World Population Excluding Greenland?

According to a newly published paper called The population of the world (2011) we are now 6,987 million citizens on the planet Earth.

However something makes me wonder if they counted Greenland. It’s not that inclusion or exclusion of the 57,564 Greenlanders will rock the figure, but I think we should all be in there.

Greenland does cover a great deal of area on a world map as the big white island on top of the world, not at least when the projection makes areas close to the poles bigger than on a globe.

But is Greenland visible in the population statistics at all?

First I looked for Greenland in North America where Greenland belongs in a geophysical context.


Not there.

Then I looked for Greenland in Northern Europe where Greenland belongs in a political context.


Not there – or maybe there as part of (the Kingdom of) Denmark?

The population of Denmark is stated as 5.6 million citizens.

If I look up the Kingdom of Denmark on Wikipedia we have these numbers:

It’s a close call. If we round the numbers the 5.6 million citizens is without the North Atlantic dependencies and Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, isn’t anywhere else. And anyway the area clearly suggest that Greenland isn’t included as part of Denmark. So it could be a case of rounding or a case of timeliness – or most probably a case of incompleteness.

Maybe we have passed 7 billion people on earth already if someone else (also) is missing in the statistics.

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11 thoughts on “World Population Excluding Greenland?

  1. Prashanta C 18th August 2011 / 14:26

    Good observation there Henrick.

    I am always surprised by the way in which the population of a country is calculated.

    Despite of high quality of data and census boards decades of experience in counting and gathering information, it still seems to me like a “counting the stars” task. (How much accurate we can get with this data?)

    Turning to my own country, there are so many homeless and immigrants in India who probably are never included in the census. I still remember a government official visiting our house every year to take count of individuals. If the door is locked, he would never come again!! Did he not include us that year !!? Not sure!

  2. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 18th August 2011 / 14:38

    You are right Prashanta. The uncertainty with some of the large numbers is probably more significant than if some less populated spot on the earth is included or not.

    So it’s hard to tell if Earth is among the less populated planets in space (less than 7 billion people) or among the high populated planets (7 billion or more people):-)

  3. Marcelo V Silva 18th August 2011 / 21:45

    Henrik !

    Be careful with your analysis !!!

    You misguided us into thinking that we had already achieved the 7 billion number, when you thought we should sum 57,564 to 6,987 million !

    At first sight I thought we would have passed the 7 billion because 6,987 + 57 is more than 7 bi, but we are summing different amounts !

    It is 6,987 million + only 57 thousand, which doesn´t increase the total 6,897 million at all !

    I got confused !

    We still need 13 million people to arrive at 7 billion ! Maybe we already have this amount in India, as told above !

  4. Marcelo V Silva 18th August 2011 / 21:47

    But thanks anyway for the excellent link with the world population !

  5. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 19th August 2011 / 01:34

    Thanks Marcelo, I know. As said the 57 thousand doesn’t rock the figure. The final paragraph is there to indicate that if you have one miss, maybe you have more misses that all together will rock the world.

  6. Gilles Pison 19th August 2011 / 11:14

    I can reassure you. The population of Greenland is counted in the world total in my article “The population of the world (2011)”. It is part of North America Population. The population of other countries or territories also not shown in the main table are also counted. Every human is counted.

    As I wrote in the first phrase of my article ” The data shown in the central data sheet concern all geopolitical entities with a population of 150,000 or more, along with a few others”. And, as indicated in the first note page 5 : “Regional population totals … include small countries or areas not shown in the table”.

    If you are interested by more information on population matters and changes, I suggest you the following ressources that I put on the INED web site :

    – “World population and me”
    It provides you information on where you stand in the world population. You enter your age and you will find out:
    The world population in the year you were born
    How many people were born the same year as you
    How many are still alive, how many are dead
    How many are older than you, how many are younger than you

    – “Population atlas ” :
    It gives the latest United Nations population statistics for 230 countries and regions of the world (here again, unfortunately, Greenland is not in the list). You can use its different windows to travel from one country to another, to see how the situation changes over time, to rank countries or to compare them with each other.

    -“The population simulator”
    to see the future population trends of the whole world or of individual countries as forecast by the United Nations projections. You can also make your own simulations by adjusting fertility, life expectancy and the sex ratio at birth.

    – “The family game
    to invent your family, or a whole new family by playing with the factors that influence the number of children.

    – “Animations”
    on the following themes :
    – How many people will live on Earth in the future ?
    – Births and family size
    – Understanding length of life
    – How do we measure fertility ?
    – How do we measure life expectancy?
    – Population pyramid.

    – a series of “ Teaching kits”
    on the different themes, for example :
    – Human longevity
    – Progress in the fight against death and disease
    – Trends in life expectancy at birth
    – Infant mortality across the world
    – Contraception across the world
    – Waiting time to conception

    – and also all the past issues of “Population and Societies”

    Gilles Pison
    Author of “The population of the world (2011)”

  7. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 19th August 2011 / 11:46

    Thanks a lot Gilles for taking your time to sort it out. Too bad Greenland didn’t make it to be among the few others – it’s a big land.

  8. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 19th August 2011 / 12:29

    By the way: A second look on the area for North America do indicate that there is approximately 2 million square kilometers from the sum of USA and Canada up to the North American sum. So that’s Greenland. So I was also wrong in a previous blog post saying that when you write an address in North America you have the house number in front of the street name. There is 2 million square kilometers where it is the opposite (well, most of Greenland is covered with ice, but anyway).

  9. Marcelo V Silva 19th August 2011 / 17:03


    After the reply given by Gilles Pison, you should now rename this post… It includes Greenland ! Anyway, do you know why is it called Greenland ? Shouldn´t it be called Whiteland ??? The Amazon (in the country where I live, Brazil) should be called Greenland by the foreigners…

  10. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 19th August 2011 / 18:41

    Thanks for returning Marcelo.

    I do think it’s kind of bad style changing what was written, but I have appended a question mark on the head line to reflect the data discovery history of the blog post.

    Certainly, Brazil is the true green land on the planet Earth.

    At the time Greenland was named by the Vikings, a thousand years ago, the climate up north was warmer and southern Greenland had forests.

    Also the Vikings went on to the North American continent and named a part of today’s Canada for Wine-land, a name that doesn’t match the current conditions there.

  11. Marcelo V Silva 22nd August 2011 / 17:14


    Many thanks for the historical-geographical information regarding the name of Greenland… We keep on learning everyday !

    Regarding the post if I were you I would correct as much as I could the text, because not everybody reads all comments…

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