Best of Greenland | Introduction
First things first, the name Greenland is an absurd choice for this place. Greenland not the lush verdant paradise I imagine when I think of a “green land.” Instead, Greenland is a barely hospitable arctic vortex. If that wasn’t confusing enough, Greenland literally means “land of people”, and considering the entire island supports a population roughly the size of my undergraduate university, this further proves the absurdity.
Greenland got explored by the Viking.
The most common legend as to why Greenland got its name is that a Viking named Erik the Red made it up to convince people to go there. Whether this is true or not, Erik the Red may have been on to something because you should want to go there (but not because it is a temperate green island).
Cool Facts about Greenland
Actual Size of Greenland
The actual size of Greenland is huge. But roughly 85% of the Greenland’s land is covered in an enormous ice sheet. The average height of this ice sheet is 1.6 miles high! The immense weight of the ice sheet pushed the center of the island roughly 1000 feet below sea level.
Capital of Greenland
The population of Greenland is about 56,000 people, with 14,000 living in the capital of Greenland, Nuuk. The climate of Greenland has an average daily temperature of −8 to 7 °C (18 to 45 °F), probably not as cold as you thought. (Nuuk, Greenland varies over the seasons from)
Officially, Greenland is part of Denmark, but at the same time it is kind of independent because the Danish don’t bother interfering much. The trend in recent years is for Greenland to become more and more autonomous, but completely autonomy is unlikely as Greenland still enjoys LARGE subsidies from Denmark.
Economy and Daily Life
Sealing, whaling, hunting, and fishing are the primary sources of income for inhabitants in Greenland. In recent years, the country’s tourism industry has been expanding as well.
There are no roads between cities because the coast has many fjords that would require ferry service to connect a road network.
An apartment in the capital of Nuuk has a 32 year waiting list (yes, this is not a typo, it is 32 years).
The minute a child is born they are typically put on the waiting list for an apartment they may or may not get 32 years later. Buying a house is also very difficult because real-estate is expensive. The expense is due to very little usable space in Greenland.
Best of Greenland : Places to Visit in Greenland
If you are wondering if you should go to Greenland the answer is yes, you should definitely go to Greenland if you have the opportunity.
Not only is the landscape exquisite, but the cities in Greenland are completely picturesque and the history is preserved and able to on almost constant display.
Below are some of the best things to do in Greenland.
Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
The northern lights or aurora borealis make the trip to Greenland worth it by themselves. The colors dance through the night sky virtually every night that sun actually sets. They say that there is 99% chance that you will see the Northern Lights if you are in Greenland between September and April.
Glaciers Give Birth To Glaciers
Glaciers consist of heavily compacted snow that build up year after year (with no summer to melt them). Every year the Greenland Glacial ice sheet produces thousands of icebergs when pieces break off into the ocean. The tallest icebergs float away at a height of a 15 story building.
Supposedly it was an iceberg from Greenland that got lost and sunk the Titanic!
One of the hardest things to fathom is the fact that in the summer the sun never sets in Greenland. Literally for 24 hours a day the sun is up and shining. Though this can knock your circadian rhythm out of whack, the experience of never not having sunlight is amazing.
Animals in Greenland | Arctic Wildlife
There is no shortage of animals in Greenland. The variety of whales, seals and fish in Greenland cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Also, the isolation of Greenland makes all of these creatures even easier to be seen.
I have been on whale watching tours where I sat on a boat for hours and hours, to only see a small snippet of a whale tail through a pair of binoculars. This will NOT be your whale watching experience if you go in Greenland.
The Ice Sheet
The ice sheet is not just a white blur, the compact ice has jagged cracks featuring a full array of beautiful blues and greens you have to see to believe. Pictures can never do these justice.
Go Dog Sledding in Greenland
Dog sledding is an Inuit classic, and is not just a novelty. This is still an integral part of life in Greenland.
Kayak tours are incredibly common in Greenland, and are an amazing way to navigate through ice fields and small islands.
Hot springs are not just in Iceland! Greenland has its own hot springs, but be careful because some of them are hot enough to burn you.
Tour operators flying airplanes and helicopters are available to book. Their tours are one of the best ways to see sites you could never otherwise access.