Greenland Island is the largest on Earth, located in the north-east direction from North America, washed by three large bodies of water: the Arctic Ocean in the north, the Labrador Sea on the south side and the Baffin Sea on the west side. Today, the island territory belongs to Denmark. Translated from the local dialect, the name Greenland – Kalallit Nunaat – means “Green Country”. Despite the fact that today the island is almost completely covered with ice, in the distant 982 this part of the land was completely covered with vegetation. Today, for many, Greenland is associated with eternal ice, but this is not entirely true. Let’s see what attracts tourists from all over the world to this mysterious island – the home of Santa Claus.
Photo: Greenland Island.
The first to descend on the island was the Icelandic Viking Eirik Rauda, also known as Eric the Red. It was he who, seeing the rich vegetation on the coast, called Greenland the Green Country. Only in the 15th century the island was covered with glaciers and acquired the usual appearance for us. Since then, Greenland has been the largest iceberg producer in the world.
Interesting fact! It was the iceberg from Greenland that caused the collapse of the Titanic.
Greenland is a rare place that has remained intact as much as possible, and human intervention is minimal. There are excellent conditions for extreme sports, ecotourism, popular today. Nature lovers can admire amazing landscapes, plunge into the original culture of the peoples inhabiting the island, who still live according to ancient traditions. The length of Greenland from the north to the south is almost 2.7 thousand km, the maximum width is approximately 1.3 thousand km, and the area is 2.2 thousand square kilometers, which is 50 times the area of Denmark.
Greenland is separated from Ellesmere Island in Canada by a 19 km wide strait. Along the southeastern coast, the Danish Strait flows, which separates the island from Iceland. To Svalbard 440 km, the Greenland Sea is located between the polar archipelago and Greenland. The western part of the island is washed by the Baffin Sea and the Davis Strait, they separate Greenland from the Baffin land.
The capital of the autonomous region of the country is the city of Nuuk with a population of just over 15 thousand people. The total population of Greenland is about 58 thousand people. Exotic highlight of the island – winter landscapes that resemble illustrations for a fairy tale. Greenland attractions and tourist activities are linked to snow and cold. Of course, there are museums where unique collections are presented that tell about the history, culture and traditions of the island.
History in dates:
- the first Viking settlements appeared in the 10th century;
- in the 18th century, the colonization of Greenland by Denmark began;
- in 1953, Greenland joined Denmark;
- in 1973, the country’s autonomy became part of the European Economic Union;
- in 1985 Greenland withdrew from the Union, the reason – disputes over quotas for fishing;
- In 1979, Greenland received self-government.
Many mistakenly believe that the only attraction of Greenland is a snow-white deserted area covered with snow. However, the country is rich in attractions, many of which can only be seen in this part of the planet. First of all, it is the fjords, glaciers. Locals say there are no two identical icebergs. Every year, new icebergs appear here.
Interesting fact! The color of the iceberg is always different and depends on the time of day.
The following fact may seem paradoxical, but another attraction is the thermal springs. In some places, the water temperature reaches +380 degrees, and the landscape is complemented by icebergs floating near the horizon. Greenland residents call thermal springs with crystal clear water a medieval SPA, because the first “baths” appeared here more than a thousand years ago. They are located in the southern part of the island.
The cities of Greenland have a special flavor – they are painted in bright colors, which is why they are called multi-colored. The most interesting:
- Nuuk (Gothob) – the main city of the country’s autonomous region;
- Ilulissat is an exotic attraction;
- Uummannak – here is the residence of Santa Claus.
Despite the fact that Nuuk is the smallest capital, by its originality, color, and sights, it is in no way inferior to the popular tourist capitals of the planet. The city is located on a peninsula, not far from Mount Sermitsiak.
Sight of Nuuk:
- old quarters;
- the temple of Savur Church;
- house of Egede;
- Arctic garden;
- meat market.
Of course, this is not a complete list of attractions. Of no less interest are: The Art Museum, the only cultural center.
Having plenty of walks, be sure to visit the National Museum of the country, the exposition of which covers the life of people on the island with a length of 4.5 thousand years.
The main attraction is natural beauty. For the comfort of tourists, observation platforms are equipped in the city. The most popular is Vale Watching Spot. People come here to admire the marine inhabitants. There is a yacht parking in the bay.
Read more about the capital of Greenland in a separate article.
The maximum concentration of icebergs off the west coast of the island. Pieces break off from the Sermek Kuyalek glacier and crawl into the Ilulissat fjord at a speed of 35 m per day. Even 10 years ago, the speed of ice did not exceed 20 m per day, but because of global warming, ice moves faster.
Interesting fact! The flow of ice is considered the fastest in the world.
The length of the fjord is slightly more than 40 km, here you can see icebergs of various shapes and sizes, listen to the deafening crackle of ice. One of the main areas of tourism in Greenland is the observation of icebergs in Ilulissat. Eyewitnesses say that it is here that the largest ice giants are located. The height of some reaches 30 meters, despite the fact that 80% of the iceberg is hidden under water.
