Greenland

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Greenland
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Greenland
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Map of Greenland
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Photos of Greenland
 
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OF GREENLAND
 

Introduction

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Greenland, the world's largest island, is about 81% ice capped. Vikings reached the island in the 10th century from Iceland; Danish colonization began in the 18th century, and Greenland was made an integral part of Denmark in 1953. It joined the European Community (now the EU) with Denmark in 1973 but withdrew in 1985 over a dispute centered on stringent fishing quotas. Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament; the law went into effect the following year. Greenland voted in favor of increased self-rule in November 2008 and acquired greater responsibility for internal affairs in June 2009. Denmark, however, continues to exercise control of Greenland's foreign affairs, security, and financial policy in consultation with Greenland's Home Rule Government.
 
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Geography

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Northern North America, island between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada
 
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72 00 N, 40 00 W
 
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total: 2,166,086 sq km
country comparison to the world: 12
land: 2,166,086 sq km (410,449 sq km ice-free, 1,755,637 sq km ice-covered)
 
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slightly more than three times the size of Texas
 
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0 km
 
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44,087 km
 
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territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
continental shelf: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
 
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arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters
 
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flat to gradually sloping icecap covers all but a narrow, mountainous, barren, rocky coast
 
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lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunnbjorn Fjeld 3,700 m
 
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coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, diamonds, gold, platinum, niobium, tantalite, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas
 
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arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
 
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NA
 
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continuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island
 
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protection of the arctic environment; preservation of the Inuit traditional way of life, including whaling and seal hunting
 
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dominates North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe; sparse population confined to small settlements along coast; close to one-quarter of the population lives in the capital, Nuuk; world's second largest ice cap
 
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People and Society

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noun: Greenlander(s)
adjective: Greenlandic
 
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Inuit 89%, Danish and other 11% (2009)
 
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Greenlandic (East Inuit) (official), Danish (official), English
 
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Evangelical Lutheran, traditional Inuit spiritual beliefs
 
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57,670 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
 
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0-14 years: 22.3% (male 6,514/female 6,330)
15-64 years: 70.2% (male 21,599/female 18,861)
65 years and over: 7.6% (male 2,269/female 2,097) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 33.6 years
male: 35 years
female: 32.1 years (2011 est.)
 
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0.05% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 189
 
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14.6 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 140
 
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8.12 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
 
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-5.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
 
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urban population: 84% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 0.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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NUUK (capital) 15,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.051 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.15 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.05 male(s)/female
total population: 1.12 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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total: 10.05 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 148
male: 11.47 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 70.96 years
country comparison to the world: 142
male: 68.33 years
female: 73.74 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.13 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
 
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NA
 
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100 (1999)
country comparison to the world: 161
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2001 est.)
 
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NA
 
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Government

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conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Greenland
local long form: none
local short form: Kalaallit Nunaat
 
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part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979
 
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parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy
 
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name: Nuuk (Godthab)
geographic coordinates: 64 11 N, 51 45 W
time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
note: Greenland is divided into four time zones
 
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4 municipalities (kommuner, singular kommune); Kujalleq, Qaasuitsup, Qeqqata, Sermersooq
note: the North and East Greenland National Park (Avannaarsuani Tunumilu Nuna Allanngutsaaliugaq) and the Thule Air Base in Pituffik (in northwest Greenland) are two unincorporated areas; the national park's 972,000 sq km - about 46% of the island - make it the largest national park in the world and also the most northerly
 
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none (extensive self-rule as part of the Kingdom of Denmark; foreign affairs is the responsibility of Denmark, but Greenland actively participates in international agreements relating to Greenland)
 
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June 21 (longest day)
 
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(November 2008) Act on Greenland Self Government
 
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the laws of Denmark, where applicable, apply
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Soeren Hald MOELLER (since April 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Kuupik KLEIST (since 12 June 2009)
cabinet: Home Rule Government elected by the Parliament (Landsting) on the basis of the strength of parties
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elections: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; prime minister elected by parliament (usually the leader of the majority party)
election results: Kuupik KLEIST elected prime minister
 
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unicameral Parliament or Inatsisartut (Landsting) (31 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 2 June 2009 (next to be held by 2014)
election results: percent of vote by party - IA 43.7%, Siumut 26.5%, Demokratiit 12.7%, Atassut 10.9%; Kattusseqatigiit 3.8%, other 2.4%; seats by party - IA 14, Siumut 9, Demokraatiit 4, Atassut 3, Kattusseqatigiit 1
note: two representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 13 November 2007 (next to be held by November 2011); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Siumut 1, Inuit Ataqatigiit 1
 
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High Court or Landsret (appeals can be made to the Ostre Landsret or Eastern Division of the High Court or Supreme Court in Copenhagen)
 
