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Amazing Facts About Greenland

By Antonia Čirjak January 28 2020

Ilulissat, Greenland.
Ilulissat, Greenland.
  • Greenland Is The Land Of Natural Beauty
  • Midnight Sun, Endless Night, And Northern Lights
  • There Are No Roads On The Island

Greenland, the world’s largest island, deserves all the curiosity and admiration it gets. Here we are sharing some staples and a few unexpected facts about this wondrous place.

7. First, Some Quick Facts About Greenland As A Country

Memorial to the relocated Inuits of the High Arctic, near hamlet of Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada, 2017
Memorial to the relocated Inuits of the High Arctic, near hamlet of Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada, 2017
  • Greenland is an island and not a continent! Even though its territory is as large as Western Europe.
  • The closest it gets to the continent is Canada’s east coast. There is an underwater ridge connecting Greenland to the continent.
  • The Arctic Circle crosses the island, so, technically, part of Greenland is to the south of it, and part - to the North. 
  • 90% of Greenland citizens are Inuit. In English, the proper term is Greenlanders. As of now, there are just under 60 000 inhabitants.
  • The official language is Greenlandic (Kalaallisut), but they also speak English and Danish.
  • On paper, the country is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. But Greenland is autonomous in its decision making and has its government. Their currency is the Danish krone.
  • An enormous ice-sheet covers eighty percent of Greenland. The ice-free area is still the size of Sweden.

6. Iceland’s Ice Sheet Is Magnificent

Iceland’s Ice sheet holds about 7% of the freshwater on Earth. Some day (we hope it never comes), it can be a resource more precious than gold. In some places, the ice sheet is more than 2 miles thick. 

5. Why Does Icy Greenland Have “Green,” And Green Iceland “Ice” In Its Name?

A village on the coast of Greenland
A village on the coast of Greenland

Opinions wary. Some believe that when it was initially discovered, the settlers landed on the greener part; some think that it was a marketing trick to make the newly found land more tempting to move to.

About 20% of the country is actually green, so the country has the means to live up to its name. Summer temperatures can rise to 68°F. This part of Greenland is actually in a lower latitude than Iceland, but Iceland is kept warmer by the Gulf Stream.

4. No Eskimos, Please!

Inuit woman wearing traditional clothing
Inuit woman wearing traditional clothing

They would prefer you to avoid the word “Eskimos.” In English, Greenlander is fine, but in the native language, the term is Kalaallit. Also, the population is not of “Viking” descendants: there was an attempt to settle in Greenland, but it did not last long.

3. There Are No Roads On The Island

Dog sled
Dog sled

If you have only seen Greenland in movies, you might think there were actual roads across the country. There are none! Some roads, of course, exist within the towns, but with the intercity roads being covered in new snow for the majority of the year, it would be a silly investment. Instead, there is a variety of transportation means suitable for a unique environment. For short distances, there are snowmobiles and sleds (yes, actual sleds, with dogs!). For longer trips - there are boats and air traffic; boats are by far the most popular mode of transportation, but planes and helicopters are still very common. 

2. Midnight Sun, Endless Night, And Northern Lights

Northern lights in Greenland
Northern lights in Greenland

We probably do not need to sell you on Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Whoever once saw this natural event, would never be impressed by fireworks again.

Another impressive occurrence is the Midnight Sun: Greenland is so far North that on its Summer Solstice, the summer never sets below the horizon. The Winter Solstice, on the other hand, is 24 hours-long night. The stars are more shiny and crispy in the cold air, so there is beauty in it, too.

1. Greenland Is The Land Of Natural Beauty

With scarce population and little pollution, Greenland is an oasis of natural beauty, and, as it comes with many Northern locations, it is pretty grandiose. Countless small islands where you can spend a day alone with just birds and marine creatures, stunning fjords, and cliffs of the rugged coasts. No wonder the word kayak came from here: so many of the stunning views can be observed and reached from the water.

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