Greenland – Frozen Island
Greenland is the world’s largest island most of which lies within the Arctic Circle. Its area is 2,175,600 square kilometers. Its northern tip is only 800 kilometers from the North Pole. Mountains run along the island’s east and west coasts. Gunnbjorn is the highest point (3,700 m). Greenland is almost entirely covered in ice and in some places it is more than 3000 meters thick. Deep fjords and glaciers line the coasts; in many areas the great ice sheet runs directly into the sea. The weather in Greenland is cold and may change quickly from sunshine to blizzards.
Greenland’s official name, Kalaallit Nunaat, means “land of the people.”
There are very few trees in Greenland’s tundra. Grasses, sedges, and mosslike lichens are the main plants. Only seven kinds of mammals live there. They are polar bears, musk-oxen, reindeer, arctic foxes, snow hares, ermines, and lemmings.
Most Greenlanders are of Inuit (Eskimo) heritage. They moved there from North America between 4000 BC and AD 1000. The first European settlement in Greenland was founded in 986 by the Viking explorer Erik the Red. About 15 years later, his son Leif Eriksson sailed west from Greenland and became one of the first Europeans to reach North America. In the early 1700s Denmark colonized Greenland. In 1979 Denmark gave Greenland the power to govern itself. But Denmark kept control of Greenland’s foreign relations.
The main languages are Greenlandic (an Inuit language), Danish, and English.
Nuuk is the capital city of the country. It is a very modern city, built mostly since the 1950s.
Greenland is known to possess reserves of zinc, lead, iron ore, coal, molybdenum, gold, platinum, uranium, and cryolite. Oil and gas are suspected to be present. The extreme climate has prevented exploitation of most of these resources.
The Northeast Greenland National Park is the largest in the world. It covers an area of 972,000 km².
The Ilulissat Fjord is the world’s largest glacier, not including Antarctica. Its length is 40 km. In 2004, the fjord was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The only fountain in Greenland is in Qaqortoq.
White nights are from 25 May to 25 July. June 21 is the longest day of the year and a national holiday.
Greenland is the best place on earth to observe the Northern Lights. It can be seen from the mid-September to the mid-April.
The most popular souvenir from Greenland is a tupilak (local spirit) figurines. They are handmade from teeth, bones, stones and wood.