National Profiles > Regions > Northern America > Greenland
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Region: Northern America
2015 Population1: 56,186
Total Area (sq.miles): 836,330
Life Expectancy at Birth2: ---
Gross National Income Per Capita (PPP 2016 US $)2: ---
Official Religion(s) or Church(es)3: Lutheranism

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Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and Denmark, the colonial powers, as well as the nearby island of Iceland) for more than a millennium. In 2008, the people of Greenland passed a referendum supporting greater autonomy; 75% of votes cast were in favour. Greenland is, in area, the world's largest island, over three-quarters of which is covered by the only contemporary ice sheet outside of Antarctica. With a population of about 56,370 (2013), it is the least densely populated country in the world. Greenland has been inhabited off and on for at least the last 4,500 years by Arctic peoples whose forebears migrated there from what is now Canada. Norsemen settled the uninhabited southern part of Greenland, beginning in the 10th century, and Inuit peoples arrived in the 13th century. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century. In the early 18th century, Scandinavia and Greenland came back into contact with each other, and Denmark established sovereignty over the island. Having been claimed by Denmark–Norway for centuries, Greenland became a Danish colony in 1814, and a part of the Danish Realm in 1953 under the Constitution of Denmark. In 1973, Greenland joined the European Economic Community with Denmark. However, in a referendum in 1982, a majority of the population voted for Greenland to withdraw from the EEC, and this was put into effect when Greenland left the EEC in 1985. In 1979, Denmark had granted home rule to Greenland, and in 2008, Greenlanders voted in favour of the Self-Government Act, which transferred more power from the Danish royal government to the local Greenlandic government. Under the new structure, in effect since 21 June 2009, Greenland can gradually assume responsibility for policing, judicial system, company law, accounting, and auditing; mineral resource activities; aviation; law of legal capacity, family law and succession law; aliens and border controls; the working environment; and financial regulation and supervision, while the Danish government retains control of foreign affairs and defence. It also retains control of monetary policy, providing an initial annual subsidy of DKK 3.4 billion, planned to diminish gradually over time as Greenland's economy is strengthened by increased income from the extraction of natural resources.4



1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

2.  Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

3.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

4.  Note: All country histories and flags were obtained from, 2015. (

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