Fishing (shrimp, halibut, salmon, and cod) is the main industry, and dozens of processing plants have been constructed in the south and southwest. Some of the world's largest shrimp beds are in Disko Bay. In the north and east seals, foxes, and polar bears are hunted. Seabirds are hunted for their flesh, eggs, and down. Reindeer are herded and there is extensive sheep breeding in the southern area.
Gold, niobium, tantalite, uranium, iron, and diamonds are mined. Deposits of cryolite, zinc, and lead, which were important to Greenland's mining industry, have been largely worked out. Copper, coal, oil, and molybdenum deposits also exist but are difficult to extract. The country is gradually shifting its electricity production from fossil fuel to hydropower.
Greenland has gradually modernized its economy but still depends heavily on its fishing industry, and fish products are its largest export. The country must import most machinery and transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, and petroleum products. Tourism is being developed. Significant financial support from Denmark, however, remains essential. Greenland has benefited from greatly improved air transportation and telecommunications in recent years.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.