2022-08 Greenland



Kangerlussaq, Sisimiut, Disko Bay, Disko Island, Ilulissat

Central West Greenland


Greenland is one of the largest countries on earth, although very little is known about it in the rest of the world. Many people have completely false ideas about this beautiful Arctic country. Greenland has much more to offer than just glaciers and ice, since besides an awe-inspiring landscape it also has a multi-layered culture and history. Today, 88% of Greenland’s population is Inuit or of mixed origin and the remaining 12% are of European descent, primarily Danish. However the Inuit Greenlanders identify very strongly with the Inuit in other parts of the world, such as Canada and Alaska, and even their languages have some similarities.

Although it is geographically part of the North American continent, Greenland is an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark and has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for about a millennium. From 1814 Greenland was a Danish colony, but in 1953 it was integrated into the Danish Kingdom and in 1979 given extensive autonomy.

In terms of area Greenland is the largest island in the world, that is not regarded as continent of its own. The total area is 2.16 million square kilometers including other islands off the coast. Almost 80 percent of the country is covered by the ice cap. The ice-free area may be small compared to the total area, but it is still about the size of Sweden. With a population of 56,480 (2017 estimate), Greenland is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

Greenland is also the northernmost country on earth and lies mostly above the Artic Circle. Nevertheless, the ice-free coastal areas form a unique and adventurous travel region. The coastline is very convoluted with lots of fjords and islands, including the large once volcanic Disko Island. The chain of picturesque small towns and villages along the West coast with their colourful houses can only be reached by boat. Larger towns have small airports, but there are no roads between them and the villages. North of the Arctic Circle large icebergs are the main attraction being quite incredible and frequently seen gradually making their way South with the current. In between them it is not uncommon to observe groups of whales, mostly humpbacks. On land one can sometimes with luck see reindeer, musk oxen or arctic fox. In summer polar bears and their prey, seals, are only present in the far North where there is still sea ice. Walking on the inland ice cap is a popular excursion and it is even possible to spend a night in a tent out on the ice.

Fishing is an important industry in Greenland. The country imports almost everything except fish, seafood and other animals hunted in Greenland, such as whales and seals. Each administrative unit is assigned a specific catch quota in order to avoid overfishing. Certain species such as the blue whale are protected and may not be hunted at all. The whale and seal meat may not be exported – it is only consumed within the country.

Since Greenland is mostly covered by ice, snow and glaciers, white is the predominant colour of the Arctic nation. But where then does the name “Greenland” (Old Norse for “grassland”) come from? The country was originally named by Erik the Red, an Icelandic convict who was exiled to the Greenland. Hoping that the name would attract settlers, he called it “grassland.” According to scientific research, Greenland was actually largely green over 2.5 million years ago. A recent study shows that at a depth of about 3 kilometers under the ice, ancient frozen earth has existed for millions of years.


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