Photo by Hotel Arctic
Greenland is the world’s largest island and geographically a part of the North American continent, but historically and politically a part of Europe and the Kingdom of Denmark. The settlement of Siorapaluk in Greenland is the Northernmost inhabited place in the world.
Trips to Greenland:
Greenland has arctic landscapes with precipitous cliffs, white ice and deep blue sea as well as lush sheep farms, hot springs and green mountains with beautiful wild flowers. A distinct cultural and climatic diversity shapes the way of living across the geographical vastness of the island. Greenland is also the country with the lowest population density and one of the smallest capitals in the world. The population is about 56,000 souls of which about 18,000 live in the capital Nuuk. The total size of Greenland is 2,166,086 km (836,330 sq mi). Greenland is known for the enormous ice sheet – an area of 1.8 million km² (695,000 sq mi) corresponds to 14 times the size of England. The ice-free area amounts to 350,000 km² (135,000 sq mi) – equivalent to the area of Germany.
The first people to set foot in Greenland arrived around 4-5000 years ago from the North American continent via Canada when the sea froze in the narrow strait at Thule in northern Greenland. No less than six different Inuit cultures have immigrated in several waves. Greenland’s population today is descended from the last immigration, the Thule culture, which arrived around the 9th century AD.
This final Inuit immigration took place at around the same time as the arrival in Greenland of the Norse settlers and Erik the Red, which was in 982 AD. This is described in detail in the Icelandic sagas. The Norse population disappeared from Greenland in around 1500 AD for reasons that have never been fully explained – although countless well-founded theories about their disappearance still flourish today. Many of the Norse settlers’ ruins are still visible on plains and mountain sides in South Greenland and at Nuuk.
You do not need a visa as a Dane, but if you come from a country from which a visa is required to enter Denmark, it should be noted that you are travelling on to Greenland. Remember to take your passport with you, as security regulations may require that you provide proof of identity both on arrival and on departure.
Visit this website and see if you need a visa to come to Greenland: New to Denmark.
Although rabies can be found in bats and other mammals in Greenland, it is not a major risk to most travelers. Recommended rabies vaccine for only these groups:
- Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities in remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites or other animal bites (polar foxes fx).
- People who will be working with or around animals (such as wildlife professionals and researchers).
In Greenland sudden changes in weather are common, and you have to be prepared for all types of weather when on an excursion. During the winter, temperatures range from minus 5° C to minus 30° C and in the summer from plus 5° C to plus 15° C. As the air in Greenland is very dry, temperatures do not feel as cold as in Europe.
In terms of communication, Greenland is a high-tech society. There are now more mobile network subscribers than fixed network subscribers. The mobile phone system in Greenland is GSM 900/1800, and with the exception of one or two settlements the system covers all the inhabited areas of Greenland. Tele Greenland has details about which countries have roaming agreements and with which phone companies. It is of course possible to communicate via SMS, MMS and GPRS.
Hotspots have been established in most major hotels so that you can access the Internet, and more and more hotels are also offering connections from their rooms. There are Internet cafés and wifi in the libraries in a number of the bigger towns and at several tourist offices it is also possible to check your webmail.
Read more about communications on Tele Greenland’s website: www.tele.gl
Greenland, like most other European countries, has 220-volt AC, 50Hz current and uses two-pin continental plugs.
The majority of Greenland’s nature is actual wilderness, with few or no paths, numerous mountains, rivers and glaciers. The very clear air means that it can be hard to judge distances; it is often a lot further to a given point than you might think. The terrain’s degree of difficulty varies from the very easy to the very challenging. It means there are options available for hiking tourists of all abilities. Both the laid-back pedestrian day-tripper and the experienced, well-trained hiker will find endless possibilities to explore the Greenlandic nature.
Everyone should be aware that help can be a long way away and that mobile phone coverage is rare when you are out in the heart of the wilderness. The weather is generally stable in the summer, but sudden weather changes can also occur. Thorough preparation is essential, as is having the right equipment and listening to the advice of those with local knowledge. Making and keeping agreements about expected news and return is equally important.
