How can Greenland help with the Syrian refugees crisis?

Who are the Syrian refugees?

The refugees that are being displaced from Syria are citizens of that country. They are leaving Syria due to the brutal civil war that has been raging the past three years. Through the data tracked by the United Nations it has been determined that "Almost three million people have fled across Syria's borders to escape the bloody civil war ... (and) the daily flow of men, women and children has become one of the largest forced migrations since World War Two" (Rogers et all, 2015). As of 2015, over 11 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes while over four million have had to leave the country entirely ( The Syrian refugees are typically younger families with half of them being children ( Most of the refugees practice different branches of Islam and most of the refugees are of Arab heritage. The official language of the country is Arab (

Greenland Demographics

Greenland is a large island that is found off of the coast of Canada. It is actually the largest island in the world that is not its own continent.

  • Average Age of Greenland Citizen: 34 years old
  • Population Density of Greenland: .03 people/square kilometer
  • Current Population of Greenland: 57,000
  • Age Distribution of Greenland Population:
0-14 years: 21.5% (male 6,287/female 6,099)
15-24 years: 16.5% (male 4,843/female 4,702)
25-54 years: 42.5% (male 12,928/female 11,590)
55-64 years: 11.3% (male 3,681/female 2,818)
65 years and over: 8.3% (male 2,550/female 2,230)

  • Size of Greenland: 2,166,086 square kilometers
  • 81% of Greenland is covered in ice and is uninhabitable
  • Ethnicity of Greenland: 81 % of Greenland's population is Inuit
  • Religion of Greenland: 90% of the population are Protestant Christians
  • Languages of Greenland: Both Greenlandic (an Inuit language) and Danish are the official languages of Greenland

Source: (


Greenland Job Market Information

According to, Greenland's economy is supported mostly by its fishing industry. Their main exports are fish, shrimp, and crabs. Most of the other jobs in the country are related to mining and agriculture. There is also a vibrant tourism market for Greenland ( For the total work force, Greenland reported a 4.2% unemployment rate. Along with a low unemployment rate, only 9.2% of the population lives below the poverty line (

When looking at wealth distribution in Greenland, you first need to examine their GDP. In 2014, the GDP of Greenland was 11.59 billion Danish Krones, which translates to 1.7 billion US Dollars. When distributed equally throughout the population, that leaves the GDP per capita around 37,000 US Dollars.

In Greenland, education is only required for ten years. Many students complete their secondary education in Greenland or in Denmark ( Many of the industries, such as fishing and mining, only require a basic education to be successful. With a lack of a road system and more mountainous and icy terrain, transportation of population is limited for many citizens.

Transporting Refugees from Syria to Greenland

Greenland is technically part of North America, so the transportation of refugees would be restricted to either plane or boat. According to Google Maps, the direct flight distance would be 6,065 km. There are currently no direct flights from Syria to Greenland, which means that the distance between the two would be even longer due to connecting flights. The transportation of refugees would most likely require a combination of motor vehicle, plane, and boat to move the refugees across the Atlantic to Greenland from Europe.
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Would Greenland be an appropriate place to settle Syrian refugees?

If the refugees are brought into Greenland, there will be a substantial shift to the population. The population of Greenland is low (only 57,000), and there have already been four million refugees that have left Syria. When looking at the number of refugees that could enter the population without drastically impacting the current population of Greenland, we would like to propose that Greenland take in 5,000 Syrian refugees.

While that does not sound like a high number of refugees, the UN needs to consider the current demographic of Greenland. With a population that is 90% Inuit and Christian, it would be shocking to introduce a primarily Arab and Muslim group into the nation. There would also be a large linguistic gap. Neither Greenlandic nor Danish are related to Arab (the primary language of the refugee population). There is also a lack of Arab resources including translators and education to help the incoming population. To protect our current population and ensure that the incoming population would have the necessary resources, we have to limit the number of refugees that we can take.

When looking at the young age of the refugees, it would be a compliment to the current average age of Greenland citizens. The average age of Greenland citizens is 34 years old with a large portion of the population being in their 50s. Being that Greenland's main industries are fishing and mining, younger workers will support the economy and job market. The new refugees can replace many of the older workers who will be unable to perform their duties as age inhibits their physical strength. Since these two industries do not require as much education, mostly on the job training, the Syrian refugees would be able to take jobs in Greenland.

Greenland would be a strong choice for the refugees because it has a lower population, so there would not be issues with over-crowding. The job market is also friendly for those that have not had as much education or have not finished their education. Greenland has a fairly low unemployment rate at only 4%, so there are available jobs in the economy to support the families from Syria. The economy's strength is also demonstrated that the average income and Human Development Index are both ranked in the top 70 countries in the world ( There is wealth and economic stability to be shared with the incoming refugees.

The reasons that Greenland is not the best option for settling refugees is more related to the geographic and cultural makeup of the country. Greenland is a very cold and mountainous area. That makes new construction and transportation very difficult for even those whom have lived there for generations. A new population would need to be settled in a relatively small area to ensure the government could provide language and cultural resources, so that would require new housing and schooling for the incoming group. If Greenland were to take in the 5,000 that we propose, we would have almost a 10% increase in population in a country where transportation of goods and resources is already limited. This would put a strain on our food, shelter, and educational resources that would need support from the UN and surrounding countries. The incoming refugees would also struggle with the drastic change in climate. The temperatures in Syria are much warmer than Greenland. Greenland has a permanent ice sheet that keep the temperatures much lower. Each refugee would have to be equipped with the clothing and materials necessary to live, work, and travel in our very different climate.

The cultural issues that could arise from Greenland settling Syrian refugees would be that these refugees would be introducing and entirely new culture and religion to the country. We would have no current religion resources, there would be little ability to support the cultural traditions of Syria, and the refugees would be dealing with a language barrier in the public, in education, and in their personal lives. All of these would need time to be able to acclimate the refugees to our Inuit population, while also allowing our native population to adjust to the influx of Arab refugees.

It is because of the climate, religions, languages, and strained resources that Greenland proposed to only allow 5,000 Syrian refugees to settle in our country.