human ability and nature’s                                                 mummies of six women and two children from
mutability. The next settlements were along the                                               Qilakitsoq. The photo shows one of the very
west coast and the culture survived almost a                                                  well-preserved mummified children from the
thousand years before disappearing, probably                                                  cave where they were found. Photo: Greenland
due to climate changes. Later, another couple of                                              Tourism.
migrations occurred along the east and west

                                                                                              from the American continent around                  well as a change of the country’s colony
                                                                                              2200 BC. However, settlement has not                status. The basis of the welfare state was
                                                                                              been continuous, for the communities                laid during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
                                                                                              have always been dependent on hunting.
                                                                                              With climate changes, over-exploitation             Political life
                                                                                              and natural fluctuations in the resource            Already at an early stage, the first steps
    Kalaallit Nunaat – Greenland                                                              basis, the settlers had to follow the animals       were taken towards increased independ-
    Constitution: Home Rule in a federation                                                   and at times succumbed from starvation.             ence of the Greenlandic society. With the
    with Denmark. Popularly elected parliament                                                    The first links with Europe were estab-         establishment of the directorates in 1862,
    – Landstinget. This has taken over legisla-                                               lished with the Norse settlements from              the Greenlanders were involved in the
    tive authority in virtually all areas from the                                            982 AD and lasted until the mid 15th                decision-making processes for the first
    Danish Folketing, which includes two mem-                                                 century, when the settlers moved away,              time and the 1908 Statute introduced
    bers elected in Greenland.
                                                                                              partly as a result of the colder climate.           both municipal councils and a regional
    Area: 2,170,000 square kilometres, of which                                               The flourishing European whaling in the             government with democratically elected
    410,449 square kilometres are ice free.                                                   16th century restored regular visits to             representatives. In 1953, Greenland
    Population: 56,462 inhabitants (2008).                                                    Greenland, but a permanent link was not             became a county on an equal footing with
    Capital: Nuuk (Godthåb) with 16,421 inhabi-                                               established until 1721, when Hans Egede             the other Danish counties. However, the
    tants (2008).                                                                             settled on Håbets Ø (Hope Island) near              early Danicisation policy created opposition
                                                                                              the current capital, Nuuk. This formed              in Greenland and contributed to the intro-
    Currency: Danish krone (DKK).
                                                                                              the basis of Danish sovereignty for the             duction of Home Rule in 1979.
                                                                                              next 258 years, when the establishment of,              Home Rule is a federation with Den-
                                                                                              KGH – Kongelige Grønlandske Handel                  mark based of extensive self-government.
                                                                                              (Royal Greenland Trade Company) with                The legislation is formally approved by
      CANADA                                                                                  its trade monopoly was crucial to the               the Danish parliament, Folketinget, where
                                                                                              social development.                                 two members are elected in Greenland.
                                                                                                  Until the Second World War, Green-              The Folketing and the Danish administra-
                                                                                              land was a closed country, based primarily          tion issue acts and directives for the few
                                                                                              on subsistence production and the sale of           areas not transferred to the Home Rule,
               naa                                    nla                                     catch to the trade monopoly. In 1906,               but almost all legislation originates in the
                  q                 ee
       Pitu                       Gr
     (Th ffik               No
                                                   GREENLAND                                  sheep farming was introduced in South               Greenlandic parliament, Landstinget. The
         u                                                                                    Greenland and commercial fishing started            members of the Landsting are elected at
    Air le
            e)                                                                                in 1908. During the Second World War,               least every four years by a general election
                              West Greenland

                                                 East Greenland

                                                                                              the German occupation of Denmark                    among all Danish citizens resident in
                                                                                              meant that all contact with Greenland was           Greenland and aged over 18. The Lands-
                                                                                              suspended. Instead, the administration in           ting nominates the president of the execu-
                                                                                              Greenland and the Danish legation in                tive, Landsstyret, and approves the nomi-
                                                                                              Washington contacted the US govern-                 nation of its members, who act as the
                     Ilulis                                                                   ment, who agreed to defend Greenland                country’s government. Each Landsstyre
                  Aasia sat                                                         3700
                        at                                                                    against possible occupation. Among other            member serves as minister for particular
                                                                                              things, this resulted in the establishment          areas of responsibility.
                              u                ssuaq
                                                                                              of military bases at Narsarsuaq, Kanger-                Greenland has initiated a municipal
       tsoq                                                                                   lussuaq and Grønnedal in 1941 and at                reform and from 1 January 2009, the
        Nuuk                                                                                  Thule in 1951-1952.                                 country will be divided into four large
                                                                                                  However, the standard of living was             municipalities, each led by a municipal
                                                                                              very low both before and after the war              council headed by a mayor. The munici-
                                                                               c   Oce
                                                                                              and a popular movement arose in Den-                palities are responsible for the welfare of
                        q                                                                     mark in favour of modernisation of the              the local communities, including child-
                                                                                              Greenlandic society. There were calls for           care, elementary school, culture and
                                                                          0         400 km
                                                                                              an opening of the economy and invest-               leisure as well as various social services.
                                                                                              ment in both housing and production as                  Greenland has a very active political

                                              Norsemen: The Norsemen lived in Greenland for     episcopal seat. There are many theories about
                                              around 500 years. They were the descendants of    the Norsemen’s disappearance from Greenland
                                              Norwegian and Icelandic Vikings, who came to      during the 16th century. One of the reasons may
                                              Greenland led by Erik the Red in 985, searching   be climate changes. The Norsemen came to
                                              for new lands to farm. They found what they       Greenland during a warm period and disap-
                                              were looking for, partly in Østerbygden, now      peared during an extremely cold period,
                                              Julianehåb Bay, partly in Vesterbygden, now       described as a minor ice age. Photo: Manfred
                                              Godthåb Fjord. The photo shows ruins of the       Horender.
                                              Gardar settlement in Østerbygden, now Igaliko,
                                              which in the Norsemen’s time functioned as

