Towns and Settlements

According to Asiaqs’ register of localities there are 92 active localities in Greenland by February 18th 2011. A locality can be a town(17), a settlement (62), farm(4), station(6)…


Until the municipal amalgamation January 1st  2009, there was only one city in each municipality, in which municipal administration was found. Following the merger of municipalities we call the old municipalities for districts. A municipality consists of several towns and settlements.


Through the 1960s the population grew rapidly in the towns. The towns absorbed both population growth and the exodus from the settlements. This trend continued over the last 30 years as the population in towns continues to rise while it declines in the settlements. Figure 4.1 shows total population in the towns 1979-2013. The towns in Nuuk, Qaanaaq and Tasiilaq have almost doubled their population during the period, while the population in Paamiut and Qasigiannguit has been reduced by 25 percent.


Figure 4.1. Population trends in towns 1977-2013

Source: Statistics Greenland,


Only the  settlements in Upernavik and Ilulissat has experienced an increasing population. A number of settlements have been abandoned – partly or totally.


Figure 4.2. Population trends in settlements 1977-2013

Source: Statistics Greenland,