Greenland (Greenlandic: Kalaallit Nunaat) 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 Norway and later Denmark) for more than a millennium. In 2008, the people of Greenland passed a referendum supporting greater autonomy; 75% of votes cast were in favour. Greenland is, in terms of area, the world’s largest island, over 3/4 of which is covered by the only contemporary ice sheet outside of Antarctica. With a population of 56,370 (2013), it is the least densely populated country in the world.
Greenland has been inhabited off and on for at least the last 4,500 years by Arctic peoples whose forebears migrated there from Canada. Norsemen settled on the uninhabited southern part of Greenland beginning in the 10th century. Inuit peoples arrived in the 13th century. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century. In the early 18th century, Scandinavia and Greenland came back into contact with each other, and Denmark established sovereignty over the Iceland.
Having been ruled by Denmark–Norway for centuries, Greenland (Danish: Grønland) became a Danish colony in 1814, and a part of the Danish Realm in 1953 under the Constitution of Denmark. In 1973, Greenland joined the European Economic Community with Denmark. However, in 1983, a majority of the population voted for Greenland to withdraw from the EEC in a referendum and Greenland officially withdrew in 1985. In 1979, Denmark granted home rule to Greenland, and in 2008, Greenlanders voted to transfer more power from the Danish royal government to the local Greenlandic government. Under the new structure, in effect since 21 June 2009, the Danish government retains control of foreign affairs, national defence, the police force, and the justice system. It also retains control of monetary policy, providing an initial annual subsidy of DKK 3.4 billion, slated to diminish gradually over time as Greenland’s economy is strengthened by increased income from the extraction of natural resources.Pictures at Google
Tasiilaq, formerly Ammassalik and Angmagssalik, is a town in the Sermersooq municipality in southeastern Greenland. With 1,930 inhabitants as of 2010, it is the most populous community on the eastern coast, and the seventh-largest town in Greenland. The Sermilik Station, dedicated to the research of the nearby Mittivakkat Glacier, is located near the town.
Due to back migrations to the more densely populated western coast, the southeastern coast was deserted for another two hundred years−the region wasn’t settled until late eighteenth century, with the village surviving as the only permanent settlement in the nineteenth century. Population increased however from the 1880s, dispersing over several villages in the area.
The permanent settlement was founded in 1894 as a Danish trading station. The town was previously known as Ammassalik (old spelling: Angmagssalik). The official name change took place in 1997.Pictures at Google
Ittoqqortoormiit, formerly known as Scoresbysund, is a settlement in the Sermersooq municipality in eastern Greenland. Its population is 469 as of 2010.
The former name Scoresbysund derives the Arctic explorer and whaler William Scoresby, who was the first to map the area in 1822. The name “Ittoqqortoormiit” means “Big-House Dwellers” in the Eastern Greenlandic dialect. The region is known for its wildlife, including polar bears, muskoxen, and seals.
Ittoqqortoormiit was founded in 1925 by Ejnar Mikkelsen and some 80 Inuit settlers (70 persons from Tasiilaq and four families from western Greenland). They were brought on the ship Gustav Holm and settled 400 km south of the last known Inuit settlement in northeastern Greenland (Eskimonæs at Dødemandsbugten on the south coast of Clavering Ø, 27 km southwest of later Daneborg, 1823).
The settlement was encouraged by the colonial power Denmark which at the time had a growing interest in Northeast Greenland. At the same time, the colonization was intended to improve declining living conditions in Tasiilaq, from where the settlers were more or less voluntarily transferred. The settlers soon prospered on the good hunting conditions of the new area, which was rich in seals, walruses, narwhals, polar bears and arctic foxes.
Before that, however, the area itself had been home to a dense population of Inuit in the past, as testified by ruins and other archeological remains.Pictures at Google
Qaanaaq,formerly Thule or New Thule, is the main town in the northern part of the Qaasuitsup municipality in northwestern Greenland. It is one of the northernmost towns in the world. The inhabitants of Qaanaaq speak Kalaallisut and Danish and many also speak Inuktun. The town has a population of 626 as of 2010. The tallest construction in Greenland, the 378-meter Globecom Tower (Radio Mast Thule), was located near the town.