         Immigration and emigration
                                                                                                  Ice cap and glaciers
                                                                                                  With an area of approx. 1,800,000 square
4,000                                                                                             kilometres and a thickness of almost 3.5
                                                                                                  kilometres, Greenland’s ice cap is the se-
3,000                                                                                             cond-largest in the world, only exceeded by
                                                                                                  the ice cap on the Antarctic continent. From
2,000                                                                                             the ice cap, numerous glaciers release large
                                                                                                  quantities of ice and melt water into the
                                                                                                  surrounding waters. The largest glacier –
    0                                                                                             also the largest in the Northern hemisphere
                                                                                                  – is the Ilulissat glacier. It releases 86 mil-
-1,000                                                                                            lion tons of ice every 24 hours, which repre-
                                                                                                  sents 8-10 per cent of all the ice which flows
-2,000                                                                                            away from the ice cap, and therefore pro-
         1981               1986     1991            1996             2001              2006
                                                                                                  duces as much fresh water per day as New
                Immigration                                                                       York City uses in a whole year. In 2004,
                Emigration                                                                        Ilulissat ice fjord was included in UNESCO’s
                Net immigration
                                                                                                  World Heritage List of the most outstanding
life, dominated by four parties: Siumut,      of the Federation, with future income               natural and cultural phenomena in the
                                                                                                  world. The warmer climate has accelerated
with a policy seeking extensive independ-     accruing to Greenland after the subsidies
                                                                                                  the melting and the production of icebergs,
ence within the framework of the Federa-      from Denmark have been covered. The
                                                                                                  causing the ice front to recede further and
tion, the Democrats, who focus more on        legislative and decision-making authority           further back into the ice fjord.
securing the economic basis for the further   only remains in Denmark in relation to
development of the country, Inuit Ataqati-    foreign policy, police, judicial system and
giit, with a policy aimed at independence     the surveillance of Greenland’s waters.
for Greenland, and Atassut, which advo-       The Danish state is represented by the
cates close collaboration with Denmark.       High Commission, which is headed by               Although dog sleigh and kayak are no longer
                                                                                                essential to survival in Greenland, both are valu-
                                              the High Commissioner.
                                                                                                ed by the Greenlandic population and the tradi-
Links with the outside world                     Greenland is a member of the Nordic            tions are therefore maintained. Photos: Kristian
Greenland administers the exploitation of     Council and in this way maintains close           Fridriksson, Greenland Tourism (left) and Isak
mineral and energy resources on behalf        links with the other Nordic countries.            Kleist (right).

Colonisation: In 1721, the Danish King Frederik    became a Danish colony and over the next cen-
IV sent the priest Hans Egede to Greenland to      tury several trading stations were established on
find the Norsemen. He discovered many              Greenland’s west coast. However, East Green-
remains, but no surviving Norsemen. Instead, he    land was difficult to access due to the ice cap
was met by the Inuit, who had come from the        and the pack ice in the sea, so it was not
north and who with whale and seal hunting as       colonised until 1892, when Gustav Holm led an
their main source of food were adapted to the      expedition to the area around Ammassalik. The
colder climate. Hans Egede founded Godthåb         photo shows the statue of Hans Egede, looking
(Nuuk) and initiated both mission and trade on     out over today’s Nuuk. Photo: Lars Reimers.
behalf of the Danish King. Greenland thus

Greenland’s economy, settlement struc-             Population
ture, education system and welfare system                                                                Key population figures 2007
                                                   Some 56,700 people live in Greenland.
                                                                                                         Average life expectancy for people born in
have much in common with the general               About 50,000 of them were born on the
Scandinavian welfare model, but there are          island. With a rate of natural increase of            Men: 64.4 years.
also many links across the Davis Strait to         approx. 12 per thousand, the Greenlandic              Women: 70.4 years.
the North American continent. Particularly         population is growing steadily, but the
                                                                                                         Fertility rate for women born in Greenland:
the collaboration within the ICC – Inuit           total population has remained stable since
                                                                                                         In towns: 2.2 children.
Circumpolar Council – has contributed              the 1980s. This is partly due to the partial          In settlements: 3.0 children.
positively to the development of the polar         repatriation of Danes in recent decades.
                                                                                                         Infant mortality:
collaboration, which among other things            When the Danish workforce climaxed,
                                                                                                         Boys: 15.2.
has manifested itself in the establishment         more than 10,000 people born in
                                                                                                         Girls: 6.9.
of the Arctic Council in 1996.                     Denmark worked in Greenland, but the
                                                                                                         The population pyramid shows that relatively
                                                                                                         more children are still born in Greenland
           Population development in Greenland 1900-2007                                                 than in the Nordic countries and Europe
60,000                                                                                                   generally. Relatively larger emigration by
                                                                                                         women than men results in a significant
50,000                                                                                                   imbalance and this is particularly prevalent
                                                                                                         in the settlements, where there is often an
40,000                                                                                                   actual shortage of women.


