Facts about Greenland

For a concise and clear introduction to Greenland, we recommend reading Statistic Greenland's annual Greenland in Figures (2018) (pdf file).

Kalaallit Nunaat - Greenland

Earlier the indigenous population, the Inuit called their country Inuit Nunaat meaning country of human beings. Today the country is called Kalaallit Nunaat –“Country of the Greenlanders”. The world's largest island with 2.166.086 km2 (which could cover the area from Norway to Sahara) situated on the northern American continent between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada. The northernmost point of Greenland, Cape Morris Jesup, is only 740 km from then North Pole. The southernmost point is Cape Farewell, which lies at about the same latitude as Oslo, Norway. However, 85 % of the area is covered by the icecap meaning that only 15 % of the costal line is inhabitable.



The population of Greenland is 56.648 with 14.719 inhabitants living in the capital Nuuk.
The second largest city is Sisimiut (5.344), followed by Ilulissat (4.512) and Qaqortoq (3.238) besides these four growth centers situated on the west coast there are 18 towns and 120 villages in which the rest of the population lives. Greenlandic settlements are defined by having inhabitants between 50 – 500.


The people

Approximately 4-5.000 years ago the first Inuit migration took place and people living in Greenland today are descendents from the last migration (the Thule Culture) which took place around year 800 A.C. The Greenlanders call themselves “Kalaallit” and are an indigenous Inuit people: Inuit meaning “human being”. They constitute 85 % of the population while the remaining are primarily Danes. During and after colonial times a proportion of the Inuit intermarried with Europeans, why a lot the Greenlanders today can number Inuit and Europeans among their ancestors.



The prevailing religion in Greenland is Protestantism and Greenland is an independent diocese in the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church with a bishop appointed by Denmark.
However, there are other religions and faiths of beliefs such as the Roman Catholic Church, New Apostolic Church, the Evangelic Ebenezer, Bahá’í's and Jehovas Witnesses.


The Greenlandic language is a polysynthetic language and belongs to the Eskimo-Aleutic languages. This means that it differs strongly from the Indo-European languages like French, English and German. West Greenlandic is the official language but there are distinct dialects spoken in Eastern and Northern Greenland. Greenland is a bilingual country in which Greenlandic is the main language and Danish is the other. In official context both languages can be used.


The only way to travel to Greenland is by airplane, to one of the main gateways: Kangerlussuaq (Søndre Strømfjord) in the west or Narsarsuaq in the south - both are former American air bases. The flight time is approximately 4-5 hours. There are no roads between the towns on the coast, so in order to get around locally you can travel with fixed-wing planes, helicopters or by sea. From Nanortalik in the south to Sisimiut in the north-west you can sail the whole year, while travel on the distance from Sisimiut and northwards starts, at the earliest, in May because of the frozen sea. The ships sail to towns and settlements along the coast and they carry passengers as well as cargo.