Cruising to Greenland


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 over stringent fishing quotas.

Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament. The law went into effect the following year. Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland's foreign affairs.


Location: Northern North America, island between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada
Geographic coordinates: 72 00 N, 40 00 W
Map references: Arctic Region
Area: total: 2,166,086 sq km


44,087 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 3 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line


Arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters


Flat to gradually sloping icecap covers all but a narrow, mountainous, barren, rocky coast

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Gunnbjorn 3,700 m


The economy remains critically dependent on exports of fish and substantial support from the Danish Government, which supplies about half of government revenues. The public sector, including publicly-owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in the economy.

Despite several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration activities, it will take a number of years before production can materialize. Tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential, and even this is limited due to a short season and high costs.


Airports: 14 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 9
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 5
Roadways: total: NA km (while there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-town transport takes place either by sea or by air) (2006)

Merchant marine

Total: 2 ships (1000 GRT or over) 4,236 GRT/400 DWT
By type: passenger 2
Registered in other countries: 2 (Cyprus 1, Denmark 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals



Managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Arctic Ocean - Bermuda - Spain and Canary Islands - Cape Verde Islands - Faeroes Islands - France - Greenland - Iceland - Ireland - Portugal, the Azores and Madeira - United Kingdom

Further Reading

Back to "vacations"