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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
Considering the enormous size of Greenland ,
it is surprising how easily most people forget
that it even exists. This northern giant ranks
low in popularity due to the harsh climate,
darkness, isolation, and difficulty of reaching
Greenland in the first place.

However, in recent years, the island has
attracted more tourists and businesses than
ever before. Some businesses have realized
that there is a lot more to Greenland than
snow and ice. And tourists have figured out
that the island’s history, culture, and natural
beauty are just a few of its fascinating

10 Geography

Greenland is considered to be an
independent territory within the Kingdom of
Denmark. Although Greenland mostly
operates on its own, it still relies on
Denmark for some things, such as security
and a substantial subsidy which supplies
nearly 60 percent of government revenues.

With an area of 2.2 million square
kilometers (0.84 million mi ), Greenland is
the largest island in the world. Due to a
relatively small population of fewer than
57,000 people, it also has the world’s lowest
population density. Around 30 percent of the
population lives in the capital city of Nuuk.
Approximately 80 percent of Greenland is
covered in ice. All the cities are built on the
coastline because that is the only ice-free
area. Despite its relations with Europe,
Greenland is geographically considered to be
a part of North America.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Greenland - Books/Literature/Writing

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
9 Inhabitants

Greenland has two primary languages —
Greenlandic and Danish. Greenlandic
contains many long words and difficult
pronunciations which makes it one of the
hardest languages to learn. The island is
called Kalaallit Nunaat (“land of the people”)
in Greenlandic.
The native inhabitants of Greenland are
called Greenlandic Inuits. Today, roughly 80
percent of Greenland’s population is of Inuit
or mixed Inuit and Danish heritage.
Foreigners often mistake them for Eskimos,
which some of the inhabitants find offensive.
The southwest coast, where most of the
Greenlanders live, averages 10 degrees
Celsius (50 °F) during the warmest months
of summer. Meanwhile, winter temperatures
in the area tend to average -8 degrees
Celsius (18 °F). Northern Greenland is much
colder in comparison.
Greenlandic Inuits are extremely reliant on
fishing, whaling, sealing, and hunting for
survival. In many villages, successful hunters
are seen as heroes. A large catch or a rare
polar bear kill receives high praise and is a
cause for celebration. Luckily, the cold
climate and isolation have not stopped the
locals from feeling genuine affection for the
land on which they live.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Greenland - Books/Literature/Writing

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
8 World’s Largest National Park

Two ministries concerned with housing,
hunting, agriculture, fisheries, and
environment share the duty of nature
conservation in Denmark and Greenland. The
departments cooperate in regulating the
exploitation of natural resources and
ensuring the safety of protected areas.
The Northeast Greenland National Park was
established in 1974. Later, in 1988, it was
expanded to its current world record–
holding size of 0.97 million square
kilometers (0.38 million mi ). The park
protects vast areas of the Greenland ice
sheet along with many animal species that
live there, including the polar bear, arctic
fox, arctic hare, beluga whale, walrus, and
snowy owl.
Currently, the most significant threat to the
park is climate change. Rapidly melting snow
is likely to cause a dangerous sea level
increase. Apart from that, the park is
relatively safe as most human interference
has been kept away by its inaccessibility.
However, humans are not entirely absent.
Researchers are drawn to this region and
carry out various scientific surveys and
expeditions. Some tourists also wish to
explore the park themselves. But the only
people with regular access are sealers and
whalers from Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the
most remote towns in Greenland.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Greenland - Books/Literature/Writing

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
7 Named By Vikings

The history of how Greenland received its
name is a little sketchy, but it is widely
believed that the island was named by
Vikings. Or one Viking in particular—Erik the
Red. It was rumored that he discovered
Greenland after being exiled from Iceland
for committing murder.
Although Erik the Red was probably not the
first person to discoverer the island, he was
definitely the first settler and survived there
for several years. Once his exile expired, Erik
wanted to attract more settlers. It may be
challenging to convince someone to travel to
a cold, barren, and inhospitable land.
According to popular legend, that is why Erik
painted the island as a wonderful place to
settle and called it Greenland.
There are other theories about how
Greenland got its name. One suggests that
the “green” part of Greenland is a translation
error. Some think the island was actually
named “Gruntland” instead, which would
translate to “Ground Land” in English.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Greenland - Books/Literature/Writing

