Greenland: 55,992 (January 2019)
The Faroe Islands: 52,124 (January 2020)
Denmark: 5,822,763 (January 2020)
Arctic Indigenous Peoples
The Kingdom consists of three parts – Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands – and, by virtue of Greenland is centrally located as a coastal state in the Arctic. This involves specific rights and obligations in the region. Today, both Greenland and the Faroe Islands have extensive self-government.
Greenland and the Faroe Islands have had home rule since 1948 and 1979, respectively. Home rule arrangements have been continuously modernized, most recently by the Takeover Act on Power of Matters and Fields of Responsibility and the Act on Faroes Foreign Policy Powers of 2005 in the Faroe Islands, and the Greenland Self-Government Act of 2009.
The three parts of the Realm share a number of values and interests and all have a responsibility in and for the Arctic region.
In an equal partnership between the three parts of the Danish Realm, the Kingdom of Denmark speaks with one voice in the Arctic Council.
Greenland is the world’s largest non-continental island and is geographically located on the North American continent. However, in terms of geopolitics, it is a part of Europe. Greenland’s icecap covers 81 percent of its area, leaving 15 percent of the coastline inhabitable. There are 17 towns and 58 villages located throughout the country. The population density is the lowest in the world. Counting the ice-free areas only, the population is a mere 0.3 persons per square kilometer.
Greenlanders are descendants from the Inuit Thule Culture. The Thule people were strong hunters, so traditionally hunting had been the most important source for survival of the Greenlandic people. Today, approximately 10 percent of the workforce is involved in the hunting industry. Fishing is Greenland’s primary industry, with major exports including shrimps, Greenland halibut and cod. Greenland is home to many mineral resources, including gold, rubies, diamonds, coppers, Rare Earth Elements and oil. The Tourism sector is also increasing, with tourist numbers rising. Greenland places an emphasis on developing sustainable tourism.
The Faroe Islands comprises a cluster of 18 mountainous islands situated halfway between Iceland and Scotland in the North Atlantic Ocean. Over 50,000 people live in the Faroe Islands. The inhabitants are made up almost exclusively of native Faroese people, who are originally of Scandinavian and Gaelic descent. While 17 of the 18 islands are currently inhabited, nearly 40 percent of the population lives in the capital city, Tórshavn.
Though the Faroe Islands are remote, they are well-positioned in the middle of the shipping route between Europe and North America, and a short flight away from major cities in Norther Europe. The Faroe Island’s relative isolation has contributed to the preservation of ancient traditions that shape the culture and livelihood.
The Faroe Islands’ main industry is fishing. The temperate waters off the coasts make an ideal environment for salmon, Faroese cod and langoustines, which have been an important global export for the Faroe Islands since the late 19th century. The Faroes also have a strong education system, with the number of students attending the University of Faroe Islands increasing significantly. Tourism is also a relatively new but growing industry, with many people interested in visiting its so-called unspoiled and unexplored land.
Denmark is the southernmost of the Scandinavian countries, and consists of a peninsula, Jutland and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. Over 5.8 million people lives in Denmark. Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands are equal entities within the Kingdom of Denmark. The Self-Government Arrangements transfer political competence and responsibility from the Danish political authorities to the Greenlandic and Faroese authorities. The Danish Government constitutionally conducts Foreign and Security policy of the Kingdom of Denmark in close cooperation with the Governments of Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The Danish Armed Forces undertake important tasks in the Arctic including the enforcement of sovereignty.
The Kingdom of Denmark’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2009 – 2011 was an important priority for Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. At the Ministerial Meeting in Nuuk in 2011, the Nuuk Declaration was adopted, which among other things determined the role and criteria for admission of new observers, established a permanent secretariat for the Arctic Council in Tromsø, Norway, set up a task force to develop an instrument for preventing and managing potential oil spills in the Arctic and mandated an enhanced communication effort of the Arctic Council. Furthermore, the Ministers signed an agreement on search and rescue in the Arctic (SAR), which as the first legally binding agreement under the auspice of the Arctic Council added a new dimension to the Council’s work.
Faroe Islands representative
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Government of the Faroe Islands
Uiloq Mulvad Jessen
Department of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Greenland
Chief Adviser – Arctic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Next Arctic Council Chairmanship: 2025-2027