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Greenland Economy Profile 2019

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Economy - overview

Greenland’s economy depends on exports of shrimp and fish, and on a substantial subsidy from the Danish Government. Fish account for over 90% of its exports, subjecting the economy to price fluctuations. The subsidy from the Danish Government is budgeted to be about $535 million in 2017, more than 50% of government revenues, and 25% of GDP.

The economy is expanding after a period of decline. The economy contracted between 2012 and 2014, grew by 1.7% in 2015 and by 7.7%in 2016. The expansion has been driven by larger quotas for shrimp, the predominant Greenlandic export, and also by increased activity in the construction sector, especially in Nuuk, the capital. Private consumption and tourism also are contributing to GDP growth more than in previous years. Tourism in Greenland grew annually around 20% in 2015 and 2016, largely a result of increasing numbers of cruise lines now operating in Greenland's western and southern waters during the peak summer tourism season.

The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays a dominant role in Greenland's economy. During the last decade the Greenland Self Rule Government pursued conservative fiscal and monetary policies, but public pressure has increased for better schools, health care, and retirement systems. The budget was in deficit in 2014 and 2016, but public debt remains low at about 5% of GDP. The government plans a balanced budget for the 2017–20 period.

Significant challenges face the island, including low levels of qualified labor, geographic dispersion, lack of industry diversification, the long-term sustainability of the public budget, and a declining population due to emigration. Hydrocarbon exploration has ceased with declining oil prices. The island has potential for natural resource exploitation with rare-earth, uranium, and iron ore mineral projects proposed, but a lack of infrastructure hinders development.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$2.413 billion (2015 est.)
$2.24 billion (2014 est.)
$2.203 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)
$2.221 billion (2015 est.) (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
7.7% (2016 est.)
1.7% (2015 est.)
-0.8% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$41,800 (2015 est.)
$38,800 (2014 est.)
$38,500 (2013 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 68.1% (2015 est.)
government consumption: 28% (2015 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 14.3% (2015 est.)
investment in inventories: -13.9% (2015 est.)
exports of goods and services: 18.2% (2015 est.)
imports of goods and services: -28.6% (2015 est.)
GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 15.9% (2015 est.)
industry: 10.1% (2015 est.)
services: 73.9% (2015)
Population below poverty line
16.2% (2015 est.)
Labor force
26,840 (2015 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 15.9%
industry: 10.1%
services: 73.9% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate
9.1% (2015 est.)
10.3% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Distribution of family income - Gini index
33.9 (2015 est.)
34.3 (2014 est.)
Budget
revenues: 1.719 billion (2016 est.)
expenditures: 1.594 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
77.4% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
5.6% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
Public debt
13% of GDP (2015 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
0.3% (January 2017 est.)
1.2% (January 2016 est.)
Central bank discount rate

NA

Agriculture - products
sheep, cow, reindeer, fish, shellfish
Industries
fish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut); anorthosite and ruby mining; handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards
Industrial production growth rate
NA
Exports
$407.1 million (2015 est.)
$599.7 million (2014 est.)
Exports - commodities
fish and fish products 91% (2015 est.)
Exports - partners
Denmark 82.5%, Iceland 4.4% (2017)
Imports
$783.5 million (2015 est.)
$866.1 million (2014 est.)
Imports - commodities
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products
Imports - partners
Denmark 69.7%, Sweden 10.6% (2017)
Debt - external
$36.4 million (2010)
$58 million (2009)
Exchange rates
Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -
6.586 (2017 est.)
6.7309 (2016 est.)
6.7309 (2015 est.)
6.7326 (2014 est.)
5.6125 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on December 7, 2019