The Qaanaaq area in northern Greenland was first settled 2000 BC by the Paleo-Eskimo migrating from the Canadian Arctic.
The town of Qaanaaq was established in the winter of 1953 when the United States expanded their airbase at Thule and forcibly relocated the population of Pituffik, Dundas, and Uummannaq 31 km (19 mi) to the north within four days during the height of the Cold War. The settlement was subsequently moved another 100 kilometers to the north.Pictures at Google
Upernavik (Kalaallisut: “Springtime Place”) is a small town in the Qaasuitsup municipality in northwestern Greenland, located on a small island of the same name. With 1,129 inhabitants as of 2010, it is the thirteenth-largest town in Greenland. Owing to the small size of the settlement, everything is within walking distance. It contains the Upernavik Museum. It is the northern-most town in Greenland with a population of over 1,000.
The town was founded as Upernavik in 1772. From the former name of its island, it was sometimes known as Women’s Island; its name was also sometimes Anglicized to “Uppernavik”. In 1824, the Kingittorsuaq Runestone was found outside the town. It bears runic characters left by Vikings, probably from the late 13th century. The runic characters list the names of three Vikings and mention the construction of a rock cairn nearby.
This is the furthest north that any Viking artifacts have been found, other than those small artifacts that could have been carried north by Inuit traders and marks the northern known limit of Viking exploration.Pictures at Google
Uummannaq is a town in the Qaasuitsup municipality, in northwestern Greenland. With 1,299 inhabitants as of 2010, it is the eleventh-largest town in Greenland, and is home to the country’s most northerly ferry terminal. Founded in 1763 as Omenak, the town is a hunting and fishing base, with a canning factory and a marble quarry.Pictures at Google
Ilulissat, formerly Jakobshavn, is a town in the Qaasuitsup municipality in western Greenland, located approximately 200 km (120 mi) north of the Arctic Circle. With the population of 4,546 as of 2010, it is the third-largest settlement in Greenland, after Nuuk and Sisimiut.
In direct translation, Ilulissat is the Kalaallisut word “Icebergs”. The picturesque Ilulissat Icefjord has made Ilulissat Greenland’s most popular tourist destination and tourism is now the town’s principal industry.
The town was established as a trading post by Jacob Severin’s company in 1741 and named in his honor. The name was sometimes anglicized as Jacobshaven. The Zion Church (Zions Kirke) constructed in the late 18th century was the largest man-made work on Greenland in its time.
Between 27 and 29 May 2008, the town was the site of the Arctic Ocean Conference hosted by Per Stig Møller, the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Hans Enoksen, the Greenlandic Prime Minister. The joint meeting between Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States was held to discuss key issues relating to territorial claims in the Arctic (particularly Hans Island and Arktika 2007) and Arctic shrinkage produced by climate change.
The Ilulissat Declaration arose from the conference. It stated that the law of the sea provided for important rights and obligations concerning the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf, the protection of the marine environment, including ice-covered areas, freedom of navigation, marine scientific research, and other uses of the sea. It also said that it remained committed to this legal framework and to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping claims.
With this existing legal framework, providing a solid foundation for responsible management, there was no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean. The states involved, would keep abreast of the developments in the Arctic Ocean and continue to implement appropriate measures.Pictures at Google
Qeqertarsuaq, or Godhavn, is a port and town in Qaasuitsup municipality, located on the south coast of Disko Island on the west coast of Greenland. Founded in 1773, the town is now home to a campus of the University of Copenhagen. “Qeqertarsuaq” is the Kalaallisut name for Disko Island and is also now used for several other islands on Greenland in Qaasuitsup, including those formerly known as Upernavik and Herbert Island.
In 2010, the town had 907 inhabitants. The remainder of the population of the island (about 50 people) lives in the Kangerluk settlement, a few hours by boat to the northwest.
Traces of settlement between five and six thousand years ago have been found at Qeqertarsuaq. The settlers were paleo-Eskimos wandering south.
During the 18th century, the first whalers came to Qeqertarsuaq, where they found a suitable anchorage. The town was founded as Godhavn by the whaler Svend Sandgreen in 1773. The name was sometimes anglicized as Guthaven and the settlement was also known as Lievely or Leifly. It served as the northernmost point in the enforcement of the Danish rights to whaling in the region. Whaling has been of great importance to the town over the past two centuries. Hunting and fishing are still the primary occupations for the island’s inhabitants.