20,000                                                                                                 number has now declined to approx.
                                                                                                       7,000. On the other hand, there has been
10,000                                                                                                 net emigration of the Greenlandic popula-
                                                                                                       tion corresponding to the surplus of
       0                                                                                               births. As a result, the total population
           1901      1916      1931        1946          1961     1976        1991        2006
                                                                                                       has remained very stable at the same level
              Town                                                                                     for the last decade.
              Settlement                                                                                  The central parts of West Greenland
                                                                                                       are the most densely populated, largely
           Wage earners’ employment in 2005, per cent on sectors                                       because this area is ice free so that its
                                                                                                       waters are navigable all year round and
                   4.9 3.0                                                                             the development opportunities for fishing
                                                                                                       are best here for the same reason. Most of
            7.3                                                  Public administration and services
                                                                                                       the population – around 47,000 – live in
                                                  44.9           Trade and repair
                                                                                                       the towns. Nuuk is the largest, with
                                                                 Other industries
                                                                                                       a population of over 16,000. Sisimiut and
                                                                 Transport sector
8.7                                                                                                    Ilulissat have approx. 5,000 inhabitants
                                                                 Building and construction
                                                                                                       and several towns such as Qaqortoq,
                                                                                                       Maniitsoq and Aasiaat have over 3,000.
                                                                                                       Altogether, some 60 per cent of the total
                                                                                                       population live in these six largest towns.
                                                                                                       The rest of the population live in more
                                                                                                       than 110 settlements, trading posts and
                                                                                                       sheep stations. The total number of settle-
                                                                                                       ment residents remained largely constant
                                                                                                       from the turn of the last century until the
                                                                                                       end of the 1980s, while the population
                      16.6                                                                             growth since the 1950s has mainly been
                                                The Greenlanders’ language: Greenlandic (in         and comprehensively revised in 1973. Written
                                                Greenlandic: kalaallisut = “The Greenlanders’       Greenlandic uses the Latin alphabet. The photo
                                                language”) is part of the Inuit-Aleut family of     shows the first primer in Greenlandic. The letter
                                                languages, spoken throughout the Arctic area.       C is not included as Greenlandic does not
                                                There are three main dialects in Greenland:         include any pronunciations corresponding to
                                                North, East and West Greenlandic. The West          this letter. However, C is now included in the
                                                Greenlandic dialect is used for teaching and        alphabet due to the increasing use of words of
                                                administration, and also forms the basis of writ-   foreign origin. Photo: Arctic Institute.
                                                ten Greenlandic. The written language was
                                                developed by Samuel Kleinschmidt in the 1850s

in the towns. In the last few decades, the      Resources                                           an effect of 30 megawatt. The power is
population has been further concentrated,       Greenland has considerable raw material             led to Nuuk on pylons crossing two
partly because the population growth con-       deposits, but until now commercial                  fjords, including the Ameralikfjord with
tinues to be in the towns, especially           exploitation has been limited by the rough          the world’s longest free span of 5,376
Nuuk, partly because the large settlements      natural conditions and difficult access.            meters. A 1.2 megawatt plant was inau-
have grown, while several of the very           Formerly, cryolite was mined in Ivittuut            gurated at Tasiilaq in East Greenland in
small ones have been abandoned. In addi-        (1865-1987), coal at Qullissat (1924-               2005 and a 7.2 megawatt plant at
tion, the settlements have experienced a        1970), marble, zinc, lead and silver at             Qorlortorsuaq near Qaqortoq in South
population drain, especially by the women,      Maarmorilik (1965-1990) and zinc at                 Greenland was inaugurated in 2007.
who move to the towns, as they offer more       Mestersvig (1956-1963). There are plans             There are other good opportunities to
employment opportunities within the serv-       to reopen the mine at Maarmorilik in                harness water power and, among other
ice sector and jobs requiring medium-long       2008 and there is currently mining of               things, a 15 megawatt plant is being
or long further education.                      gold (Nalunaq in Nanortalik), olivine               planned by Lake Tasersuaq near Sisimiut
    Daily life is very different in towns and   (Fiskefjord in Maniitsoq) and rubies                for launch in 2010 along with several
settle-ments. The settlement shop offers        (Fiskenæsset). However, the international           new plants intended mainly for supplying
relatively few shopping opportunities           interest in the search for raw materials and        energy for large-scale raw material pro-
beyond basic necessities. There are also        energy is increasing and a number of                cessing. The first project is the supply of
very few opportunities for paid employ-         minerals may prove of economic interest             energy to a possible aluminium produc-
ment in the settlements. By contrast, many      in the future, including offshore oil fields        tion plant currently planned at Maniit-
of the large towns offer a rich choice, both    by Nuuk on the west coast of Greenland,             soq.
in the shops and in terms of schools and        in Jameson Land in East Greenland and
education opportunities, which in turn          in the inaccessible waters along North
give access to a wider range of jobs. For       West and North East Greenland. In addi-             Mining used to play a secondary role in the
many families, especially in the settle-        tion, there has been great interest in the          Greenlandic community, but in future the many
ments, but also in the towns, hunting and       possible deposits of gold, niobium, tanta-          raw materials and energy resources will increa-
fishing for personal consumption still play     lite, uranium, iron, molybdate and dia-             singly contribute to Greenland’s economy.
an important part, both as a supplement                                                             Left: The Black Angel lead and zinc mine near
                                                                                                    Uummannaq. Right: A selection of facet-cut ru-
to the family finances and in terms of              Greenland’s first major hydroelectric           bies and pink sapphires from Fiskenæsset.
maintaining a relationship with the sur-        plant is located in Buksefjorden south of           Photos: B. Thomassen (left) and P. Warna-Moors,
rounding nature.                                Nuuk. It was completed in 1993 and has              The Geological Survey of Denmark (right).

International recognition: In 1921, Denmark          pied the area 1932-33. The Danish government
announced that all of Greenland was under Da-        brought the case before the International Court
nish sovereignty. To mark the Danish rule in North   of Justice in The Hague, which decided that the
Greenland as well, the town of Ittoqqortoormiit      area was Danish. The decision was among other
(Scoresbysund) was established in 1925. Howe-        things influenced by the polar explorer Knud Ras-
ver, Norway regarded it as an old Norse posses-      mussen’s many sleigh expeditions. To maintain
sion and pursued extensive seal and whale            Danish sovereignty, the Sirius Patrol was estab-
hunting in East Greenland. The Norwegian gov-        lished to carry out tours of inspection in the unin-
ernment therefore believed Denmark was               habited parts of North and East Greenland.
infringing Norwegian rights and officially occu-     Photo: Svend Erik Nielsen.

