Most of the everyday necessities are imported. International trade is dominated by the trade with Denmark. In 2002, total imports amounted to almost DKK 2,900m, while the export revenue was approximately DKK 2,100m. The trade deficit is covered by a block grant from Denmark of over DKK 2,800m a year.
Prawns account for 56% of Greenland‘s exports and halibut, crab and cod make up the rest. In 2000, Greenland renegotiated its fishing agreement with the EU. This agreement, in force from 2001 to 2006, provides Greenland with an annual grant of DKK 320m in exchange for a series of EU fishing rights. The agreement also allows Greenland to sell its fish products as non-dutiable goods to the EU, and this export adds up to a yearly income of around DKK 200m. The main export countries are USA, Japan, Norway, Thailand, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland and Denmark.
There are roads in the towns, but the towns are not connected by a network of roads. Shipping is still the main element in Greenland‘s infrastructure. A well-developed freight system handles transport between Greenland and Denmark and increasingly also between Greenland and countries such as Iceland and Canada. Part of the local passenger transport within Greenland is by ship, but most people travel by air. Local traffic is by helicopter, while transport between the districts and the major towns is by plane. In recent years, air traffic has been developed and runways have been established near to several major towns. The main air traffic junction remains Kangerlussuaq.
Greenland has a well-developed but also costly social safety net. In 2001, the state contributed around DKK 1,700m towards the social system. The main social benefits include old-age and early retirement pension, educational grants, social security payments in connection with unemployment and family allowances.
The Home Rule Government strives to ensure that Greenlanders do not have to leave the island for their education and a number of regional training centres offer a broad range of vocational training. In addition, there are secondary schools in Nuuk, Qaqortoq, Aasiaat and Sisimiut. Higher education establishments include a college of education, a socio-educational college, business colleges and a small university (Ilisimatusarfik).
Rasmus Ole Rasmussen
Senior Lecturer, lic.scient.
Government of Greenland, 3900 Nuuk, Phone: (00299) 34 50 00