From an early date, Godhavn shared the administration of Greenland with Godthåb (modern Nuuk). Godhavn served as the capital for North Greenland while Godthåb directed South Greenland. In 1862, a new law on municipalities was passed and the so-called Directions were introduced in Greenland. The primary task of the Directions was the administration of the means set apart for social purposes: support for widows, orphans, and others in need. The Directions also functioned as inferior courts in case of theft and other petty crimes. The Directions also took active part in the fight against the spreading of distemper. In Godhavn, they founded a kayak school for boys and a sewing school for girls.
The Councils of Northern and Southern Greenland were summoned to a meeting in Godhavn on 3 May 1940. Following this meeting, administration for the entire island was concentrated in Godthåb. The Chief Administrative Office was abolished in 1950 at the establishment of the National Council of Greenland. With the end of government positions in town, the local economy focused more directly on hunting and fishing.
On 1 January 2009, the former Qeqertarsuaq municipality was merged into the new Qaasuitsup municipality.Pictures at Google
Qasigiannguit, formerly Christianshåb, is a town located in western Greenland on the southeastern shore of Disko Bay in the Qaasuitsup municipality. With 1,253 inhabitants (2010), it is the twelfth-largest town in Greenland. The main industry is shrimp and halibut fishing.
The settlement was founded as a trading post for Jacob Severin’s company in 1734 and named Christianshaab in honor of King Christian VI of Denmark. The name was sometimes anglicized as Christian’s Hope.
Paul Egede’s former residence is Greenland’s oldest surviving wooden building. It was completed on 25 July 1734 and moved to its present site in 1806 owing to the heavy wind at its original location across the bay. In 1997, a museum was officially opened in the Egede house. In the summer of 1999, an archaeological discovery provided the museum with a collection of finds from different prehistoric cultures.’Pictures at Google
Aasiaat, formerly Egedesminde, is a town in the Qaasuitsup municipality in western Greenland, located in the heart of Aasiaat Archipelago at the southern end of Disko Bay. With a population of 3,005 as of 2010, it is Greenland’s fifth-largest town.
The settlement that would become Aasiaat was founded in 1759 by Niels Egede, the son of Hans Egede, a Norwegian missionary. Named Egedesminde Colony after him, it was located north of Nordre Strømfjord, and was 125 km south of Aasiaat’s current location. The town was moved to its current site in 1763. Most villagers were whalers, and the smallpox germs they carried to the region was harmful to the native population, especially in the 1770s. But by the beginning of the 19th century, the population had stabilized and was rising slowly. It grew from 390 in 1805 to 1,269 in 1901.Pictures at Google
Kangaatsiaq (old spelling: Kangâtsiaq) is a town located at the southern end of the Qaasuitsup municipality in western Greenland. The town received town status as recently as 1986, though as a settlement it has existed much longer. It has 586 inhabitants as of 2010. Nearby settlements are Attu, Niaqornaarsuk, Ikerasaarsuk and Iginniarfik.Pictures at Google
Sisimiut, formerly Holsteinsborg, is a town in central-western Greenland, located on the coast of Davis Strait, approximately 320 km (200 mi) north of Nuuk. It is the administrative center of the Qeqqata Municipality and the second-largest town in Greenland, with a population of 5,460 people as of 2010. The site of the present-day town has been inhabited for the last 4,500 years. The first inhabitants were the Inuit peoples of the Saqqaq culture, Dorset culture, and then the Thule people, whose descendants form the majority of the current population. Artifacts from the early settlement era can be found throughout the region, favored in the past for its plentiful fauna, particularly the marine mammals providing subsistence for the early hunting societies. The population of modern Greenlanders in Sisimiut is a mix of the Inuit and Danish peoples, who first settled in the area in the 1720s, under the leadership of the Danish missionary, Hans Egede.