                                                     polar bears are killed annually and they
    Towns and settlements – two different            are reserved for hunters who are largely
    ways of life
                                                     dependent on this catch.
    Two very different ways of life are lived side
    by side in Greenland – on the one hand life
                                                         In addition, the rich bird life is exploit-
    in the 18 towns and on the other, life in        ed and land mammals are also hunted, for
    some 60 settlements. The population of the       instance the reindeer living in West
    settlements ranges from very few to approx.      Greenland from Paamiut northwards and
    500. Employment is focused on hunting and        the musk oxen living in North East
    fishing and service functions are limited to     Greenland and around Kangerlussuaq,
    a single shop and a school, where the child-     where they were introduced in 1960.
    ren can attend the elementary forms. The         Hunting continues to play a role for the
    towns are the administrative centres of the      population in North and East Greenland,
    18 municipalities, with a population ranging
                                                     although it is no longer the dominant
    from 500 to 16,000. Here, too, hunting and
                                                     occupation in a financial sense. On the
    fishing play a significant part, but there is
    also a broader employment spectrum and
                                                     other hand, hunting has become increas-
    above all a wider selection of service           ingly important as a subsidiary occupation
    functions. The towns have more shops and         and leisure activity in both towns and
    the schools offer teaching at every level.       settlements. In addition, hunting is very
    There are also boarding houses for older         important for the self-perception of a
    schoolchildren from the settlements, where       hunting society.
    they stay during the week, while returning
    to the settlements at weekends. With the         Sheep farming                                          Marine mammals – and especially seals – play
    receding role of hunting and fishing, it is                                                             an important part in Greenlandic daily life, both
                                                     Although it is difficult to imagine Green-             as a source of income through the sale of skins
    increasingly difficult for the settlements to
                                                     land as an agrarian country, sheep farming             and as a significant food resource. Photo: Lars
    survive, partly because many of the young
                                                     has developed into a viable industry. The              Reimers, Greenland Tourism.
    people, especially the women, seek
    employment and a future in the towns. It is
                                                     more fertile areas of South Greenland are
    mainly the capital Nuuk which attracts an        suitable for sheep farming and altogether              snow and ice in the summer months,
    ever-increasing proportion of the popula-        there are approx. 50 farms, with some 250              together with long, light summers,
    tion.                                            people directly financially dependent on               encourage abundant phytoplankton,
                                                     the industry. An important factor has                  which is the fundamental feed basis of
                                                     been the deliberate work to avoid import-              more than 200 species of fish, crustaceans
Hunting                                              ing feed by cultivating fairly large field             and mussels in the sea. The exploitation
In the traditional hunter society, the               areas, where the necessary winter feed is              of marine resources has therefore always
marine mammals were essential for sur-               harvested during the summer. As there is               formed the basis of the settlements. After
vival, especially the five types of seal pre-        no private right of ownership for land in              the introduction of more efficient catch
sent in the seas around Greenland. Every             Greenland, the Landsstyre has made the                 methods, but also due to the declining
year, approx. 150,000 seals are killed,              sheep farmers jointly responsible for                  cod population, employment in the fish-
along with some walruses and a limited               agreeing the terms of the right to use the             ing industry has declined. The fishing
number of whales. The meat of the ani-               land. Approx. 20,000 lambs are slaugh-                 fleet consists of around 800 cutters and
mals is used locally, where it is sold and           tered annually at the abattoir in Narsaq               vessels of less than 10 gross register tons
traded for considerable sums, but the                and in addition large numbers are slaugh-              and some 70 sea-going vessels of more
only commercial exploitation of the seals            tered on the farms. The sheep farming                  than 81 gross register tons. Most of the
is currently through the sale of sealskins           products are virtually only sold in Green-             vessels in the settlements are small, while
to the tannery Great Greenland in                    land, even though attempts have been                   the trawlers are found in towns with more
Qaqortoq (Julianehåb). Due to the diffi-             made to export part of the production.                 developed harbour facilities. In addition
culties of selling the seal skins on the glob-                                                              to these vessels, there are between three
al market, the Home Rule generously sub-             Fishing                                                and five thousand dinghies, some of which
sidises the purchasing. The global sealskin          The waters around Greenland are among                  are used for industrial fishing, while others
market has, however, improved consider-              the most productive in the world, as large             are primarily used for leisure fishing.
ably in recent decades. Fewer than 200               amounts of nutrient salts from melting                     By far the most important commer-
                                             Danish paternalism: The Danish colonial policy        and culture from outside influences. The attitude
                                             in Greenland in the 20th century is best described    is clearly illustrated by the picture, showing Thor-
                                             as “paternalism”. The colonial power did not trust    vald Stauning, Danish Social Democratic Prime
                                             the Greenlanders to assume responsibility for the     Minister 1929-42, seated as the father of the
                                             development themselves and introduced an              country surrounded by the people. On the left is
                                             administrative system to handle all aspects of life   Iceland (as a fisherman) and the Faroes (in tradi-
                                             in Greenland. Among other things, this meant that     tional Faroese clothes), while Greenland stands
                                             Greenland was virtually closed to access until        by Stauning’s knee as a little child dressed in
                                             World War II, partly justified by the colonial        Greenlandic clothes. Painting: W. Glud, 1939.
                                             power’s desire to protect the Greenlandic language    Arbejderbevægelsens Bibliotek og Arkiv.

