50 Fascinating Facts about Greenland

Although Greenland is Geographically part of the American continental shelf, it has, for the past millennium. been integrated into Europe, being controlled first by Norway and then by Denmark. It even joined the EU in 1973 when the country was part of Denmark, but it subsequently left. Its original inhabitants are Inuit Eskimos who came over to Greenland from Canada. It is interesting to see on a map just how it is situated in the world.

Greenland Facts

Although most of the country is covered in ice, it is in many places (particularly in the South), as the name implies, a very green land where agriculture flourishes.
Greenland is the largest island in the world, not counting Australia and Antarctica which are continents.
With a population of less than 60,000 people, Greenland is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.
Greenland has an ice-sheet so large, that if it were all to melt, the world’s sea level would rise by 7 meters.
In most of the country the temperature only goes above zero in July.
There are no roads connecting Greenland’s cities. There are too many Fjords in between.
There are less than 3000 cars in the whole country. Most transport is by boat.
The Arctic Umiac Line connects most of the cities and settlements along the Western coast.
A full round trip takes 80 hours in each direction.
Greenland’s earliest known inhabitants date back to about 2500 BC, according to archaeological finds of Eskimo settlements at Disco bay on the south western coast.
Towards the end of the first Millennium, Norwegians and Icelanders came to settle in Greenland.
The Norwegians were led there in 986 by a Viking called Eric the Red, who had been banished from his homeland for three years for having killed someone in a dispute.
Leif Erikson, one of the early Norse settlers, sailed from Greenland to discover North America, 5 centuries before Columbus discovered South America.
Greenland became part of the Norwegian Empire in the 13th century. Between 1380 and 1397, this joined with Denmark as part of the Kalmar Union.
The Norwegian settlements gradually disappeared, possibly because of worsening weather conditions.
Scientists who have studied the ice core, believe that Greenland’s temperature patterns have changed many times during the past 100,000 years.
Pirates are another possible reason for the dying out of the Norse settlements. Pirates came from as far as the Basque country.
The church of Hvalsey is one of the best-preserved remains of Norse life in Greenland.
With the departure of the Norwegians, the Inuit were left pretty much in control.
In the eighteenth century, Denmark, remembering the old association with Norway, claimed ownership of the island.
In 1946 The USA offered to purchase Greenland for $100,000,000, but Denmark refused to sell.
In 1950 the Danish Government gave permission for the large Thule air base to be built.
This airbase was expanded between 1951 and 1954 and the entire population of three nearby villages, were forced to move 100 kilometres away.
Unbeknown to the Danish Government, the Americans tried to build a secret underground nuclear launch site in this base, but decided in 1966 that the scheme was not a practical one.
In 1968 a nuclear-equipped B-52 bomber crashed near Thule.
On the 21st June 2009, Greenland became independent of Denmark, except for matters of defence, and it continued to receive a grant of 3.2 billion Danish Kroner in economic aid.
Greenlandic was declared the official language of the country. Greenlandic stems from the old Inuit language.
Danish is widely spoken in Greenland as a second language, and some people (mainly administrators who came over from Denmark), only speak Danish.
About 225 different species of fish swim around Greenland.
Greenland hosts large colonies of unusual birds such as skuas, puffins, kittiwakes, auks and pink-footed geese, not to mention ptarmigans, short-eared owls and gyrfalcon.
Many different types of whale congregate round Greenland. They include the Beluga whale, the humpback whale, the minke whale and the narwhal.
Land mammals include reindeer, arctic foxes, arctic hares, collared lemmings and ermine.
Nuuk is the capital of Greenland.
In summer the sun never sets.
In winter, you can see the fantastic effects of the Northern lights – Aurora Borealis.
Fish make up 90% of Greenland’s exports.
There are large Ruby deposits under Greenland’s soil and it is hoped that these will pay a significant role in the balance of payments.
Greenland has abundant mineral deposits including Tungsten, Titanium, Uranium, Nickel and Aluminium.
Greenland’s religion today is mainly protestant Christian.
Traditional Inuit religion was centred round appeasing a vengeful Sea Goddess who had no fingers. On her appeasement depended successful fishing and hunting. There are several variations of the mythology surrounding her.
Greenland has huge resources of potential renewable energy, in the form of hydro power.
The Greenlandic diet is based mainly on fish and sea mammals such as whales. Also, on hunted birds.
Suaasat is Greenland’s national dish. It is a soup made out of seal, reindeer, whale or seabirds with potatoes and onion plus seasoning added. It can be thickened with rice or soaked barley.
Capelin, a Salmon-like fish is often dried. This is very popular.
Reindeer liver is eaten raw, straight after the animal has been killed.
Coffee in Greenland typically includes whiskey, Grand Marnier, Kahlua and whipped cream and is lit before drinking.
Home brewing is a popular activity in Greenland.
The country has a high incidence of HIV/Aids.
Greenland, according to a 2010 census, has the highest suicide rate in the world.
Greenland is home to the world’s largest National Park, covering over 375,000 square miles. It is called Kalaallit Nunaanni nuna eqqissisimatitaq.

Greenland has a certain mystery about it – its remote location, small population and seemingly insular political and economic system make it largely inaccessible to all but the most curious tourists, with the majority of travellers venturing into the great white north opting for Greenland's much smaller, but more tourist-friendly, neighbor Iceland. Greenland is the largest island in the world. Vast ice-sheets cover most of the land, and the population of around 60,000 is mainly confined to the southern tip. Greenland also occupies a curious geographic position, located in North America, between the Artic and Atlantic oceans, yet functioning as an autonomous constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark. The only way into, or out of, Greenland is by plane or boat, and there are limited options for both. It takes a pretty determined traveller to make it, but once there, you'll find that Greenland is a fascinating place in its own right.


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