• 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

The Indigenous Greenlanders

The official statistics do not distinguish along ethnic lines. People are either 'born in Greenland' or born 'outside Greenland'. However, in relation to numbers these figures are more or less assumed to be the same as the numbers of indigenous Greenlanders (kalaallit) and outsiders (Danes). Persons born in Greenland of Danish parents are registered as Greenlanders while Greenlanders born in Denmark of Greenlandic parents are registered as Danes. However, in daily life everyone knows who is a Greenlander and who is a Dane. It is assumed that about 95 per cent of Greenlanders speak Greenlandic while only very few Danes in Greenland are able to speak this language.

On January 1, 2004 there were 56,854 persons in Greenland, of whom 6,758 or 12 per cent were born outside Greenland. An estimated 8-10,000 Greenlanders live in Denmark; many of these are in education, others have moved to Denmark with their Danish husband or wife, and there are also those Greenlanders who prefer to spend their old age in a warmer climate.

The people of Greenland live in more than 80 communities spread along the vast coast of West, East and North Greenland . However, a concentration policy and the growth of industrialised fishing has meant that 83 per cent of the population live in the 18 administrative centres called towns, with 51 per cent of these living in just three major towns, while 17 per cent live in more than 70 small communities, called settlements.

For more information about indigenous Greenlanders (kalaallit), visit the website www.inuit.org


The Greenlanders are historically and linguistically related to the Inuit of northern Canada, Alaska and Siberia. However, the colonisation of the Arctic by Denmark, Canada, the USA and Russia established lasting political, social and economic borders that remain to this day. It was not long after World War II that contact between the Greenlanders and the Inuit of Canada was resumed and, in 1977, an organisation of all Inuit, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), was established.

While the ICC deals with a number of international cultural and environmental issues and has been very active within the UN human rights system, there are a wide variety of cultural and social associations in Greenland working on women's rights, representing young people, students association, etc.



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

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Indigenous World

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