The largest island on the planet, Greenland is an autonomous territory of Denmark. East of the Canadian archipelago, this island is technically in North America, but has been long associated to Europe due to its strong link to the Nordics. The infamous viking Erik the Red first settled to Greenland with Norwegians and Icelanders, creating a mixture of Nordic and Inuit population. It was Erik who named the country as Greenland, in an attempt to lure more settlers (Iceland would have been a more suitable name). 80% of the country is covered under an ice sheet, with most of the major cities being on the ice-free west coast. Some 90% of the Greenlandic exports come from the fishing industry. Greenlandic is the official language, and Danish is a recognized language. In Greenlandic the name of the country is Kalaallit Nunaat, “Land of the Kalaallit” – an indigenous inuit population. The currency is the Danish Krone (DKK).
2 116 086 km²
Despite the name, Greenland is largely white; three-quarters of its surface area is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica. All towns and settlements on the island are situated along the ice-free coast, with the population being concentrated along the west coast. The landscape is brutal and untamed, inhabited primarily by the hardy Inuit. Polar bears and arctic foxes roam the icy wastes.
One of the few locations where the Greenlandic ice meets the sea, Ilullisat Icefjord is an area in the western end of Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. The glacier is the most productive and fastest moving glaciers in the northern hemisphere. Gigantic kilometer tall pieces of ice break away from the glacier into the fjord, creating a sight that will make your brain freeze. The icefjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Proud of their own history and heritage, do not under any circumstances call the Greenlanders Danish! Other than this frustrating confusion, Greenlanders are known to be very calm, down to earth and friendly, although not always the most talkative bunch.
Some 90% of Greenlanders are Greenlandic Inuits – the aboriginal people of the Greenland. They can be further divided into three groups of Kalaallit (west Greenland), Tunuumit (east Greenland) and Inughuit (north Greenland). Wide range of various rituals have been passed down from the Inuit ancestry, and are still widely practiced around Greenland today. The rituals involve thanking bears, whales and other hunted animals. Hunting continues to be an important part of the culture, as food can get scarce in this lonely island.
Greenlanders are people of tradition, enjoying drum and dance, beautiful handicrafts and cosy lifestyle. They are sure to welcome travellers and will happily let you enjoy their vast sights.