• Indigenous peoples in Greenland

    Indigenous peoples in Greenland

    The indigenous peoples of Greenland are Inuit and make up a majority of the Greenlandic population. Greenland is a self-governing country within the Danish Realm, and although Denmark has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Greenland’s population continue to face challenges.
  • Peoples

    50,000 out of Greenland’s 56,000 peoples are Inuit
  • Rights

    2007: Denmark adopts the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Children's rights

    2010: The Government of Greenland and UNICEF Denmark enter into a partnership agreement to raise awareness of children's rights in Greenland

Country Facts

Capital Nuuk (15,000 inhabitants)
Area 2,166,086 sq km (410,449 sq km ice-free, 1,755,637 sq km ice-covered) (2000 est.)
Population  11,237,196 inhabitants (XI Population Census, 2002)
Indigenous Population 58,000, of which 52,000 are indigenous Greenlanders (‘kalaallit’) and 6,000 Danes
Legal status Greenland is a self-governing territory within the Danish realm. The Greenland Government is a public government. In contrast to Denmark, Greenland is not a member of the European Union.
Government type Parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy.
Political system Greenland has its own parliament elected by all Danish citizens that have lived for more than 6 months in the country. The government, which rules on most internal matters, is appointed by parliament.
International conventions Greenland is part of all international conventions ratified by Denmark, including ILO Convention 169.
Language Greenlandic (‘kalaallisut’) is the national language and Danish is the first foreign language. Both languages are taught in schools. Danish and Greenlandic are both official languages.
Economy The per capita Gross Domestic Product is estimated at 143,647 DKK(2002). This is 61% of Danish GDP but higher than in Spain, for example. Fishing is the main industry of the country and fishing products represent 86 % of export value. Hunting of marine mammals is important to the subsistence of the population. Mining and tourism are second in importance.
Social affairs Greenland is a highly developed welfare society but suffers from a large number of social problems. Life expectancy for men is 63 years and for women 69.
Health Greenland suffers to an increasing extent from the same health problems as other welfare societies. Health-related social problems such as alcohol abuse, suicides and violence are widespread.
Education All children attend school for at least 10 years. Tere are three secondary schools in Greenland, a teacher training college, a number of professional educational institutions and a small university. There are a couple of thousand young Greenlanders studying in Denmark and abroad.

Sources: various sources including Statistics Greenland, CIA World Fact Book, The World Bank and UNDP


IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

Contact IWGIA

Prinsessegade 29 B, 3rd floor
DK 1422 Copenhagen
Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
E-mail: iwgia@iwgia.org
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