Jul 21, 2011

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Greenland


Northern Lights: Nuuk, Greenland – Photograph by Rune Chritianse

 

 

After posting yesterday’s ‘Picture of the Day‘ of the Elephant Foot Glacier, I realized I knew very little about the gigantic island/country/landmass thingy way up in the Arctic between North America and Europe. How many people live there? What language do they speak? How green is the land?

After some sifting, here are 10 things you may not have known about Greenland with pictures (of course!) throughout. Enjoy!

 

 

ELEPHANT FOOT GLACIER

 


Photograph via The Guardian

 

Greenland 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 and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Denmark–Norway) for about a millennium. The largest island in Greenland is also named Greenland, and makes up most of the country’s land area..

 

 

NANORTALIK, GREENLAND

 


Photograph by JENS BUURGAARD NIELSEN

 

Greenland is, by area, the world’s largest island that is not a continent. With a population of 56,615 (January 2011 estimate) it is one of the least densely populated dependencies or countries in the world

 

 


Photograph by STIG NYGAARD

 

The first humans are thought to have arrived around 2500 BC. This group apparently died out and were succeeded by several other groups migrating from continental North America. To Europeans, Greenland was unknown until the 10th century, when Icelandic Vikings settled on the southwestern coast. This part of Greenland was apparently unpopulated at the time when the Vikings arrived; the direct ancestors of the modern Inuit Greenlanders are not thought to have arrived until around AD 1200 from the northwest.

 

 


Photograph via Travelglopep.com

 

Following World War II, the United States developed a geopolitical interest in Greenland, and in 1946 the United States offered to buy Greenland from Denmark for $100,000,000, but Denmark refused to sell. However, in 1950 Denmark did agree to allow the United States to establish the Thule Air Base, construction of which was begun in 1951 and completed in 1953, as part of a unified NATO Cold War defense strategy.

 

 

ERODED ICEBERGS IN ERIC’S FJORD

 


Photograph by YANN ARTHUS-BERTRAND

 

On 21 June 2009, Greenland assumed self-determination with responsibility for self-government of judicial affairs, policing, and natural resources. Also, Greenlanders were recognised as a separate people under international law. Denmark maintains control of foreign affairs and defence matters. Denmark upholds the annual block grant of 3.2 billion Danish kroner, but as Greenland begins to collect revenues of its natural resources the grant will gradually be diminished. It is a step toward full independence from Danish rule. Greenlandic became the sole official language of Greenland at the historic ceremony

 

 

FLAG OF GREENLAND

 

 

The total area of Greenland is 2,166,086 km2 (836,330 sq mi) (including other offshore minor islands), of which the Greenland ice sheet covers 81%, or 1,755,637 km2 (677,855 sq mi) and has a volume of approximately 2,850,000 km3 (680,000 cu mi). The highest point on Greenland is Gunnbjorn Fjeld at 3,700 m (12,139 ft). The majority of Greenland, however, is less than 1,500 m (4,921 ft) in elevation.

 

 

ICE CAP OF KANGERDLUARSSUK

 


Photograph by YANN ARTHUS-BERTRAND

 

Northeast Greenland National Park (Kalaallisut: Kalaallit Nunaanni nuna eqqissisimatitaq) is the largest national park in the world, with an area of 972,000 km2 (375,000 sq mi),[1] making the park larger than 163 countries. It is the only national park in Greenland, and the most northerly national park in the world, its most northerly point reaching slightly further than the most northerly point in Quttinirpaaq National Park in Canada. The park encompasses the entire northeastern coastline and interior sections of Greenland.

 

 

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL – UPERNAVIK, GREENLAND

 


Photograph by KIM HANSEN

 

Greenland has a population of 57,637 (July 2010 estimate), of whom 88% are Inuit (predominantly Kalaallit) or mixed Danish and Inuit. The remaining 12% are of European descent, mainly Danish. The majority of the population is Evangelical Lutheran. Nearly all Greenlanders live along the fjords in the south-west of the main island, which has a relatively mild climate. Approximately 15,000 Greenlanders reside in Nuuk, the capital city.

 

 


Photograph via Travelglobep.com

 

If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt away completely, the world’s sea level would rise by more than 7 meters (23 feet)

 

 

EAST TASIILAQ, GREENLAND

 


Photograph via Travelglobep.com

 

Both Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) and Danish have been used in public affairs since the establishment of home rule in 1979, and the majority of the population can speak both languages. Greenlandic became the sole official language in June 2009. In practice, Danish is still widely used in the administration, as a language of higher education, but also as the first or only language for parts of the population in Nuuk and larger towns. A debate about the role of Greenlandic and Danish in future society is ongoing. The country has a 100% literacy rate

 

 

REINDEER HERD NEAR IVITUUT, GREENLAND

 


Photograph by YANN ARTHUS-BERTRAND

 

 

SOURCES

- Wikipedia: Greenland
Wikipedia: History of Greenland
Wikipedia: Northeast Greenland National Park

 

 

ICEBERG OFF SYDPROVEN, GREENLAND

 


Photograph by YANN ARTHUS-BERTRAND

 

UUMMANNAQ, GREENLAND

 


Photograph by ALGKALV

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this article, the Sifter highly recommends:

 
The Craziest Cliffs in Norway

 

 

 

 

Pin ItEmail this

Comments

Like Us on Facebook?

Close: I already like TwistedSifter