cially exploited species is the cold-water   mainly from Disko Bay and the North                   ually transferable quotas (ITQ). For fish-
prawn. The annual catch of approx.           West Greenland municipalities, is con-                ing close to the coast, the rights are not
135,000 tons contributes more than DKK       tributing more than DKK 500 million                   linked to specific quantities of fish, but
1.2 billion to Greenland’s economy.          (2006 figures). In addition, the fishing of           allocated to the fishermen in the form of a
Formerly, cod played a key role in the       Norway haddock, catfish, Atlantic hal-                specific catch capacity, which is transfer-
economy, but cod fishing then declined       ibut, salmon and char is of some local                able between the fishermen.
significantly. However, it now appears to    economic importance.                                      By agreement with the Greenland
be recovering due to climate changes.            In Greenland, the right to exploit the            Home Rule, foreign nations carry out con-
While cod lost its economic importance,      main fish resources is allocated through              siderable fishing. The main agreement is
Green-land halibut became very impor-        two quota systems. For deep-sea fishing,              with the EU and comprises approx. 80,000
tant and the annual catch of 10,000 tons,    the exploitation is distributed on individ-           tons, for which the EU compensates with
                                                                                                   an annual contribution of DKK 133 mil-
                                                                                                   lion to Greenland’s treasury. In addition,
                                                                                                   Greenland has agreements with the Faroe
                                                                                                   Islands, Norway, Russia and Iceland.

                                                                                                   Fishing industry
                                                                                                   Approx. half the Greenlandic catches are
                                                                                                   processed on the large trawlers or export-
                                                                                                   ed for processing. The other half is pro-

                                                                                                   Left: Some of the areas in South Greenland
                                                                                                   which were already cultivated by the Norsemen
                                                                                                   are now used for sheep farming – as here at
                                                                                                   Igaliko. Photo: Kristian Fridriksson, Greenland
                                                                                                   Tourism. Below left: Today, Greenlandic fishing –
                                                                                                   and especially the large sea-going prawn traw-
                                                                                                   lers – constitutes the basis of Greenland’s eco-
                                                                                                   nomy. Photo: Royal Greenland. Below right: It is
                                                                                                   easy to see why the prawns are called “the red
                                                                                                   gold”. Photo: Ruth Gundahl Madsen.

Home Rule: Greenland’s Home Rule was estab-          symbolises the sea, with the white part of the
lished on 1 May 1979. As a symbol, the flag          circle representing icebergs and pack ice. In
Erfalasorput (Our Flag) was chosen. It was           addition, the red and white halves of the circle
drawn by the painter and graphic artist Thue         symbolise the rising and setting sun, which rep-
Christiansen (b. 1940), a former Landsstyre          resent the return of light and warmth at midsum-
member. The motif is white and red horizontal        mer. The red and white colours are the same as
bands with a circle in the opposite colours. The     in the Danish flag, Dannebrog, and therefore
colour white symbolises the ice cap, while           also represent the association with Denmark.
Greenland’s innumerable fjords are represented       The flag was launched on Greenland’s national
by the red part of the circle. The colour red also   day, 21 June 1985. Photo: Lars Reimers.

cessed at trading posts along the coast.                      Import of products to Greenland, per cent distribution
   The majority of the fishing industry                       on main groups
in Greenland is managed by the Home                                                      0
                                                                                     1                                                                   DKK 1,ooo
Rule owned limited company Royal                                                 5
                                                                                                 12                                Products for agriculture
Greenland A/S, which is also the largest                                                                                           and market gardening           15
company in Greenland. The company has                                                                                              Products for building and
four factories in West Greenland as well as                                                                                        construction                 416
trading posts in several settlements. It also             4                                                                        Other products for urban
owns many of the sea-going trawlers. In                                                                                            industries                   661
addition, it has factories in Denmark,                                                                                  19         Fuel                         758
Norway, Germany, Poland and Canada.                                                                                                Machinery, means of
                                                                                                                                   transport                    291
The main product is peeled prawns, which                                                                                           Food, beverages, tobacco     657
are sold on the northern European market.                                                                                          Clothes and shoes            125
The company’s trawlers mainly produce                19                                                                            Consumer durables and
unpeeled cooked or raw prawns, frozen at                                                                                           semi-durables                350
sea. The largest prawns are sold on the                                                                                            Consumer non-durables        165
Japanese market and the company is the                                                                                             Other                         18
world’s largest retailer of cold-water                                                                                                                         3,456
                                                                             8                        22
   Arctic Green Food A/S is also owned
by the Home Rule and manages approx.
                                                                   Export of products from Greenland, per cent distribution
                                                                   on main groups
                                                                                                           2                                              DKK 1,ooo
                                                                                             5                     2
    Opening towards the north                                      21                                          2                     Prawns                     1,197
    The Arctic Ocean and the North Pole have                                                                                         Greenland halibut            511
    long been regarded as an area of limited                                                                       3                                              129
    economic interest with waters four kilome-                                                                              2
                                                                                                                                     Scallops                      42
    tres deep and significant ice cover in con-                                                                         0
                                                                                                                                     Crabs                         53
    stant movement determined by the preva-
                                                                                                                                     Lumpfish roe                  38
    lent marine current. This has resulted in                                                                               7
                                                                                                                                     Other fish                    68
    limited access to the area. However, the ice
    is increasingly melting as a result of the                                                                                       Seal, whale and shark
                                                                                                                                     products                      46
    ocean getting warmer and this creates com-
                                                                                                                                     Sheep and other animal
    pletely new opportunities, partly in terms of                                                                       6            products                          2
    navigation and partly in terms on hunting
                                                                                                                                     Precious metal ore,
    and fishing as well as the exploitation of                                                                                       olivine, etc                 176
    the resources which are believed to exist in                                                                                     Other                        156
    the area, such as large quantities of oil and             50                                                                                                2,418
    natural gas. This raises the issue of owner-
    ship of the resources. From a Greenlandic
    and therefore also Danish perspective, it is a   25 smaller factories in settlements and                           Services, trade and sales
    question of whether there is a natural con-      small towns in Greenland. The company                             Much of Greenland’s wholesale and retail
    nection between the Greenlandic continen-        ensures that local fishermen and hunters                          business is managed by the publicly owned
    tal shelf and the long, narrow, submarine
                                                     have an opportunity to sell their catches                         company KNI – Kalaallit Niuerfiat (Green-
    Lomonosov mountain range. Extensive geo-
                                                     and its products are primarily sold on the                        land Trade). The company is divided into
    logical and geophysical investigations of
    the geographic structures in the area are
                                                     domestic market.                                                  two independent units: Pisiffik A/S, which
    therefore underway. If such a connection is         Finally, the private company Polar                             is jointly owned by the retail group Da-
    established, Greenland/Denmark will have         Seafood A/S manages a number of trawlers                          grofa (main shareholder), a selection of
    the disposal of energy reserves which are        and plants for processing especially prawns,                      Pisiffik’s employees and the Greenland
    thought to be the largest in the world.          but also other species, both in Greenland                         Home Rule, with 36 supermarkets, local
                                                     and Denmark.                                                      shops and specialist shops in the six largest
                                                        From hunting to fishing: Hunting and fishing are      out by most Greenlandic households. More than
                                                        important factors for both the economic devel-        5,000 small boats contribute to the household
                                                        opment and the Greenlandic identity. The sea-         supply of Greenlandic food through own catches
                                                        going fleet of large trawlers makes the largest       and the informal economy. Unlike other parts of
                                                        contribution to the national economy, while the       the Arctic, where most of the food is imported,
                                                        medium-large vessels play a key role in the large     Greenlandic products still constitute a signifi-
                                                        towns’ ability to maintain active fishing and a       cant part of the food supply and local hunting
                                                        fishing industry. The little dinghies are the basis   and fishing are prerequisites for maintaining the
                                                        of the settlements’ existence, but also of crucial    dispersed settlements. Photo: Royal Greenland.
                                                        importance to the hunting and fishing carried

