8 Things You Can Only Find in Greenland and Nowhere Else

Here is a list of things that you can find ONLY in Greenland and nowhere else in the world.

There are few places in the world like Greenland — a land defined by its frosty tundra, icebergs that are as tall as buildings, and a massive ice sheet. A place where technicolored lights dance across the dark winter skies, and the midnight sun shimmers through summer nights.

Greenland is spectacular, vast, wild, rugged and, most of all, truly unique. If you enjoy seeking unconventional experiences and unusual places, Greenland is unlike anywhere on Earth. Here is a list of things that you can find ONLY in Greenland and nowhere else in the world.

1
Greenland Ice Sheet

Almost 80 percent of Greenland is covered by the Greenland ice sheet, a gigantic body of ice that spreads across the big island. It’s one of only two ice sheets in the world.

If you’re still not impressed, listen to this: The ice sheet has been around for 18 million years! Currently it sprawls across an area of 1.8 million km² (695,000 square miles), that is 14 times the size of England.

Historically, the ice cap was not inhabited as Greenlanders chose to stay on the coastal areas with access to the water. Now, the Greenland Ice Sheet has become a go-to place for those looking for an Arctic adventure.

From Kangerlussuaq, a 25 km dirt road leads directly to the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet. You can walk or ride a snowmobile on it, and even camp overnight here!

A group glacier walking on the Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq. Photo by Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland

2
The Oldest Life on Earth

Geologists discovered traces of life in some rocks found in the Isukasia area of southwest Greenland, that date to between 3.7 billion and 3.8 billion years old. 

Based on analyses of the ancient rock, a scientist named Minik Rosing interpreted carbon particles in them as traces of life. With advanced techniques including infrared and mass spectroscopy, he proved that his theory was in fact true.

This meant that life on Earth began several hundred million years earlier than previously assumed.

Edited by Minik Rosing

Minik Rosing is pointing the oldest life on earth. Photo by Minik Rosing.

3
The Longest Words in the World

The official language in Greenland is West Greenlandic language, Kalaallisut, which is a particularly interesting language for foreigners. So what makes it special?

Kalaallisut is a polysynthetic language, which means that words are formed with a root, one or more affixes and a suffix. As such, a Greenlandic word can get very long, creating what are known as “sentence-words.”

The longest word in Greenlandic, is said to be

Nalunaarasuartaateeranngua-lioqatigiiffissualioriataallaqqissu-pilorujussuanngortartuinnaka-sinngortinniamisaalinnguatsia-
raluallaqqooqigaminnga-miaasiinngooq

Do you wonder how to pronounce it?

Click below.

Meaning ‘There were reports that they apparently – God knows for how many times – once again had considered whatever I, my poor condition despite, still could be considered to be quite adept and resourceful as initiator to put a consortium together for the establishment of a range of small radio stations’. That’s 153 letters in one word!

Want to learn more about Greenlandic language?

Check out these two videos below!

Continues further down the page…

Package Tours

Arctic Umiaq Line: Discover Greenland from the sea

Arctic Umiaq Line

Discover Greenland from the sea

The coastal ship Sarfaq Ittuk sails from southern Greenland up along Greenland’s west coast to Disko Bay.

Disko Line: Calving glaciers, whales and icebergs

Disko Line

Calving glaciers, whales and icebergs

Let the magnificent nature of Greenland get under your skin on boat trips in an extraordinary landscape of glaciers and icebergs.

Greenland by Topas – Summer tour: Disko Island, Icebergs and Eqi Glacier

Greenland by Topas

Summer tour: Disko Island, Icebergs and Eqi Glacier

Experience Disko Island’s glaciers, Disko Bay’s huge icebergs and legendary whales, then further north, Eqi Glacier's deafening calving events.

Greenland Tours: Hearts of the Inuit

Greenland Tours

Hearts of the Inuit

6 days during winter in Disko Bay with Inuit settlement visit

4
Greenlandic Reindeer

The Greenlandic Reindeer is the only reindeer species found in Greenland. They have lived in Greenland for thousands of years, and have been the main food source for Greenlanders for just as long. Reindeer hunting is a popular Greenlandic tradition that even younger Greenlanders embrace.

