Your comprehensive travel guide to Greenland - All in one place!
Greenland, which is known as the Scandinavian country is an autonomous nation situated in the Kingdom of Denmark. It is almost the last part of the world and 80% of the land area is covered with ice almost throughout the year and the population of the country lives along the rest of the 20% of its land area which is ice-free. This country is famous for its summer midnight sun. This island country is surrounded by icebergs and glaciers making the island one of the most beautiful parts of the world. So plan your next holiday destination to this amazing place.
History and Government
Greenland is thought to have been inhabited since prehistoric times by various Paleo-Eskimo groups; however, specific archaeological research shows the Inuit entering Greenland around 2500 BC, and it wasn't until 986 AD that European settlement and exploration started, with Norwegians and Icelanders settling on Greenland's west coast.
These first settlers were eventually known as the Norse Greenlanders, though it wasn't until the 13th century that Norway took them over, and subsequently entered into a union with Denmark.
In 1946, the United States offered to buy Greenland from Denmark but the country refused to sell the island. In 1953, Greenland officially became a part of the Kingdom of Denmark and in 1979 Denmark's Parliament gave the country powers of home rule. In 2008, a referendum for greater independence on Greenland's part was approved, and in 2009 Greenland took over the responsibility of its own government, laws, and natural resources. In addition, Greenland's citizens were recognized as a separate culture of people, even though Denmark still controls Greenland's defense and foreign affairs.
The Greenland coastline is rugged, mountainous, and for the most part, barren. The land then rises to a sloping icecap that covers 81 percent of the island.. Countless rocky islands ring the coastline central to south.
Some scientists have claimed that the Greenland ice sheet may actually conceal three large separate island landmasses that have been bridged by glaciers since the last ice age.
In 2002, as the ice in the far north began to melt, it left a small island exposed to daylight. Additional islands are expected to be discovered if that melting trend continues.
There are nearly 40 glaciers covering the Greenland landmass, and one of the largest is the Peterman. Recently a chunk of ice broke off the Peterman; an area of ice 100 square miles and 600ft thick.
Greenland has around 56,000 inhabitants. They mostly live in the 20 % of the country that is not covered by ice and snow.
The first humans to set foot on Greenland arrived some 4,000-5,000 years ago from the North American continent via Canada, after the sea froze in the narrow strait at Thule in Northern Greenland. No less than six different Inuit cultures have migrated in distinct waves.
Greenland’s current population is descended from the last migration, the Thule culture, who began arriving in the 1200s AD. At the same time, Norsemen led by the Norwegian Viking Erik the Red settled in Southern Greenland. The Norse population disappeared around 1500AD for reasons that have never been fully explained.
Because of the Arctic climate, the people of Greenland mostly live on the coast in settlements and cities. Historically, fishery and hunting have been the key to survival due to the short summers. Greenland's climate and geography make farming almost impossible, except for the extreme south of the country, where sheep farming is popular.
The culture of Greenland is based largely on Inuit traditions mixed with a healthy amount of Scandinavian and Norse culture. With the majority of the population of Inuit heritage, these are the dominant traditions which can be manifested in art, among other things. Hunting is viewed as a defining characteristic of Inuit culture with the practice hugely important in Greenlandic life.
Food and Drink
Greenland’s traditional cuisine is mainly based on meats from birds, fish, game and marine mammals. This food menu is greatly influenced by the Danish and Canadian international cuisines that have significant protein levels. When the weather is milder in summer, meals in Greenland are eaten outdoors. So, you can have an exciting “tasting’ adventure trip around Greenland’s richly diversified cuisine.
The most important Greenland holiday, National Day, just happens to fall on June 21, the longest and sunniest day of the year. However, the people of this vast country find reasons to celebrate even during the dead of weather. In fact, Greenland rings in the New Year twice– once at 8:00 p.m. when the clock strikes midnight on Denmark, and again when Greenland’s own clocks reach midnight. The area also hosts unique sporting events like the Arctic Palerfik dogsled excursion and the Greenland Adventure Race.
Best Time to Visit
Greenland has 3 travel seasons: spring, summer, and winter. Spring in Greenland offers lots of dog-sledding in March and April and the capital of Nuuk hosts the Snow Festival. Greenlandic summer (May - September) offers sailing and so travelers can enjoy boat trips to glaciers, settlements and historical sites.
Wintertime in Greenland is for adventurers. If you want to experience the real Arctic nature, then come to Greenland between November and February. At this time of year, better than at any other, you can see the spectacular northern lights and enjoy long dog-sledding tours and snowmobile excursions during the dark Polar Nights.