Greenland & Faro

Greenland and the Faroe Islands







Greenland suffered negative economic growth in the early 1990s, but since 1993 the economy has improved. A tight fiscal policy by the Greenland Home Rule Government since the late 1980s helped create a low inflation rate and surpluses in the public budget, but at the cost of rising foreign debt in the Home Rule Government's commercial entities. Since 1990, Greenland has registered a foreign trade deficit.

Following the closure of Greenland's last lead and zinc mine in 1989, Greenland's economy is solely dependent on the fishing and tourism and financial transfers from the Danish central government. Despite resumption of several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration activities, it will take several years before production will begin. Greenland's shrimp fishery is by far the largest source of income, since cod catches have dropped to historically low levels. Greenland also has a prominent whaling industry, Greenlandic Inuit whalers catch around 175 whales per year, making them the third largest hunt in the world after Japan and Norway, though their take is small compared to those nations, who annually averaged around 730 and 590 whales respectively in 1998–2007. The IWC treats the west and east coasts of Greenland as two separate population areas and sets separate quotas for each coast. The far more densely populated west coast accounts for over 90 percent of the catch. In a typical year around 150 minke and 10 fin whales are taken from west coast waters and around 10 minkes are from east coast waters. Since the fishing industry is in decline including whaling, tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential, and even this is limited due to the short season and high costs. The public sector plays a dominant role in Greenland's economy. Grants from mainland Denmark and EU fisheries payments make up about one-half of the home-rule government's revenues. Recently, Greenland has seen interest from other countries due to the possibilities of large amounts of natural resources, which include: coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, diamonds, gold, platinum, niobium, tantalite, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas.

The Faroe Islands also depend almost entirely on fisheries, tourism and related exports. Without Danish Government bailouts in 1992 and 1993, the Faroese economy would have gone bankrupt. Since 1995, the Faroese economy has seen a noticeable upturn, but remains extremely vulnerable. Recent off-shore oil finds close to the Faroese area give hope for Faroese deposits, too, which may form the basis for an economic rebound over the longer term. Like Greenland, the Faroe Islands are also known for its whaling industry, around 950 long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melaena) are caught each year, mainly during the summer. Other species are not hunted, though occasionally Atlantic white-sided dolphin can be found among the pilot whales. The hunt is known as the GrindadrĂ¡p. The Faroese whaling industry has recently been under attack by the media because of the way it is generally perceived.

Neither Greenland, nor the Faroe Islands are members of the European Union. Greenland left the European Economic Community in 1986 and the Faroe Islands declined membership in 1973, when Denmark joined.