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Atassut Party (Solidarity) [Gerhardt PETERSEN] (a conservative party favoring continuing close relations with Denmark); Demokratiit [Jens B. FREDERIKSEN]; Inuit Ataqatigiit or IA (Inuit Community) [Kuupik KLEIST] (a leftist party favoring complete independence from Denmark rather than home rule); Kattusseqatigiit (Candidate List) [Anthon FREDERIKSEN] (an independent right-of-center party with no official platform); Siumut (Forward Party) [Alega HAMMOND] (a social democratic party advocating more distinct Greenlandic identity and greater autonomy from Denmark)
 
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other: conservationists; environmentalists
 
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Arctic Council, NC, NIB, UPU
 
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none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
 
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none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
 
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two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red with a large disk slightly to the hoist side of center - the top half of the disk is red, the bottom half is white; the design represents the sun reflecting off a field of ice; the colors are the same as those of the Danish flag and symbolize Greenland's links to the Kingdom of Denmark
 
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polar bear
 
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name: "Nunarput utoqqarsuanngoravit" ("Our Country, Who's Become So Old" also translated as "You Our Ancient Land")
lyrics/music: Henrik LUND/Jonathan PETERSEN
note: adopted 1916; the government also recognizes "Nuna asiilasooq" as a secondary anthem
 
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Economy

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The economy remains critically dependent on exports of shrimp and fish and on a substantial subsidy - about $650 million in 2009 - from the Danish Government, which supplies nearly 60% of government revenues. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. Greenland's GDP contracted about 2% in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown. Budget surpluses turned to deficits beginning in 2007 and unemployment has risen. During the last decade the Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) pursued conservative fiscal and monetary policies, but public pressure has increased for better schools, health care and retirement systems. The Greenlandic economy has benefited from increasing catches and exports of shrimp, Greenland halibut and, more recently, crabs. Due to Greenland's continued dependence on exports of fish - which account for 82% of exports - the economy remains very sensitive to foreign developments. International consortia are increasingly active in exploring for hydrocarbon resources off Greenland's western coast, and international studies indicate the potential for oil and gas fields in northern and northeastern Greenland. In May 2007 a US aluminum producer concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Greenland Home Rule Government to build an aluminum smelter and a power generation facility, which takes advantage of Greenland's abundant hydropower potential. Within the area of mining, olivine sand continues to be produced and gold production has resumed in south Greenland. Tourism also offers another avenue of economic growth for Greenland, with increasing numbers of cruise lines now operating in Greenland's western and southern waters during the peak summer tourism season.
 
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$1.989 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
$2.03 billion (2008 est.)
 
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$2.03 billion (2008)
 
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-2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
1.5% (2008 est.)
4% (2007 est.)
 
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$36,500 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
$35,900 (2007 est.)
 
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agriculture: 4.9%
industry: 31.9%
services: 63.2% (2007 est.)
 
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28,240 (January 2009)
country comparison to the world: 205
 
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agriculture: 4.9%
industry: 31.9%
services: 63.2% (2007 est.)
 
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6.8% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
7.3% (2006 est.)
 
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9.2% (2007 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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revenues: $1.47 billion
expenditures: $1.51 billion (2007)
 
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72.4% of GDP (2007)
country comparison to the world: 4
 
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-2% of GDP (2007)
country comparison to the world: 75
 
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9.4% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
1% (2005 est.)
 
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forage crops, garden and greenhouse vegetables; sheep, reindeer; fish
 
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fish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut); gold, niobium, tantalite, uranium, iron and diamond mining; handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards
 
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NA%
 
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310.3 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
 
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288.6 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 172
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
 
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4,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
 
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1,050 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
 
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4,976 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
 
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$485 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 169
$428 million (2007)
 
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fish and fish products 72%, metals 10% (2008)
 
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Denmark 63.7%, Japan 12.1%, China 8.5% (2010)
 
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$867 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 176
$669 million (2007)
 
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machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products
 
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Denmark 59.5%, Sweden 20.8%, UK 6.6% (2010)
 
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$58 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 191
$25 million (1999)
 
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Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -
5.624 (2010)
5.361 (2009)
5.4797 (2007)
5.9468 (2006)
 
 
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Communications

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21,800 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 188
 
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57,300 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 198
 
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general assessment: adequate domestic and international service provided by satellite, cables and microwave radio relay; totally digital since 1995
domestic: microwave radio relay and satellite
international: country code - 299; satellite earth stations - 15 (12 Intelsat, 1 Eutelsat, 2 Americom GE-2 (all Atlantic Ocean)) (2000)
 
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the Greenland Broadcasting Company provides public radio and television services throughout the island with a broadcast station and a series of repeaters; a few private local television and radio stations broadcast; Danish public radio rebroadcasts are available (2007)
 
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.gl
 
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15,668 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 116
 
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36,000 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 179
 
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Transportation

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15 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 147
 
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total: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 6 (2010)
 
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total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2010)
 
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note: although there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-urban transport takes place either by sea or air (2005)
 
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total: 1
country comparison to the world: 155
by type: passenger 1 (2010)
 
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Sisimiut
 
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Military

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no regular military forces
 
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males age 16-49: 15,280 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 10,765
females age 16-49: 11,399 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 488
female: 478 (2010 est.)
 
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defense is the responsibility of Denmark
 
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Transnational Issues

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