Nuuk, Greenland: Site, Situation, and “The Law of the Primate City”

  • Anthony J. Dzik Shawnee State University


The Northern Review 48 (2018): 3–32

Jefferson’s “Law of the Primate City” states that a country’s principal (i.e., primary) city is always disproportionately large in population and exceptionally representative of national capacity and feeling. This article examines the extent to which Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, is in accord with the “law.” Site and situation factors are presented to illustrate how Nuuk came to be Greenland’s dominant population and economic centre. The degree to which the city represents national feeling was assessed through an interpretation of the cultural landscape, literature review, and interviews with current and former residents of Greenland. Clearly Nuuk is disproportionately large and possesses much of the country’s economic capacity; however, there is some reservation at the present time as to whether or not it truly is representative of national feeling. As Greenland continues to modernize and as Nuuk continues to attract more and more people from other parts of the island, the city eventually could become more representative of the country’s cultural identity.

Author Biography

Anthony J. Dzik, Shawnee State University

Professor of Geography

How to Cite
DZIK, Anthony J.. Nuuk, Greenland: Site, Situation, and “The Law of the Primate City”. Northern Review, [S.l.], n. 48, p. 3–32, oct. 2018. ISSN 1929-6657. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 30 nov. 2021. doi:
General Articles


primate city; Greenland; site; situation