Greenland, a part of the Danish realm, was discovered by Norways Erik the Red after he was exiled from Iceland. It was he who gave the land the name “Greenland” in hopes of enticing settlers to the wintery destination from the more temperate Iceland. However, the Inuit have been living in Greenland for more than 4,500 years. While it is true that more than 80% of Greenland’s surface is covered in ice, much of the southern and western coast of the island is green. Situated between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, Greenland is geographically considered to be part of North America, though it is culturally Inuit and is heavily influenced by Scandinavian tradition. Today, Greenland is a self-governing part of the Danish realm.
The official languages of Greenland are Greenlandic and Danish, though most inhabitants are also fluent in English.
Greenland is the world’s largest island with a size roughly about one quarter of the United States. The total area measures 836,109 square miles. The enormous inland icecap covers about 80% of the country’s interior. The ice-free area is about the same size as France.
As part of the Danish realm, Greenland uses the Danish krone (DKK) as currency.
The official time is GMT -3, only a two hour time difference from the East coast of the United States.
The temperature in Greenland can vary widely based on season and location. The average temperature in the traveler-friendly cities of Kangerlussuaq, Ilulissat and Nuuk can hover between -4 and 14 °F during the winter months and between 40 and 55 °F during the more temperate winter months. Contrary to popular belief, the summer months in the Arctic can be quite warm. Don’t forget your T-shirts and shorts when you pack your bags.
Greenland has a total population of about 57,000. Nuuk, the capital city, is also the most heavily populated with just over 16,000 inhabitants.
The capital and largest city in Greenland, Nuuk is located in the south western part of the country. Typically considered to be the most cosmopolitan of Greenlandic cities, Nuuk is home to the Greenland National Museum, The University of Greenland and thriving culinary and music scenes.
The most visited destination in Greenland, Ilulissat boasts spectacular glacier views as a result of its location on the mouth of an icefjord that produces 20 million tons of ice each day. Ilulissat offers visitors a unique experience, combining stunning environs with luxury accommodations.
The hub for international flights, Kangerlussuaq is the first stop for any visitor to Greenland. However, dramatic views of the polar ice cap and exotic wildlife (including muskox, Arctic fox, and caribou) are just a short drive away.
Air Greenland offers direct flights between Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) and Greenland’s Kangerlussuaq Airport (SFJ) every Thursday between July 3, 2008 and August 14, 2008. Prices for the 5 hour flight begin at $1,100 including tax and charges.
Once in Greenland, travelers can connect from Kangerlussuaq to other cities, including Nuuk and Ilulissat by flying Air Greenland. As there are no roads between cities, this is the most time efficient means of travel. For more information about air travel to and in Greenland, please visit: www.AirGreenland.com
WHAT TO PACK
In the winter months, travelers should pack warm clothing that can be worn in multiple layers including thermal underwear and windproof pieces for braving the elements. In the summer, it is recommended that travelers bring a range of clothing options including pants, shorts, t-shirts, a fleece jacket, hat and sunglasses. It is also suggested that travelers bring insect repellent during warm weather months.
At the closest point, Greenland is only 16 miles from Canada
Greenland is situated north, south, east and west of Iceland
The length of Greenland is about equal to the distance between New York City and Denver.
The words Kayak, anorak and igloo are originally Greenlandic
There are over 29,000 sled dogs in Greenland and dogsleds have the right of way