Glorious Greenland

Greenland is the world’s largest island and of Danish territory which is between both the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The majority of its land is ice, however the majority of its population live on the south coast Fjords which are largely ice free. The area is just over 2 million sq kilometers however is populated by only 56,000 people, 86% of which are the native inuit.

Greenland has a rich and diverse wildlife, and these include Polar Bears, Oxen, whales, Musk and Sea Eagles. The area also benefits from an abundance of bird life and although the majority is migratory, there are still 60 different species which are permanent breeders on the island. In total there are believed to be 245 different species which have been observed from the island. The largest and arguably most impressive is the white-tailed eagle which is the largest bird of prey in the world. Seals also make up a large part of the wildlife scene here. The country has 5 different species of seal, and they can be seen along much of the coastline. The coast also makes for the ideal place to see whales and the Greenlandic water are home to 15 different species including the humpback and Greenland Whales. Late May is perceived to be the best time to spot these and during this spring month they can be seen not far from the coastline.

Like many Nordic countries, Greenland benefits from the home geothermal springs which are synonymous with this area. The island of Uunartoq is particularly renowned for these and the area which is surrounded by mountains and floating drifting icebergs makes for a dramatic spot to enjoy these naturally heated pools. The National Park in Greenland is one of the largest in the world and is often described as an untouched and raw arctic paradise. It is however due to its size and remoteness largely unvisited and often flightseeing can be the best way to explore this dramatic area of wilderness. The country is also home to a very active dog sledding community. For thousands of years dog sledding has been the primary mode of transport for the Inuit people. Today it offers a rare glimpse into the extraordinary way in which the ancient way of getting around is still so vital to the local inhabitants.

Due to the rugged and harsh terrain, many also look to the water as an appropriate mode of transport and both the kayak and larger Umiaq have both become crucial ways for getting around. They are also the perfect way to explore this dramatic coastline. This increased enormously in the last wave of immigration from Canada and has been a vital source of transport ever since. Tours and cruises around the coast can be one of the best and most rewarding ways to get the most from this stunning country.

The capital of Nuuk is on the Southwest Coast and is a small city which is renowned for its waterfalls and icebergs due to its location on the edge for Fjords. The city contains almost a third of Greenland’s total population as originally founded back in 1728. Today, the city is full of fashionable boutique shops, gourmet restaurants and cultural museums. The national museum is in the city and gives a powerful insight into how the country’s native people have survived for so many years in a harsh and unforgiving natural habitat.

Greenland is also home to three UNESCO world heritage sites. The first of which is Ilulissat Icefjord which joined in 2004 and is a 61km Fjord which is fed by the fastest moving glacier in the world. The Kujataa is a cultural site which celebrates farming in the country. Particularly within both the Norse and Inuit cultures. The latest addition is the Aasivissuit which is a vast area on the west coast of the island which has predominately been used as an Inuit hunting ground but is now becoming one of Greenland’s must-see areas due to its great beauty and diverse flora and fauna.