Today, Sisimiut is the largest business center north of the national capital of Nuuk and is one of the fastest growing towns in Greenland. Fishing is the principal industry in Sisimiut, although the town has a growing industrial base. KNI and its subsidiary Pilersuisoq, a state-owned chain of all-purpose general stores in Greenland, have their base in Sisimiut. Architecturally, Sisimiut is a mix of traditional, single-family houses, and communal housing, with apartment blocks raised in the 1960s during a period of town expansion in Greenland. Sisimiut is still expanding, with the area north of the port, on the shore of the small Kangerluarsunnguaq Bay reserved for a modern suburb-style housing slated for construction in the 2010s. Several professional and general schools are based in Sisimiut, providing education to the inhabitants of the town and to those from smaller settlements in the region. The new Taseralik Culture Center is the second Cultural Center to be established in Greenland, after Katuaq in Nuuk.
The town has its own bus line, and is the northernmost year-round ice-free port in the country, a shipping base for western and northwestern Greenland. Supply ships head from the commercial port towards smaller settlements in more remote regions of Uummannaq Fjord, Upernavik Archipelago, and as far as Qaanaaq in northern Greenland. The town airport is served by Air Greenland, providing connections to other towns on the western coast of Greenland, and through Kangerlussuaq Airport, to Europe.
Sisimiut is located approximately 320 km (200 mi) north of Nuuk, and 75 km (47 mi) north of the Arctic Circle, on the eastern shores of Davis Strait, perched on a series of rocky outcrops at the western end of a large peninsula bounded from the north by the Kangerluarsuk Tulleq fjord and from the south by the wide Amerloq Fjord.Pictures at Google
Maniitsoq, formerly Sukkertoppen, is a town in western Greenland located in the Qeqqata municipality. With 2,784 inhabitants as of 2010, it is the sixth-largest town in Greenland.
Archaeological finds indicate that the area has been settled for more than 4,000 years.
The modern town was founded as New or Nye-Sukkertoppen in 1782 by Danish colonists relocating from the original Sukkertoppen, a trading post founded in 1755 at the site of present-day Kangaamiut. In time, the original name was taken up again.
In the 19th century, the town served as a major trading post for the Royal Greenland Trading Department’s trade in reindeer hides.Pictures at Google
Nuuk (Danish: Godthåb) is the capital and largest city of Greenland. It is the seat of government, as well as the country’s largest cultural and economic center. The major cities closest to the capital are Iqaluit and St. John’s in Canada, and Reykjavík in Iceland.
Nuuk is the seat of government for the Sermersooq municipality. In January 2010, it had a population of 15,469, making it one of the smallest capital cities in the world by population.
Nuuk is the Kalaallisut word for “cape”. It is so named because of its position at the end of the Nuup Kangerlua fjord on the eastern shore of the Labrador Sea.
The site has a long history of habitation. The area around Nuuk was first occupied by the ancient pre-Inuit, Paleo-Eskimo people of the Saqqaq culture as far back as 2200 BC when they lived in the area around the now abandoned settlement of Qoornoq. For a long time it was occupied by the Dorset culture around the former settlement of Kangeq but they disappeared from the Nuuk district before AD 1000. The Nuuk area was later inhabited by Viking explorers in the 10th century, and shortly thereafter by Inuit peoples. Inuit and Norsemen both lived with little interaction in this area from about 1000 until the disappearance of the Norse settlement for uncertain reasons during the 15th century.
The city proper was founded as the fort of Godt-Haab in 1728 by the royal governor Claus Paarss, when he relocated the missionary and merchant Hans Egede’s earlier Hope Colony (Haabets Koloni) from Kangeq Island to the mainland. At that time, Greenland was formally still a Norwegian colony under the united Dano-Norwegian Crown, but the colony had not had any contact for over three centuries. Paarss’s colonists consisted of mutinous soldiers, convicts, and prostitutes and most died within the first year of scurvy and other ailments. In 1733 and 1734, a smallpox epidemic killed most of the native population as well as Egede’s wife. Hans Egede went back to Denmark in 1736 after 15 years in Greenland, leaving his son Poul to continue his work. Godthaab became the seat of government for the Danish colony of South Greenland, while Godhavn (modern Qeqertarsuaq) was the capital of North Greenland until 1940 when the administration was unified in Godthaab.
