For those of you who are just getting on board, we’re don’t want to assume that you’re coming in with a wealth of knowledge about Greenland. Hey, we’re all learning here, so we’ll catch you up to speed…
So yes, Greenland is pretty far North, but it’s closer than you might think. Feel free to blame any misconceptions you might have about Greenland geography on the Mercator map projection, which severely distorts the Earth’s poles:
Ugh! Please erase that from you visual image memory. Not only is the size and shape distorted, but from the Mercator projection it’s hard to tell that Greenland is geographically closer to North America than to Europe. You can see it more clearly with Google Earth imagery:
- Greenland is the World’s largest island. Yup, that’s right, it’s #1! (And no, continents don’t count.)
- In a Greenland vs. Iceland showdown, the unsuspecting Greenland easily wins the “ice competition” – 80% of the island is covered by ice!
But, there’s more than ice …
- 57,000 people live in Greenland, 88% of whom are Inuit Greenlanders or Inuit-Danish.
- In fact, Greenland is the only Arctic Country where a more than half of the population is indigenous.
- This past summer solstice marked the 1 year anniversary of Greenland’s independence from Denmark (Happy Independence Day!)
- Greenlandic, or Kalaallisut, is the national language in Greenland. We, the IGERT fellows, have had a few lessons in which we’ve encountered the Greenlandic “lateral-L” (which sounds like a lisp, and is denoted by “ll,” as seen in “Kalaallisut”) and the “fish-bone-Q” (a Q, which seems to us more like the sound you might make when trying to force a fish bone out of your throat.) We are still stumbling through beginner phrases, but we can tell you that it requires a delicate control of salivary production and great discipline of wayward eyebrows.