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2022-09-05 18:47:55

How people live in Greenland

How people live in Greenland

Greenland is the largest island on the planet, but it is inhabited by only 55 thousand people, since almost all of its vast territory is covered with ice. Such a climatic feature forces local residents to arrange their life, which has many differences from the rest of Europe and Denmark, of which the island is a part.


Transport system

The main means of transport in Greenland is not cars and trains, but animal-drawn sleds as well as snowmobiles. The island even has a corresponding sign warning motorists about the possible appearance of a sled driver.

Since the beginning of the XXI century, the population of sled dogs on the island has more than halved. Dog-drawn sleighs were replaced by snowmobiles, but dog sledding has been preserved as a local tradition. On the sleigh ride joyful tourists during excursions, as well as locals who arrange races. Dogs here do not have the status of a pet - they are kept on the street in special enclosures, from puppyhood they are trained to walk in a sled with other dogs, and feed them mainly raw fish. Tourists are not allowed to feed dogs and pet them, as they are not used to communicating with strangers and can even bite.

On the island there is a special taxi - boats. A local company bought small boats, painted in a characteristic yellow color with a black and white cage and rolls tourists on them, showing icebergs and beautiful landscapes of eternal winter.

Roads in Greenland are paved, however, to get from one inhabited to another, you will often have to use either a sleigh or snowmobile, or a helicopter.

Traditional cuisine

The harsh climate of Greenland allows locals to prepare delicious dishes from locally produced products and meat. In a traditional soup called suaasat , Greenlanders put seal meat. Sometimes the composition of the dish can be changed, and instead of a seal, either seabird fillet or even whale meat is used! In addition to meat, in the soup there are potatoes, onions, black pepper, bay leaf, rice or barley acts as a filler, which is soaked overnight before cooking.

Locals love to cook cutlets from minced musk ox - an animal that has lived on the lands of the Arctic for many thousands of years. 

An unusual but popular dish in Greenland is maktak – whale skin with fat on it. It is usually consumed raw, but for unprepared tourists it can marinate. Maktak is saturated with vitamin C - 38 milligrams of the substance are concentrated in 100 grams of the product. Arctic scientists during their expeditions ate maktak to prevent the spread of scurvy. Surprisingly, in taste and smell, this dish is more like hazelnuts, and not the usual lard!

Seafood islanders actively use and eat. For example, for breakfast, they often roast a bagel with halibut meat.

Among tourists, the dessert akutak is popular - ice cream, in which melted water from an iceberg is added. Many Greenlanders have lactose intolerance, so there is no cow's milk in the local ice cream - it is replaced by a soy analogue.

The islanders have their own special holiday - Kaffemik. People gather for a cup of coffee, bake a pie with water berries, have fun and exchange news. For Kaffemik to be announced, you do not need a good reason: it can be the beginning of school, a birthday, the birth of babies and so on.

National dress

Previously, Greenlanders traditionally wore clothes made from animal skins. When the island became part of the European world, the locals received fabrics and began to sew elegant clothes from them, decorating clothes with beads. According to tradition, the Greenlander receives his elegant costume on the 13th birthday: throughout his life he will be dressed in this outfit on special days, for example, for a wedding or anniversary.

Men's national costume is distinguished by functionality and practicality. It consists of anorak, which is made of wool, silk, canvas or satin. Often, side pockets and a hood are sewn to the anorak, which are not decorated with patterns. The main part of the women's outfit is pants: their length reaches strictly to the place where the boot ends.

The elderly inhabitants of the island wear costumes made of the skins of local animals, which were killed on their own during the hunt. It could be a seal or a polar bear. Not only men hunt here, but also women: girls often gather in companies and go together for prey.

Interesting facts about life in Greenland

  • One of the most popular souvenirs brought from the island are tupilaks – ritual figures made from the bones of animals killed for the purpose of hunting or obtaining skins. These figurines of the characters are depicted during magical rituals or hunting. The appearance of tupilaks is bizarre and will become a good subject for memory.
  • The local language is spoken by all the inhabitants of Greenland. Mastering it is not an easy task, because there are many long words in the local dictionary. They are lengthened because of suffixes and prefixes so that one word can act as a whole sentence.
  • There are as many as 2 golf courses on the island, despite the harsh climate. These courses are recognized as the most remote golf courses in the world.
  • In the capital of Greenland with the name Nuuk, which is the northernmost in the world, sometimes it is warm. The maximum temperature recorded in the city in the summer is plus 21 degrees Celsius.
  • Greenland has its own color code, according to which buildings are painted to dilute the white landscapes of glaciers. Shops and churches are open in red houses, and priests and shop owners can live in them. Hospitals and medical personnel live in the yellow houses. In the blue buildings there are fishing huts, in the black - police stations, and in the green there are points of communication with the outside world.
  • The main international airport of the island is not located in the capital. The airport terminal is located in the city of Kangerlussuaq - the place where the weather is most stable in Greenland.
  • There are almost no cloudy days on the island, and 300 days a year there is a clear sky. This is a plus for travelers who can come here almost all year round to admire the northern lights.
  • In Greenland, there is a period when the sun does not set: it is called the polar day and lasts from May 25 to June 25. In honor of the event, there is even a holiday celebrating the longest day of the year. It is celebrated on June 21.
  • Visitors to the island and locals love to visit the hot springs. The warmest are located on the territory of the island of Huunartok: the local water warms up to 37 degrees. The island can also offer beautiful landscapes of icebergs and ancient ruins of an Inuit city.
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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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