In 1733, Moravian missionaries received permission to begin a mission on the island; in 1747, there were enough converts to prompt the construction of the Moravian Brethren Mission House and the formal establishment of the mission as New Herrnhut (Danish: Nye-Hernhut). This became the nucleus for present-day Nuuk as many Greenlanders from the southeastern coast left their territory to live at the mission station. From this base, further missions were established at Lichtenfels (1748), Lichtenau (1774), Friedrichsthal (1824), Umanak (1861), and Idlorpait (1864), before they were discontinued in 1900 and folded into the Lutheran Church of Denmark.
Around 1850, Greenland and especially the area around Nuuk were in crisis. The Europeans had brought diseases and a culture that conflicted with the ways of the native Greenlanders. Many Greenlanders were living in poverty. In 1853, Hinrich Johannes Rink came to Greenland and perceived that the Greenlanders had lost much of their culture and identity under Danish influence. In response, in 1861, he started the Atuagagdliutt, Greenland’s first newspaper, with a native Greenlander as editor. This newspaper based in Nuuk later became very significant for the Greenlandic identity.
During World War II, there was a reawakening to Greenlandic national identity. Greenlanders shared a written language and assembled a council under Eske Brun’s leadership in Nuuk. In 1940 an American and a Canadian Consulate were established in Nuuk. Under new regulations in 1950, two councils amalgamated into one. This Countryside Council was abolished on May 1, 1979, when the city of Godthåb was renamed Nuuk by the Greenland Home Rule government. The city boomed during the 1950s, when Denmark began to modernise Greenland. As in Greenland as a whole, Nuuk is populated today by both Inuit and Danes. Currently over a third of Greenland’s total population lives in the Nuuk Greater Metropolitan area.Pictures at Google
Paamiut, formerly Frederikshåb, is a town in southwestern Greenland in the Sermersooq municipality.
People have lived in the Paamiut area since around 1500 BC. The name Paamiut is Kalaallisut for “Those who Reside by the Mouth”.
The trading post of Frederikshaab (sometimes anglicized as Frederick’s Hope) was established by Jacob Severin’s company in 1742 and named in honor of the Crown Prince Frederick (later King Frederick V of Denmark).
The community prospered on trading fur and whale products. It also became known for its soapstone artists. The town has one of the finest churches in Greenland, built in 1909 from wood in the Norwegian style.
Following the warming climatic trends since the 1920s, Paamiut developed a booming cod industry between the 1950s and 1989, when the stock dwindled. In connection with a development plan called G60 Paamiut was chosen as to be the place to live for the entire population of the former Paamiut municipality. Therefore the number of people living there rose significantly during that period.
There is local museum downtown in original buildings from the previous century, among them a carpenter workshop and a salt warehouse.Pictures at Google
Narsaq or Narssaq is a town in the Kujalleq municipality in southern Greenland. The name Narsaq is Kalaallisut for “Plain”, referring to the beautiful shore of Tunulliarfik Fjord where the town is located.
People have lived in the area for thousands of years, but not continuously. Remains of the Norse settlement can be found in the area. The church ruins of Dyrnes can be found on the north-western outskirts of the town. The Landnám homestead, Landnamsgaarden, can be found immediately to the west of the town. Dated to the year 1000, the homestead is among the oldest of the Norse ruins in the area. The wider Narsaq area has some of the most striking Norse artefacts and ruins. Erik the Red’s Brattahlid is located in present-day Qassiarsuk, and the Gardar bishop seat is in present-day Igaliku.
Present day Narsaq was founded as Nordprøven (“North Prøven”) in 1830, distinguishing it from Sydprøven (“South Prøven”, modern Alluitsup Paa) established the same year. The initial settlement was founded as a trading colony of Qaqortoq, then named Julianehaab.
A trading center was established here due to the natural deep water harbor which could accommodate ocean faring vessels, . Initially local seal hunters traded blubber and seal skin for continental goods, such as coffee, sugar, bread and buckwheat.
Until approximately 1900 seal hunting formed the main economy for Narsaq. In the early 1900s seal hunting began to fail, and the main basis for the economy gradually shifted to fishing. The city’s historical fishing village is from 1914. The main house of the historical village today houses the power company in the city.