On the banks of the fjord is a colorful landmark – a small fishing village with the same name Ilulissat and a population of no more than 5 thousand people. While the icebergs drift slowly, tourists can enjoy strong coffee, hot chocolate in a small cafe, watching the magnificent extravaganza from the window.
Excursion groups in boats or helicopters are sent to an iceberg to explore the ice caves, listen to the terrifying sounds of moving ice, and look at the seals as closely as possible.
Good to know! The collection of the local museum is dedicated to Knut Rasmussen, a rich collection tells about how people live in Greenland, culture, traditions, folklore.
Due to the richness and variety of impressions, sights, Ilulissat attracts fans of extreme sports, lovers of ethnic exoticism. In terms of comfort, the city is suitable even for families.
Good to know! The best time to travel to Ilulissat is summer and September.
Entertainment in Ilulissat:
- excursion to the Inuit village, where you can try the soup of sea delicacies, spend the night in a real hut, get acquainted with sled dogs;
- Excursion to the Eki Glacier;
- night boat trip to Ice Fjord;
- dog sledding;
- whale safari and sea fishing.
Advice to tourists! In Ilulissat, be sure to buy a figurine made of bone or stone, in souvenir shops there is a large selection of bead products. A luxury gift will be a product made of fur of a cat or seal skin. The fish market has a large selection of fresh fish and seafood.
The Eki Glacier is located, 70 km from the Ilulissat Fjord, in Disco Bay. This glacier is considered the fastest in Greenland. The length of its front edge is 5 km, and the maximum height reaches 100 m. It is here that you can see the process of the birth of the iceberg – huge pieces of ice with a terrible crack and crash break off from Eka and fall into the water. Walking on a speedboat causes both admiration and fear. Locals claim that the tour evokes special emotions when the boat moves in the fog. If you’re lucky, you can see whales.
Almost all excursions to the glacier involve a trip to the small settlement of Ataa. Here guests are treated to lunch and offered a stroll through the village. Then transport takes the group to Ilulissat, from where the excursion began.
Aurora Borealis is the most beautiful decoration of Greenland, here is the best place on the planet to observe this unique phenomenon. On the island, radiance is most pronounced from the second half of September until mid-April. What is necessary in order to see the northern lights? Warm clothes, comfortable shoes, a thermos with tea or coffee and a little patience. It does not matter which part of the island you are in – the northern lights can be seen everywhere, anywhere in Greenland, even in the capital.
There is another way to see a natural phenomenon – romantic. On a special vessel, go for a walk in the conservation area. You can watch the northern lights from the deck of the ship or by landing on the shore.
The advantage of such a trip is the ability to see animals in natural conditions. Protected areas – this is the home of polar bears, where they feel completely at ease.
Colorful flashes in the snow-white, lifeless desert create the atmosphere of a fairy tale. If you are a romantic, impressionable person, such an excursion will cause you a lot of positive emotions.
Given the difficult climate of Greenland, only the strongest animals survive here. The owners of the island are polar bears; here you can also see polar hares, lemmings, arctic foxes and polar wolves. The waters are inhabited by whales, seals, narwhals, walruses, seals and sea hares.
Whale safari is a favorite type of vacation for extreme tourists and an amazing sight of the country. For trips, organized tourist boats. You can go as part of an excursion group, as well as rent a boat. Animals do not respond to people, so they allow you to swim at close range. They play and swim very close to the ships.
The best places for the Greenland safari: settlements Ausiait, Nuuk, Kekertarssuak.
Greenland is on the list of few places where the catch of marine inhabitants is possible, so tourists can admire these amazing animals and try whale meat dishes.
If you are a fan of extreme sports, go diving. You have a unique opportunity to swim under an iceberg, visit an underwater rock, and see seals.
The people of the island live in complete unity with nature. Hunting is not just fishing, but a whole ritual. The Eskimos believe that life is nothing more than a shadow, and with the help of rituals people remain in the world of the living.
The main value for people is animals, because they sacrifice their lives to provide food for the local population. There are legends in Greenland that tell us that many years ago, people understood the language of animals.
Eskimos still practice shamanism, the locals believe in life after death and that all animals and even objects have a soul. The art here is associated with manual creativity – hand-made figures are made of animal bones and skin.
People in Greenland do not show emotions, most likely, the harsh climate of the island affects. However, this does not mean that guests are not welcome here, but if you want to make a favorable impression, exercise restraint and speak only seriously. As the locals say, when you speak lightly, words lose their meaning and meaning.
Good to know! In Greenland, it’s not customary to say hello to the people, when they say hello, they give a sign of greeting.
Cultural traditions are determined by a difficult climate. People on the island have created a specific code of conduct, where everything is subject to the possibility of survival, the protection of animals and the environment. Life here is measured and unhurried.
It may seem that the people on the island are rude and unfriendly, but this is not so, just the locals are silent and do not conduct idle conversations. They express their thoughts clearly and concisely.
