Things You Should Know: 7 Facts About Greenland

February 26, 2015

As winter winds down, here are things you should know about the place where the season never quite ends.

  • Things You Should Know About GreenlandGreenland isn’t very green. According to legend, it was named to trick Viking raiders into going there instead of the comparatively rich hills and plains of Iceland.
  • The first inhabitants of Greenland were Paleo-Eskimo nomads, who arrived in about 2,500 B.C. Descendants shared the island with Viking leader Erik the Red and his descendants into the 13th century, but a “Little Ice Age” ravaged the island’s settlements 200 years later. Extreme famine reportedly led to the elderly and infirm being flung off cliffs in order to save food.
  • American troops were sent to protect Greenland from the Nazis in 1941. Two air bases were established and “Bluie” served as the island’s official codename during WWII.
  • Greenland has been a territory of Denmark since the 18th century, but in 2008, locals approved the Self-Government Act. This began a gradual process that will slowly enable the island to one day become its own sovereign nation.
  • Life in Greenland is pretty cold. Average January temperatures range from −22°F to −13°F. But in July, it shoots all the way up to 32. Frigid temperatures are thought to be one of the reasons why Greenland has the highest suicide rate on the planet.
  • The largest city and capital is Nuuk (population: 15,666). Nuuk is the native word for “cape,” because the city is on a cape.
  • Greenland has a thriving music scene that has yielded popular acts like Siissisoq, Chilly Friday and Nuuk Posse. (You probably haven’t heard of them, but they’re a very big deal in Greenland.)


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