Greenland’s towns offer rich shopping opportu-
nities for both Greenlandic and imported pro-
ducts. The photo shows the Coop Brugsen in
Nuuk. Photo: Coop Danmark.

towns in Greenland and Pilersuisoq A/S,
which supplies settlements and the 11
small towns with 65 shops on both west
and east coast. KNI is responsible for
approx. half the total turnover, while the
rest is handled by the coop FDB’s Brugsen
and various private businesses. Brugsen
manages 13 shops in seven towns. Together,
trade and sales employ approx. 3,000 peo-
ple (2004 figures). An important compo-
nent of Greenland’s trade is “the board”
(“brættet”), i.e. the place where hunters
and fishermen are able to sell seasonal
produce directly to the customers. Large
towns have purpose-built facilities with

                                                                                                              electricity and water supply for “brættet”,
          Total fishing by Greenlandic vessels by Greenland
                                                                                                              while small towns and settlements manage
                                                                                                              with open-air stands without any installa-
                                                                                                                 Greenland is well furnished with pri-
                                                                                                              vate services in the form of lawyers,
                                                                                                              accountants and other consultancy com-
                                                                                                              panies. These services are in demand by
                                                                                                              the shipping companies and large private
                                                                                                              businesses. Some of the major service
                                                                                                              companies are branches of large Danish
                                                                                                              consultancy companies.
            1995    1996     1997     1998       1999       2000      2001     2002      2003      2004          There are over 12,000 public employ-
                                                                                                              ees within administration and services.
             Greenland halibut                                                                                The Home Rule and the Landsstyre act as
                                                                                                              employers of most of the public employ-
                                                                                                              ees, who work in social institutions,
                                                                                                              health service, education, telecoms, NKI
                                                                                                              and the Landsstyre administration. Many
 12,000                                                                                                       of the jobs are in the capital Nuuk, with
                                                                                                              others distributed on the four municipal
  9,000                                                                                                       administrations, Greenland’s education
                                                                                                              system and the social institutions, such as
                                                                                                              homes for the elderly, nursery schools,
  3,000                                                                                                       crèches and youth centres. Most of the
                                                                                                              central administration jobs are within the
           1995     1996     1997     1998       1999       2000      2001     2002      2003      2004       police and legal system.
                                                                                                              Foreign trade
             Lumpfish                                                                                         Greenland’s foreign trade is dominated by

From Home Rule to Independence: In 1999, the      of the financial account between Greenland and
Landsstyre decided to set up an Independence      Denmark. The mandate also states that it is
Commission to clarify Greenland’s future status   exclusively for the Greenlandic people to decide
within the Danish Realm. The Commission pre-      whether they want independence. The work was
sented its report in 2003 and the subsequent      concluded on 17 April 2008 and will form the
work has been carried out within the framework    basis of a referendum in Greenland about
of the Greenlandic-Danish Independence            increased independence and therefore the
Commission. The work is based on the principle    future role of the Landsting. Photo: Laila K.
of corresponding rights and duties, with the      Nielsen.
presentation of a proposal for a rearrangement

The building of the Greenlandic university park
Ilimmarfik in Nuuk demonstrates the importance
attached to education in Greenland. Photo:
Birgit Kleist Pedersen.

a very broad range of imports and very
few exports, which is a manifestation of
Greenland’s need to import virtually all
necessities for daily survival and the reali-
sation of production. In addition, the for-
eign trade is characterised by extensive
trade with Denmark. The total imports
amounted to DKK 3.5 billion in 2006,
while the export revenue was approx.
DKK 2.4 billion. The trade deficit is cover-
ed by a block grant from Denmark of
more than DKK 3.2 billion a year. The
development in the new millennium has
been characterised by increasing imports
and stagnating exports. The export re-
venue has declined as a result of lower
prices for fish and prawns, while the cost