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
6 Largest And Best-Preserved Pre-Columbus Building Remains In The Americas

Greenland is also home to the Hvalsey
Church, one of the first Christian churches in
North America. There were 10–14 churches
built in Greenland within a couple of
centuries of the first settlers’ arrival. The
Hvalsey Church, constructed in the early
14th century, is currently the largest and
best-preserved pre-Columbian European
building in the Americas.
The church used to be an impressive building
with two stone halls and 14 nearby stone
houses. It seems like several skilled masons
were brought to the Hvalsey Fjord to create
this masterpiece. Only the best materials
were chosen and worked with great
precision. The biggest granite pieces used in
the construction are heavier than five tons.
Some structural details, such as wider inner
than outer window openings, are more
characteristic of early churches in Britain.
That has led experts to believe that some of
the construction may have been managed by
Scottish masons rather than Icelandic ones.
However, one serious mistake was made. The
church was built on a graveyard without
prior removal of graves, which later made
the foundation sink and the walls collapse.
Today, the abandoned Hvalsey serves as a
grazing area for sheep. The church ruins
were conserved in 1999 to prevent further
foundation sinkage.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Greenland - Books/Literature/Writing

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
5 No Roads

Greenland is not an easy place to reach.
Since there is no international ferry service,
the most common way of getting there is by
plane. Only four cities worldwide have a
direct flight connection to Greenland. Three
of them—Reykjavik, Keflavik, and Akureyri—
are located in Iceland. Denmark’s capital,
Copenhagen, is the fourth. The island can
also be reached by expedition cruises from
the Canadian Arctic or Svalbard, Norway.
Once in Greenland, transportation does not
become any easier. There are virtually no
roads between towns, no railways, and no
inland waterways. All transportation is done
by helicopter, plane, boat, or dogsled.
Due to considerable distances and physical
barriers such as ice and fjords, most of the
traveling happens by air. The biggest
transportation hub is located in
Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland. An extensive
network of domestic flight connections is
available there.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Greenland - Books/Literature/Writing

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
4 Ice Golf World Championship

Since 1997, the World Ice Golf
Championship has been held every year in
Uummannaq, Greenland. The town is located
600 kilometers (373 mi) north of the Arctic
Circle and houses roughly 1,300 people.
Uummannaq is the northernmost golf course
in the world and gets redesigned on shelf ice
just before the competition each year.
The course is surrounded by slow-moving
glaciers and huge icebergs . During March,
when the championship is held, the
temperature can drop as low as -25 Celsius
(-13 °F). However, the freezing environment
has failed to discourage golfers around the
world from participating in the annual event.
Both professional golfers and amateurs can
participate, but the field is limited to only
36 players.
A search for different golf environments has
been a popular trend for many years. That
trend was recognized by the World Ice Golf
Championship founders. “The interest in
playing golf in spectacular surroundings is
growing, and though the course is a little
shorter, the holes a little larger, the ball is
orange, and the green is white—it is just like
regular golf.”

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
3 Midnight Sun

The midnight Sun is a summer phenomenon
which can only be experienced north of the
Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic
Circle. Not only is the Sun up at midnight,
but it shines for 24 hours straight, erasing
the line between night and day. Summers are
brief, so Greenlanders make sure to enjoy
the sunlight while it lasts. They catch fish,
barbecue, sail, and play.
The Arctic Circle marks the boundary of the
midnight Sun. Every year, there is one day on
the Arctic Circle itself where half an hour of
midnight Sun can be experienced. The same
rules apply to the opposite phenomenon—
polar night.
Farther north, the phenomenon lasts
significantly longer. For example, more than
two months of midnight Sun can be typically
observed in Ilulissat. And in Qaanaaq, the
Sun does not set for three and a half months
Nights in Greenland are bright during
summer even south of the Arctic Circle.
Although the midnight Sun does not shine in
Nanortalik, the southernmost town in
Greenland, up to 20 hours of sunlight are
still reported.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Greenland - Books/Literature/Writing