For a typical European, the cuisine of Greenland is practically unsuitable. The main principle of food on the island is the use of food in the form in which nature gives it. There is practically no heat treatment. Over the centuries, the nutrition system has been formed in such a way as to provide people with the necessary useful substances and the strength to survive in such a climate.
Good to know! At first glance, it may seem that the national cuisine of Greenland is primitive, but it is not at all. According to statistics, people in Greenland do not suffer from scurvy, and they do not have vitamin deficiency. Also, there are practically no diagnoses such as peptic ulcer and atherosclerosis, an extremely low percentage of infectious pathologies.
Main dishes are prepared from walrus, whale and seal meat. In Greenland, exotic methods of processing meat are used, after cutting the carcasses it is sorted, some ingredients are mixed, and the optimal cooking method is selected. The meat is kept in the ground, in specially prepared brines, water.
A popular delicacy and an exotic culinary delicacy – mattak – reindeer meat and whale code with fat. A daily dish – stroganina – is prepared from the meat of marine animals, fish and poultry, served with grass, wild leek, and polar berries. Another popular dish – soasat – is scalded with boiling water and served with a side dish of potatoes or rice.
Of plant foods, algae, tree sap, turnips, certain types of moss, potatoes and rhubarb are held in high esteem. They eat fish and seafood in any form, they are salted, dried, fermented, frozen and eaten raw. All seafood, which for Europeans are considered delicacies, in Greenland are presented in a wide assortment and for every taste.
Of the drinks on the island, they drink milk tea and traditional black tea. Another exotic culinary tradition is to add salt, spices, fat to tea with milk and drink as a first course. They also use deer milk and original Greenland coffee.
Climate and weather
Throughout the year, the island has a negative temperature:
- in summer – from -10 to -15 degrees;
- in winter – up to -50 degrees.
Greenland recorded the lowest average annual temperature among all countries at -32 degrees.
Most precipitation falls in the south and east of the island – up to 1000 mm, in the north the amount of precipitation decreases to 100 mm. The whole territory is characterized by strong winds and blizzards. In the east, a third of the days of the year it snows, the closer to the north, the less snowfall. Fogs are characteristic of summer. The warmest climate in the southwest, this is due to the warm current – West Greenland. In January, the temperature does not fall below -4 degrees, and in July, the temperature rises to +11 degrees. In the south, in some places protected from the wind, in the summer the thermometer rises closer to +20 degrees. In the east, the climate is more severe, but the coldest climate in the north, here in winter the temperature drops to -52 degrees.
Where to stay
All hotels in Greenland are necessarily classified by the national tourist office. This classification is equivalent to the categories of hotels in Europe. The highest category of hotels is 4 stars. You can find such hotels in Ilulissat, Nuuk and Sisimiut. There are hotels of a lower category in all settlements, except Kangatsiak, Itokortormit and Upernavik.
In the largest cities there are family hostels where tourists are invited to eat and taste the traditional dishes of the national cuisine of Greenland. In the southern part of the island, travelers often stop at sheep farms.
Good to know! On farms, electricity is generated using diesel generators, so it is supplied at certain hours.
The average price of a double room in a 4-star hotel is from 300 to 500 dollars. In hotels of a lower category – from 150 to 300 dollars.
Visa, how to get there
To travel to the island you will need to apply for a visa at a special visa center. Also need insurance.
The easiest and fastest way to get to Greenland from Denmark is by plane. Flights depart from Copenhagen, arrive in:
- Kangerlussuaq – all year round;
- Narsarkuac – only in the summer.
The flight lasts about 4.5 hours.
In addition, aircraft from Iceland follow to this part of the country. Flights are carried out between the capital’s airport in Iceland and the airport in Nuuk. There are also flights from Reykjavik. Flights to Ilulissat and Nuuk are planned. The flight lasts 3 hours.
Useful! Cruise ships regularly enter Greenland following the route that includes Iceland and Greenland.
Interesting facts about Greenland
- Many are interested in the question – which country Greenland belongs to? For a long time the island was a colony of Denmark, only in 1979 it received the status of a self-governing territory, but as part of Denmark.
- More than 80% of the island is covered in ice.
- According to residents – do you want to feel real cold? Visit the city of Upernavik. The most northern ferry crossing on the planet is built here.
- The best place to observe the northern lights is the city of Kangerlussuaq.
- In Greenland there is a belief – babies conceived on the night when the sky was aurora borealis grow especially intelligent.
- All hotels include breakfast.
- Greenland has a very difficult relationship with the Greenpeace organization. Representatives of the organization are doing their best to ban hunting on the island. Greenpeace’s activity negatively affects the economy of Greenland. As a result of many years of struggle, representatives of the organization recognized that Inuit have the right to hunt, but only for personal purposes.
Now you know exactly the answer to the question – do people live in Greenland. Not only people live here, but there are many fascinating sights. The island of Greenland is an amazing place, a visit to which will leave unforgettable emotions in your memory.
Video: how they live in the capital of Greenland, the city of Nuuk.