Town pattern and population trends

Town pattern

The municipal town pattern consists of eight towns and 32 settlements. The towns – Kangaatsiaq, Aasiaat, Qasigiannguit, Ilulissat, Qeqertarsuaq, Uummannaq, Upernavik and Qaanaaq – were main towns in the former eight municipalities. With approximately 4,600 inhabitants, Ilulissat is the largest town in the municipality and the third largest town in Greenland. Towns and settlements are mainly concentrated around Disko Island and Disko Bay south of the island, while the northern settlements are more sparsely located at Baffin Bay.

In the planning of the development of offshore-related industries, seven towns and settlements in Disko Bay and Baffin Bay have a central role to play in the future development of oil and gas deposits – either as main supply bases (Aasiaat and Upernavik) or as supplementary supply bases (Qasigiannguit, Qeqertarsuaq, Ilulissat, Qaarsut and Upernavik Kujalleq).

Ilulissat is one of the tourism centres in Greenland, partly because the town is situated next to the Ilulissat Icefiord with its characteristic icebergs outlining the Disko Bay landscape, and partly because of the town’s many sledge dogs that are used for guided tourist tours to the settlements and the inland ice. Tourism around the ice fiord is continuously developed under the supervision of the Ilulissat Ice Fiord Office. The goal is to establish a visitor centre in the old heliport area. Furthermore, Ilulissat has a large and efficient fishing industry primarily based on Greenland halibut and shrimps, as well as a number of service functions to support the many tourists visiting the region every year. The town has four nearby settlements: Saqqaq, Qeqertaq, Ilimanaq and Oqaatsut.

Situated at the south-western part of Disko Bay, Aasiaat has more than 3,100 inhabitants and is the second largest town in the municipality. While the main trades are fishing and the fishing industry, Aasiaat also has a growing tourism industry and plays an important role as an educational town. Aasiaat has the following nearby settlements: Akunnaaq, Ikamiut and Kitsissuarsuit.

Uummannaq, Upernavik and Qasigiannguit are medium-sized towns of around 1,200 inhabitants. Uummannaq is situated on an island north of the Nûgssuaq peninsula, while Qasigiannguit is situated in the south-eastern part of Disko Bay. Further north lies Upernavik, on the shores of Baffin Bay. All three towns' main trades are sealing and fishing, but tourism also plays a role. Upernavik has the settlements of Ikerasaarsuk, Innaarsuit, Kangersuatsiaq, Kullorsuaq, Nutaarmiut, Nuussuaq, Naajaat, Tasiusaq, Upernavik Kujalleq and Aappilattoq. Uummannaq has the settlements of Ikerasak, Illorsuit, Niaqornat, Nuugaatsiaq, Qaarsut, Saattut and Ukkusissat. No settlements belong to Qasigiannguit.

The smallest towns in the municipality are Qeqertarsuaq, Qaanaaq and Kangaatsiaq. Qeqertarsuaq is located on Disko Island and has approximately 850 inhabitants. Qaanaaq on the north coast of Inglefield Fiord has approximately 650 inhabitants, while Kangaatsiaq is located farthest to the south on the shores of the Davis Strait and has approximately 550 inhabitants. The towns are typical fishing, sealing and whaling communities, but they also benefit from tourism in the forms of kayaking and dogsledding, hill walking, sailing, cruising, guided visits to the settlements etc. Furthermore, Qaanaaq is the nearest town to the Thule Air Base.

Qeqertarsuaq has the settlement of Kangerluk, while Qaanaaq has three settlements (Savissivik, Siorapaluk and Qeqertat) and Kangaatsiaq has four (Attu, Iginniarfik, Ikerasaarsuk and Niaqornaarsuk).

Population trends

The largest population growth in the municipality is expected to happen in the largest towns, including Ilulissat and the other towns that are potential supply bases for the offshore and offshore-related industries. As to the settlements, a stabilisation or a small decline in population is expected as the tendency of migration from settlements to towns is expected to continue. At the same time, a small net relocation from Qaasuitsup Municipality to towns and areas outside of the municipality – mainly Nuuk and Sisimiut – is expected. See also the status description of the planning forecast.

The tendencies in the demographic trends are based on the overall expectations for Greenland as a whole, but they also reflect the expected results of the spatial planning including its concrete area allotments. However, it is difficult to be specific about the proportions and speed of the expected development, as this is closely connected to the global economy, the development in the raw material and the tourism industries, and also very much to any decisions by the Government of Greenland on possible investments in, e.g., airports and ports. But planning is to – and can – support the expected and potential possibilities for development. See the section on main structures for towns and settlements for a more detailed statement for local development trends in the towns and settlements during the planning period. The description is based on the individual towns’ and settlements' specific local strengths and potentials.

Qaasuitsup Kommunia · Postboks 1023 · 3952 Ilulissat · Grønland · www.qaasuitsup.gl · E-mail: plan@qaasuitsup.gl · Tlf.: +299 947800
Last edited 2-6-2014