General information


(Danish: Grønland; Kalaallisut: Kalaallit Nunaat, meaning "Land of the people") is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically associated with Europe, specifically Denmark-Norway, for about a millennium. In 1979, Denmark granted home rule to Greenland, with a relationship known in Danish as Rigsfællesskabet (The community of the Kingdom), and in 2008 Greenland voted to transfer more competencies to the local government. This became effective the following year, with the Danish royal government remaining in charge only of foreign affairs, security and financial policy, and providing a subsidy of DKK 3.4 billion ($633m), or approximately US$11,300 per Greenlander, annually. 
Greenland is, by area, the world's largest island that is not a continent. It is the least densely populated country in the world. The bedrock in the centre of Greenland has been pressed below sea level by the weight of the ice sheet. Thus, if the ice melted, much of central Greenland would be under water. The average annual temperatures of Nuuk, Greenland vary from -9 degrees Celsius (16 Fahrenheit) to 7 degrees Celsius (45 Fahrenheit). The Atlantic Ocean borders Greenland's southeast; the Greenland Sea is to the east; the Arctic Ocean is to the north; and Baffin Bay is to the west. The nearest countries are Iceland, east of Greenland in the Atlantic Ocean, and Canada, to the west across Baffin Bay. Greenland also contains the world's largest national park, and is the world's largest island and the largest dependent territory by area in the world. The total area of Greenland is 2,166,086 km2 (836,109 sq mi), of which the Greenland ice sheet covers 1,755,637 km2 (677,676 sq mi) (81%) and has a volume of approximately 2,850,000 cubic kilometres (680,000 cu mi). The highest point on Greenland is Gunnbjørn Fjeld at 3,700 metres (12,119 ft). However, the majority of Greenland is under 1,500 metres (5,000 ft) elevation. The weight of the massive Greenland ice sheet has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than 300 m (1,000 ft) below sea level. The ice flows generally to the coast from the center of the island. All towns and settlements of Greenland are situated along the ice-free coast, with the population being concentrated along the west coast. The northeastern part of Greenland is not part of any municipality, but is the site of the world's largest national park, Northeast Greenland National Park. The radio station Jørgen Brøndlund Fjord was, until 1950, the northernmost permanent outpost in the world. 
The extreme north of Greenland, Peary Land, is not covered by an ice sheet, because the air there is too dry to produce snow, which is essential in the production and maintenance of an ice sheet. If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt away completely, the world's sea level would rise by more than 7 m (23 ft) and Greenland would most likely become an archipelago. Between 1989 and 1993, U.S. and European climate researchers drilled into the summit of Greenland's ice sheet, obtaining a pair of 3 km (2 mi) long ice cores. Analysis of the layering and chemical composition of the cores has provided a revolutionary new record of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere going back about 100,000 years, and illustrated that the world's weather and temperature have often shifted rapidly from one seemingly stable state to another, with worldwide consequences. The glaciers of Greenland are also contributing to a rise in the global sea level at a faster rate than was previously believed. 

 

Population of Greenland

Greenland's population is about 57.000, of whom 47,000 live in towns with the remainder living in small settlements up and down the east and, in particular, the west coast. Approximately 15,000 inhabitants live in the growing arctic capital Nuuk. The second largest city is Sisimiut (5,400), followed by Ilulissat (4,500) and Qaqortoq (3,200). Greenlandic settlements are defined by having between 50 - 500 inhabitants. The ethnic Greenlanders are descendants of the Inuits (Eskimos), a people who now live on the Russian Chukota Peninsula and in Alaska, Canada and Greenland. The Eskimo first migrated to Greenland approximately 4-5,000 years ago and has been migrating to Greenland in separate "waves" of different Inuit cultures. The people living in Greenland today are descendents of the last migration (the Thule Culture), which took place around year 900 to 1000 AD. A migration of Norse settlers also took place around year 1000 AD and came from Iceland and Norway. It is the only race whose arrival in Greenland can be precisely dated, i.e. the year 982 AD, when Erik the Red set foot in South Greenland. The last that was heard of the Norse settlers, who were primarily farmers, was from reports of a wedding held in Hvalsey Church in 1408. There are still many signs of the existence of these two early cultures of Greenland. Ruins of the first Christian churches built on the North American continent can be found in South Greenland. The Greenlanders call themselves "Kalaallit" and are an indigenous Inuit people - Inuit meaning "human being". Inuit constitute 85 % of the population while the remaining is primarily of Danish descent. 
Today fishing is the all-dominating trade and accounts for 95 percent of total exports, but in the hunter districts of the outer areas, the seal and whale catch is of great importance. It actually forms the stable existence for one fifth of the Greenlandic population. For millennia the philosophy has been to live at one with nature. The hunters live with nature and follow the natural seasons. 
The symbols of the ancient culture are still alive even in the larger towns. Many people build and use their own kayak as you’ll see in every harbour. The old drum dance is performed by a growing number of artists. The musical and theatrical life is largely based on myths and sagas conveyed in a modern form.