Greenland is part of the Danish national community, and a common currency is thus used, i.e. the Danish krone. There are banks in all major towns, and it is often possible to change money at hotels. In the major towns there may be a few places that accept foreign currency, but it is more the exception than the rule, and not surprisingly the exchange rate is rarely favourable.
In ATMs, which are found in all towns, you can withdraw Danish kroner (DKK) using the following credit cards:
Credit cards can be used at many hotels, restaurants and shops, but it is recommended that you bring a small amount of Danish kroner with you to Greenland, as some ATMs may not be in service at the weekend.
Prices in Greenland
It is fair to say that Greenland is self-sufficient with regard to fish, certain meat products and ice cubes. Everything else has to be imported by either ship or aircraft, and this of course has an impact on prices. Compared to Scandinavia, prices are approx. 10% higher, and alcohol, tobacco and fresh fruit and vegetables in particular are at the high end of the scale.
Naalakkersuisut is the Government of Greenland. The Parliament appoints the Premier, who then appoints her Cabinet of ministers. The Government is divided into ministries, each headed by a minister. In the ministries departments handle the practical administrative work. The ministers are politically responsible for the work of these departments.
The Government’s administration must be performed within the frameworks adopted by the Greenland Parliament in the form of acts and appropriations. The Greenland Parliament supervises the Cabinet’s work through, for example, audits of the Accounts of the Greenland Treasury. The Cabinet’s administration is also supervised by an ombudsman who keeps an eye on the Cabinet’s administration to ensure that it is in accordance with the legislation and good administration practice.
The Government must also comply with the Danish Constitution, Act on Greenland Self-Government and international conventions in its administration of the tasks of the Government of Greenland.
The prevailing religion in Greenland is Protestantism and Greenland is an independent diocese in the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church with a bishop appointed by Denmark.
However, there are other religions and faiths of beliefs such as the Roman Catholic Church, New Apostolic Church, the Evangelic Ebenezer, Bahá’í’s and Jehovas Witnesses.
Approximately 4-5.000 years ago the first Inuit migration took place and people living in Greenland today are descendents from the last migration (the Thule Culture) which took place around year 800 A.C. The Greenlanders call themselves “Kalaallit” and are an indigenous Inuit people: Inuit meaning “human being”. They constitute 85 % of the population while the remaining are primarily Danes. During and after colonial times a proportion of the Inuit intermarried with Europeans, why a lot the Greenlanders today can number Inuit and Europeans among their ancestors.
The Greenlandic language is a polysynthetic language and belongs to the Eskimo-Aleutic languages. This means that it differs strongly from the Indo-European languages like French, English and German. West Greenlandic is the official language but there are distinct dialects spoken in Eastern and Northern Greenland. Greenland is a bilingual country in which Greenlandic is the main language and Danish is the other. In official context both languages can be used.
The 2013 export in Greenland amounts to app. € 366 mio. with the main part (88 %) being fish and shellfish, making the Greenlandic economy fragile to international price fluctuations. In 2013 almost 47% of Greenland’s export came from cold water shrimp, 26% from halibut and 15% from other fish (namely cod and crabs). In 2013, 2% of the export derived from mining containing mainly gold and olivine.
Another important part of the Greenlandic economy is the annual block grant of app. € 470 mio. allocated to Greenland from the Danish State.
Greenland has an Arctic climate with average temperatures that do not exceed 10° C (50° F) in the warmest summer months. The air quality in Greenland is among the best in the world due to the country’s geographical position to the high north.
In the southern part of the country and the innermost parts of the long fjords, the temperature can, however, rise to more than 20° C (68° F) in June, July or August, and due to the fine air quality and low levels of moisture in the air, in general you are able to see very, very far.
The sea around Greenland affects the climate on land. The stretches of coastline close to the open sea, in particular, are cooled by the sea. Therefore during the summer months it is warmest and driest on land closest to the ice sheet. In all parts of the country the weather is locally changeable and can vary from fjord to fjord and from one valley to the next.
The air is generally very dry in Greenland in relation to many other countries, and because of this low humidity the low temperatures do not feel as cold as you might expect. On the other hand, the dry air means that you must drink more water than normal.
We strongly recommend travel insurance for each traveler. Travel insurance is not provided in your tour package.