Iceland vs. Greenland

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Difference between Iceland and Greenland

For many people Iceland and Greenland may as well be the same country for all their seeming similarities. Both are perceived to be countries characterized by vast expanses of uninhabited areas and frigid weather of course, but they actually have a number of significant differences. In fact, the two are almost as different as any two countries can be, as you will read below.

In Brief

Iceland is a volcanic island to the northwest of Great Britain that is characterized by cold temperatures, as you may have guessed from the name. The sovereign nation has a total population of more than 310,000 inhabitants, many of who are descended from Norwegians. The Vikings colonized the country over 1,000 years ago. Although Iceland is a member nation of NATO, it has no military forces. Greenland is the largest island in the world that is not categorized a continent. It is located to the northwest of Iceland and to the northeast of Canada. At the center of the island is an immense icecap that covers most of its land area. Greenland has a population of more than 57,000 people.

Geographical Features

Throughout much of Iceland can be found numerous geysers and hot rocks that are the sources of the country's geothermal energy. The presence of these features is due to the placement of the country on a mantle plume on the mid-Atlantic ridge. Greenland for its part does not have such a heat source since it is not a volcanically active island. It is actually a part of ancient continent Pangaea, which existed billions of years ago. Back then, Greenland was attached to the United Kingdom, and evidence of its connection can be seen in the rocks that they have in common.

Economy And Industry

Largely because of its geothermal and hydroelectric power, Iceland is one of the most productive countries in the world. Aside from this energy source however, Iceland doesn't really have much in the way of natural resources. The country's economy was traditionally heavily dependent on fishing. With the declining fish stocks and decreasing global market prices however, fishing is taking a back set to other industries. Greenland is also heavily reliant on fishing both for export and local sale. The largest fishing industry in the country is shrimp, and there are also various industries related to oil, gold and valuable metals and gems.



  • A volcanic island to the northwest of Great Britain
  • Is a part of Europe
  • A sovereign nation with a population of just slightly more than 310,000
  • Inhabitants are descended from the Norwegians
  • Colonized by Vikings just over 1,000 years ago
  • Is a member country of NATO and EFTA
  • Has no military forces


  • The world's largest island that is not considered a continent
  • Located to the northwest of Iceland and the northeast of Canada
  • Has a huge icecap that tales up most of its land area
  • Has a population of more than 57,000 people
  • Is a part of North America


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