In spite of that, the Greenlandic Reindeer is the most commonly found land mammal in Greenland, particularly on the west coast. There are high chances of seeing a Greenlandic Reindeer if you go hiking in the Greenlandic fells, especially in the area between Paamiut and Uummannaq

Reindeer. Photo by Peter Lindstrom - Visit Greenland
Reindeer served at restaurant in Ilulissat. Photo by David Trood - Visit Greenland

5
Whale meat

Because of the geographical location of Greenland, the sea is the main source of food for Greenlanders. For thousands of years, Greenlanders sustained themselves with meat from marine animals found in their seas, including whales, walruses and seals.

Until today, these animals are a part of the Greenlanders’ diet, though they are reserved mainly for special occasions. Greenland’s unofficial national dish is Suaasat, a traditional soup made from seal or whale meat, onions and potatoes. Another traditional Inuit dish is the mattak, raw pieces of whale skin with blubber (often from a narwhal, bowhead or beluga).

To protect the marine life, each administrative area in Greenland is assigned a certain quota for whaling and fishing. Certain species like the blue whale are protected and thus cannot be fished. Also, no export of whale and seal meat is allowed — they are only consumed locally.

Seal soup served outside in Narsaq. Photo by Peter Lindstrom - Visit Greenland
Cutting Mattak With an Ulu, the traditional women's knife. Photo by Lola Akinmade Åkerström - Visit Greenland

Infographic:
Food in Greenland

The Greenlandic food culture is closely linked to the Greenlandic feeling of identity. If you want to feel like a genuine Greenlander eat like the locals!

This will give you a unique insight into a food culture that has traditionally been dependent on what can be caught in the wild. There are as many ways to eat Kalaalimernit as there are people, but here is a guide that will help you through some of the Greenlandic delicacies that you are likely to come across during your trip.

6
Tupilak

Myths and characters play a vital role in Greenlandic culture. The most famous character is the Greenlandic tupilak, which refers to an ancestor’s soul or spirit.

Traditionally, a shaman would call upon the tupilak spirit to help against an enemy by creating a figure made from various bones or other parts of animals. He would then sing a spell on the figure, place it into the sea to seek to destroy the enemy.

Over the years, it has become a Greenlandic tradition to make tupilaks from local materials including wood, animal bones, walrus tusks and reindeer antlers. They are often carved based characters from Inuit mythology. These days, they are an important part of Greenlandic Inuit art and are highly prized as collectibles.

Visitor of Nuuk Art Museum looking at a collection of tupilaks in Nuuk, Greenland, by Rebecca Gustafsson - Visit Greenland

7
Greenlandic Rock Music

When the Greenlandic rock band Sumé came into the music scene in the 1970s, they created a wave that swept across Greenland. These early pioneers of Greenlandic rock music helped pave the way for what has become an extraordinarily diverse music scene.

These days, Greenlandic rock music is still a big hit in Greenland. Locals adore rock bands like Siisisoq, Chilly Friday, and Arctic Spirits. There are also pop groups like Nanook, hip-hop bands such as Nuuk Posse and punk-rock bands such as Uummat.

Christian and Frederik Elsner - the core of the Greenlandic band Nanook, performing in Frederik's living room in Nuuk. Photo by Mads Pihl - Visit Greenland

8
A Mall that Doubles as the Premier’s Office

Greenland’s first mall, Nuuk Center, has everything you’d expect from a shopping center: restaurants, boutiques and a supermarket. The surprise lies not in the mall itself, but it the tower above it.

The nine-story tower is home to Greenland’s government. Greenland is now governed by self-rule, and has its own government. All of the different Ministries are located here, with the highest floor being, of course, dedicated to the Premier’s office.

Nuuk Decorated for Christmas. Photo by Camilla Hylleberg - Visit Greenland
Café Pascucci in Nuuk. Photo by Lola Akinmade Åkerström - Visit Greenland
Nellie Huang

By Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a book author, travel blogger and founder of WildJunket.com. She has traveled to over 140 countries and is now on a quest to show her daughter the world.