Housing and pattern of settlement


On 1 January 2010, there were 6,072 homes in Qaasuitsup Municipality. The Government of Greenland owns approximately a quarter of the homes.

  • 71 per cent of the homes are located in the towns, the average household size in 2010 being 2.3 to 2.7 persons per home. The average for Greenland is 2.4.
  • 29 per cent of the homes are located in the settlements, the average household size being 1.1 to 3.4 persons per home (2010). The average for Greenland is 2.3.

The size of the households has decreased in recent years, especially in the settlements, but the figures show a wide span in the household sizes among the 40 towns and settlements.
The homes mostly consist of single-family houses and apartment buildings – 88.5 per cent in total. A little more than seven per cent of the homes are student facilities and four per cent are retirement homes.
In Qaasuitsup Municipality, the housing standard varies a lot across locations. The supply standard is particularly low in the settlements and, in many places, buildings suffer from lack of exterior maintenance.

Pattern of settlement

Being the largest municipality in the world, Qaasuitsup Municipality is characterised by many towns and settlements – a total of eight towns and 32 settlements. Actually, more than half of the towns and settlements in Greenland are situated in Qaasuitsup Municipality. An increasing part of the population in the municipality lives in one of its eight towns. On 1 January 2013, 76 per cent lived in a town, the average of Greenland being 85 per cent. The deviation is probably related to the large number of settlements.

The trend during the past 35 years has been that several settlements change status to town (more than 500 inhabitants), while the remaining settlements (less than 500 inhabitants) become smaller and fewer. The developments during the past decades have also led to several previously significant towns, such as Qeqertarsuaq (the former administrative centre for Northern Greenland) and Qullissat (a closed mining town) losing their importance, while other towns now play a more prominent role. In recent years, national politics has focused on four growth towns in Greenland, one of these being Ilulissat. This has influenced the economic priority of activities in Ilulissat, e.g. regarding investment funding, providing positive growth potentials.

As previously mentioned, a number of towns and settlements have experienced a decline in their number of inhabitants, while others have seen no change or actual growth. The general tendency is that people move from the settlements to the towns – just like in the rest of the world. The tendency is not quite as significant in Qaasuitsup Municipality as elsewhere in Greenland. From 1977 to 2012, the town population in Qaasuitsup Municipality increased by four per cent (from 72 to 76 per cent). During the same period, Kujalleq Municipality saw an increase of 13 per cent.
In the municipality, the population is mainly concentrated around Ilulissat (28 per cent), Aasiaat (19 per cent) and Upernavik (16 per cent). In total, 63 per cent of the population lives in these three districts.

Migration trends

The number of relocations both to and from Qaasuitsup Municipality as well as internally is generally increasing. Most internal relocations take place within the same town, followed by relocations between the towns. Slightly more people migrate from the municipality than to it, leaving Qaasuitsup Municipality with a negative net result. In 2012, there was a migration deficit of 199 inhabitants .

Most people relocating away from the municipal districts leave for Nuuk. The exception is Kangaatsiaq, which most people leave for Sisimiut and Aasiaat. From Uummannaq and Qasigiannguit, most people move to Ilulissat or Nuuk. In Qaanaaq, people relocate to Upernavik and Nuuk. After Nuuk, most people move to the towns of Ilulissat, Aasiaat and Sisimiut. Seen over a ten-year period, most new arrivals in the municipality come from Nuuk or Sisimiut.

Most people moving out of the settlements go the nearest town, the second choice being primarily other settlements in the same district. People moving from a town to a settlement mostly head to settlements within the same district as they came from.

Qaasuitsup Kommunia · Postboks 1023 · 3952 Ilulissat · Grønland · www.qaasuitsup.gl · E-mail: plan@qaasuitsup.gl · Tlf.: +299 947800
Last edited 13-11-2014