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
2. Abundance Of Gems And Minerals

Every cloud has a silver lining, including
climate change. At least, that is the case for
Greenland’s chances of financial
independence. The thick ice sheets that
covered a lot of the island 20 years ago are
melting away and revealing a land rich in
minerals, metals, and gems. Angel Mining,
the first mining company in Greenland,
began operating there in 2010.
Based on official data from 2017, there are
56 active licenses for gold, ruby, diamond,
nickel, copper, and other mineral
explorations in the island. Plans for building
the fifth-largest uranium mine in the world
have been steadily moving along for several
years since 2013 when the Greenland
parliament voted to remove the ban on
uranium mining.
Bluejay Mining is another company that
intends to establish a massive mining
operation in the former settlement of
Dundas, Greenland. After three years of
fieldwork studies, the final stages of
permitting were entered in November 2018.
Dundas is the world’s highest-grade deposit
of ilmenite. Ilmenite is used in
manufacturing titanium dioxide, which is
then used as a pigment in paint as well as
personal care products such as toothpaste.
Some companies have already seen their first
payoff. The Danish retailer Hartmann’s
Jewellery launched a full jewelry collection
using Greenlandic gems in November 2018.
Roughly 300 carats of rubies and pink
sapphires were used.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Greenland - Books/Literature/Writing

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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.
1 World’s Highest Suicide Rate

On a much darker note, Greenland also
holds the unfortunate record for the highest
suicide rate on Earth. The average annual
suicide rate in Greenland is 83 suicides per
100,000 people. For comparison, the suicide
rate in 2016 was 13.7 suicides per 100,000
people in the US and 30.2 suicides per
100,000 people in Guyana, the country with
the highest suicide rate.
Just to be clear, Greenland has the highest
suicide rate. But it is an independent
territory within the Kingdom of Denmark,
not a country. That’s why Guyana is
considered to be the country with the
highest suicide rate.
Greenland’s staggering numbers in a
population of fewer than 57,000 people
make it fairly safe to say that everyone in
Greenland knows someone who has killed
themselves. But the cold and dark
environment does not appear to be the real
When the first fish processing factories
appeared in Greenland, many people moved
from their villages for work. Kangeq was one
of those villages, too small for a factory of
their own with only around 150 inhabitants.
By 1974, only 50 or 60 people remained in
the village.

The Danish government made a practical
decision, saving time and money by shutting
down the power and erasing Kangeq from
the map. Providing basic services like health
clinics and schools to every tiny village was
not a viable option. So everyone had to pack
up their belongings and move to their new
home in Nuuk, where hundreds of families
from dozens of other small villages were
forced to reside.
There was an immediate clash of cultures.

The luxurious concrete apartment blocks felt
foreign and lonely to the Inuits. The paved
roads only separated them from the hunting
life on which they had depended for
survival. Some Inuits were hunting seals in
the Nuuk harbor next to cargo ships and
dragging the meat to their flats on sleds. At
school, it was clear that Danish speakers
were better than Greenlandic speakers.
Village kids were inferior to city kids.
Psychologists believe that the contagion
effect plays a major part in Greenland’s
suicide rate. When close family members or
friends kill themselves, people around them
are at greater suicide risk. Many such suicide
clusters have been recorded in Greenland,
especially in small and isolated communities.

Even Tasiilaq, the town with the highest
suicide rate in Greenland with more than 400
suicides per 100,000 people, does not have
a psychologist. It is estimated that it would
take at least 20 years to fix all the underlying
problems such as joblessness, poverty, child
neglect, and alcoholism to get Greenland’s
suicide problem under control.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Greenland - Books/Literature/Writing

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