                                                  of imports has been growing, mainly due              tinent, there is very limited trade across
                                                  to increasing prices of energy products              the Davis Strait, mainly due to the limit-
                                                  such as oil and petrol.                              ed interest in Greenland’s products in a
                                                      Especially due to the very small domes-          region which itself has a large production
                                                  tic market, it is very limited what can be           in the same areas.
                                                  profitably produced in Greenland, but
                                                  attempts are regularly made to establish             Infrastructure
                                                  new activities. For instance, a beer bottling        Due to distances and the nature of the
                                                  plant and a fizzy drinks factory were                landscapes, there are no road connections
                                                  established in Nuuk in the 1980s and the             between the individual towns and settle-
                                                  hydroelectric plant at Buksefjorden started          ments. Shipping is still by far the most
                                                  production in 1993. The hydroelectric                important infrastructure element in Green-
                                                  plant has helped reduce the import of oil.           land, in terms of both volume and value. A
                                                  The establishment of a micro brewery                 well-developed freight system handles
                                                  has proved excellent business and the                transports between especially Greenland
                                                  plans to extend the hydroelectric capacity           and Denmark, but also to some extent
                                                  will further reduce the energy imports.              between Greenland and for instance
                                                      More than 90 per cent of the exports go          Iceland and Canada. Within Greenland,
                                                  to the EU, especially Denmark. Despite               some of the local passenger transport is
                                                  the closeness to the North American con-             also by ship, but most people travel by air.
                                                                                                       Local traffic is by helicopter, while trans-
                                                                                                       port between districts and large towns is
                                                  With its theatre, cinema, art exhibitions and spa-   by plane. Within the last decade, this traf-
                                                  ces for large-scale cultural events, the Culture
                                                                                                       fic has significantly increased as runways
                                                  Centre in Nuuk provides the framework for a rich
                                                  cultural life in Greenland’s main town. It promo-    have been established by most major
                                                  tes both tradition and renewal. Photo: Ruth          towns. The main air traffic hub is Kanger-
                                                  Gundahl Madsen, Greenland Tourism.                   lussuaq (Søndre Strømfjord).

                                                          Part of the Danish monarchy: The change of            concerning Greenland’s independence” to signal
                                                          Greenland’s status from colony to Danish county       the desire for a good relationship between the
                                                          in 1953, to Home Rule in 1979 and in the near         federation parties, based on mutual respect. The
                                                          future to expanded independence has had a             royal family is always met with great enthusiasm
                                                          great effect on the relationship with Denmark,        when visiting Greenland. The enthusiasm is
                                                          but regardless of the changes, the Greenlanders       mutual, e.g. when Crown Prince Frederik (photo)
                                                          have shown a desire to maintain both the feder-       was received by excited children during a visit to
                                                          ation with Denmark and the association with the       Thule. Photo: Keld Navntoft, Scanpix.
                                                          Danish royal family. In relation to the federation,
                                                          reference is made to a “Partnership contract

                                      Public income, DKK 1,000                                                  teacher training college, a socio-educa-
                                                                                                                tional college, business schools and a small
           Gross residual income
                                                                                                                university. Several of these studies are
         Public quasi-companies
                                                                                                                gathered in a university park – Ilimmarfik
           Interest and dividends                                                                               – which allows closer collaboration
                  Production and                                                                                between the individual units.
                     import taxes
                    Income taxes
                                                                                                                Culture and communication
                EU fishing licence
                                                                                                                Greenland’s church is part of the national
       National Bank of Denmark                                                                                 church of Denmark and therefore the
            Block grant from the                                                                                Evangelical-Lutheran community. In addi-
                    Danish state
                                                                                                                tion, there are various other religious
                 Other subsidies
                                                                                                                communities in Greenland, such as
                                           500         1,000    1,500     2,000     2,500    3,000     3,500
                                                                                                                Catholicism, Adventism, Pentecostalism,
                                      Public expenditure, functional distribution, DKK 1,000                    Baha’i, Jehovah’s Witnesses and several
                                                                                                                others. In total, there are 92 churches and
                   Public services
                                                                                                                other religious venues in the whole coun-
      Defence, fishing inspection                                                                               try (2007 figures).
            Public order, security                                                                                  Greenland’s National Museum and
                                                                                                                Archive serves as the central museum for
                                                                                                                Greenland, but in addition several local
                   Health service                                                                               museums cover the individual local com-
      Social security and welfare                                                                               munities.
                                                                                                                    Despite the vast distances and the
                                                                                                                nature of the landscape, communication
      Religious, recreational and                                                                               in Greenland is very well developed. A
                 cultural services
                                                                                                                digital radio link along the coast consti-
                    Energy supply
                                                                                                                tutes the backbone of Greenland’s telecom-
Fishing, hunting, agriculture, etc.                                                                             munications network. The communica-
Raw material extraction, industry,                                                                              tion out of the country, especially with
       building and construction
                                                                                                                Denmark, is also well developed. After the
      Transport, communication
                                                                                                                cable connections with Denmark were
        Trade, services, tourism,
          business development                                                                                  established in 1961, they constituted the
     Non-functional expenditure                                                                                 main communication link, but their
                                                 500           1,000        1,500        2,000
                                                                                                                importance has now been completely
                                                                                                                overtaken by satellites.
                                                                                                                    KNR – Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa
   Social services and education                         possible to obtain an education without                (Greenland Broadcasting Corporation)
   Greenland has a well-developed, but also              leaving Greenland. Attempts are being                  has overall responsibility for radio and tele-
   expensive social safety net. In 2007, the             made to organise various types of voca-                vision services in Greenland. In addition
   benefits amounted to approx. DKK 1.9                  tional training at a regional level. Hitherto,         to numerous locally produced radio pro-
   billion. The main social services comprise            14 local vocational schools have covered               grammes, which fill almost the entire 24-
   old age pension, early retirement pension,            the areas building and construction, iron              hour broadcasting schedule, a relatively
   educational grants, social benefits in con-           and metal, sales and office work, food and             large number of television programmes
   nection with unemployment and child                   fishing industry. The schools are now                  are also produced in Greenland. The rest
   benefit. In many settlements, especially              being merged into a number of regional                 of the television programmes are mainly
   old age pension constitutes a significant             education centres. In addition, there are              imported from Denmark, but especially
   part of the population’s total income.                upper secondary schools in the towns of                American-produced films also constitute a
   It is an important objective for the Home             Nuuk, Qaqortoq, Aasiaat and Sisimiut.                  significant element.
   Rule that it should to a large extent be              Higher education institutions include a                    The building of the Culture Centre in