Simiutak at the Skovfjord mouth near Narsaq was a HF/DF radio range finding station called Bluie West Three during World War Two. The station commenced operations in January 1942, and was permanently manned until the end of the war.
The population also increased during this period, from 25 in 1870, to 162 in 1919, and to 300 in 1930. However the settlement did not experience significant population growth until 1953, when its first prawn and fishing factory of Royal Greenland was established. The factory was subsequently closed in 2010.
In 1959 the population exceeded 600, and Narsaq achieved town status. With 1,613 inhabitants as of 2010, it is the ninth-largest town in Greenland. Several hundred people live in the surrounding community.
Until December 31, 2008, the town was the administrative center of Narsaq Municipality in the Kitaa amt. In addition to the town, the municipality consisted of the Qassiarsuk, Igaliku and Narsarsuaq settlements, as well as several sheep and reindeer farms. On January 1, 2009, Narsaq became part of Kujalleq municipality, when the Kitaa amt, as well as the municipalities of Narsaq, Qaqortoq, and Nanortalik ceased to exist as administrative entities.Pictures at Google
Qaqortoq, formerly Julianehåb, is a town in the Kujalleq municipality in southern Greenland. With a population of 3,230 in 2011, it is the most populous town in southern Greenland and the fourth-largest town on the island.
The area around Qaqortoq has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Beginning with the Saqqaq culture roughly 4,300 years ago, the area has had a continuous human presence.
The present-day town was founded in 1774 by the Dano-Norwegian trader Anders Olsen, on behalf of the General Trading Company. The town was christened Julianehaab after the Danish queen Juliane Marie, although it sometimes mistakenly appears as “Julianshaab”. The name was also sometimes anglicized as Juliana’s Hope. The town became a major center for the saddle-back seal trade and today remains the home of the Great Greenland sealskin tannery.
Until December 31, 2008, the town was the administrative center of Qaqortoq municipality. On January 1, 2009, Qaqortoq became the biggest town and the administrative center of Kujalleq municipality, when the municipalities of Qaqortoq, Narsaq, and Nanortalik ceased to exist as administrative entities.
The building that now houses the Qaqortoq museum was originally the town’s blacksmith’s shop. The house was built in yellow stone and dates back to 1804.
The oldest standing building at the historical colonial harbor – and thus of all of Qaqortoq – is a black-tarred log building from 1797. The building was designed by royal Danish architect Kirkerup, pre-assembled in Denmark, shipped in pieces to Qaqortoq, and then reassembled.
The town is home to the oldest fountain in Greenland, Mindebrønden, built in 1927. It was the only fountain in the country prior to another in Sisimiut. A tourist attraction, the fountain depicts whales spouting water out of their blowholes.Pictures at Google
Nanortalik is a town in the Kujalleq municipality in southern Greenland. With 1,448 inhabitants in 2010, it is the tenth-largest town in the country. The name Nanortalik means “Place of Polar Bears” or “Place Where the Polar Bears Go” (from Greenlandic: nanoq). It is the southern-most town in Greenland with a population of over 1,000.
Because of its location, this area was one of the first parts of Greenland settled by the Norse and one of the last settled by the Inuit. The town was founded in 1770 as Nennortalik. In 1797, a permanent trading depot was set up in Nanortalik by traders from Julianehåb. Due to poor harbour facilities, the town was moved three kilometers northward in 1830, where it remains today. Of the old town, only some scattered ruins remain.
Nanortalik is located on a small island (also named Nanortalik) on the shores of the Labrador Sea, roughly 100 km north of Cape Farewell, the southern tip of Greenland. The headland nearby is known as Cape Egede.
Nanortalik is most well known for its towering mountain peaks and vertical walls in Tasermiut Fjord. Names like Ketil Mountain (1500 m) and Ulamertorsuaq are familiar to mountain climbers from around the world. The mountains in the region can easily be compared with the toughest routes in the Alps, and challenging ascents should only be attempted by experienced climbers.
Nanortalik has a polar climate with oceanic influences, which cause low temperature differences between seasons. Winters in Nanortalik are very mild compared to the rest of Greenland, with average January temperature being -3°C. The summers are cold, with average July temperature 6°C. The climate is much like a colder version of the Pacific coast climate seen in cities like Eureka.Pictures at Google