Factsheet Denmark. Published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs           Translation: Siri Fischer Hansen.
of Denmark.                                                               Design: Ole Jensen - ojdesign.
Address: Asiatisk Plads 2, DK-1448 Copenhagen K, Denmark.                 Reproduction of the text, with or without
Telephone: +45 33 92 00 00. Fax: +45 32 54 05 33.                         acknowledgement, is permitted.
E-mail: um@um.dk. Website: www.um.dk.                                     Published June 2008.
Editor: Flemming Axmark.
Picture editor: Kirstine Fryd.                                            ISBN 978-87-7667-926-2

                                                                                                   The beautiful Greenlandic cemeteries illustrate
                                                                                                   the importance of the church in today’s
                                                                                                   Greenlandic society. Photo: Fillippo Barbanera,
                                                                                                   Greenland Tourism.

                                                                                                   the 20th century. This is also a central
                                                                                                   theme for many poets, such as Hans
                                                                                                   Anthon Lynge (Aaju) (b. 1945) and Aqqa-
                                                                                                   luk Lynge (b. 1947), while issues such as
                                                                                                   existence and identity are key themes for
                                                                                                   instance for Jessie Kleeman (b. 1959).
                                                                                                       Traditional drumming song is still
                                                                                                   practised as a cultural element, but apart
                                                                                                   from that, the polyphonic singing tradi-
                                                                                                   tion introduced by the Moravian Brethren
                                                                                                   has been very dominant in Greenland. It
                                                                                                   can be heard both in churches and at con-
                                                                                                   certs given by the many choirs, such as
                                                                                                   the popular Greenlandic choir Mik. The
Nuuk in 1997 established an important              land’s great graphic artists, taking her        whalers also influenced the Greenlandic
focus for Greenland’s rich cultural life,          starting point in man’s meeting with            music and dance tradition by introducing
both as a contact point for cultural experi-       Greenland’s magnificent nature, in line         the polka, but today, Greenland’s music
ences from abroad and as a presenter of            with both the older generation of artists       scene is mainly characterised by rhythmic
contemporary and traditional Greenlandic           such as Jens Rosing (b. 1925), Kristian         music, with rock bands such as Sumé,
culture. The theatre company Silamiut is           Olsen (Aaju) (b. 1942) and Kiistat Lund         G60 and Zikaza. Well-known performers
Greenland’s only professional theatre, with        (b. 1942) and the younger generation            are Rasmus Lyberth (b. 1951), Ulf Fleischer
headquarters in Nuuk, where it also runs           such as Anne-Birthe Hove (b. 1951),             (b. 1952) and Ole Kristiansen (b. 1965),
a theatre school, but all over the country,        Bodil Buuti Petersen (b. 1955) and Naja         but the most famous singer in and outside
small theatre and music groups form the            Abelsen (b. 1964).                              Greenland is Julie Berthelsen (b. 1979),
core of a very lively cultural scene.                  Story-telling was formerly a key ele-       who has represented Greenland in many
    Both traditional and modern art are            ment in Greenland, but with the intro-          international contexts.
richly manifested in Greenland. Green-             duction of writing in the 18th century              Similarly, the traditional drumming
landic art has always been closely associat-       and the establishment of the South              dance has largely been superseded by the
ed with nature and natural materials and           Greenland Printing Press in 1857, the           more contemporary approach of a num-
in contemporary art, traditional shapes            written word became an important part of        ber of amateur theatre groups, which
and symbols are combined with modern               Greenland’s cultural life. The national         incorporate the traditional modes of
forms of expression, just as nature contin-        song, “Nunarput utoqarsuanngoravit”,            expression using masks and face painting,
ues to play an important role in all art           was written by the national poet Henrik         while focusing on current issues such as
forms. Soapstone, bone and ivory from              Lund (1875-1948) with music by the              identity and generation change. The most
walrus, narwhal and humpback whale are             composer Jonathan Petersen (1891-1960).         prominent is the above-mentioned theatre
important materials for carving figures            Knud Rasmussen (1879-1933) wrote fic-           group Silaamiut.
and sculptures, with artists such as Chri-         tion inspired by the Greenlandic tradition                            Rasmus Ole Rasmussen
stian Rosing (b. 1944) and Aka Høegh (b.           and at the same time was probably the                      Senior researcher, lic. scient., PhD
1947) as important representatives. For            most important documenter of Green-
several years, the latter has gathered a           land’s legends and stories as well as the
group of other sculptors in her native             way of life of the Polar communities.           Further information
town of Qaqortoq, where they carve                 Many fiction writers, such as Mathias
sculptures directly into the rocks, thus           Storch (1883-1957) and Otto Sandgreen           www.greenland.com
creating a completely unique townscape.            (1914-1999), deal with the major changes        www.expogreenland.com
She is also well-known as one of Green-            occurring in the Greenlandic society in         www.statgreen.gl


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