141 Greenland Facts About The World's Largest Island

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Oct 17, 2022 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Dec 10, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Greenland facts are sure to astonish you.

As grass is not always green on the other side, so is the country of Greenland.

If you've thought Greenland is named after the lush greenery all around, then it is certainly not. It is a country full of glaciers bordering the Arctic Circle.

Apart from being the largest island in the world, this vast country has the largest glaciers in the world, known as Greenlandic glaciers. More than 80 percent of its land area is covered in permafrost.

It is almost three times the size of Texas. Interestingly, the Arctic Circle passes through Greenland, with two-thirds of its area lying above this latitude.

While the climate is mostly Arctic with frigid temperature conditions, the ice-free areas experience a tundra type of climate.

Covering a massive 836,330 sq mi (2,166,086 sq km), it hosts a feeble population of roughly 56,000 people, with the maximum living in the capital city. The country has a vast coastline as extensive as a complete circle across the earth's equator, measuring around 24,430 mi (39,330 km).

Want to uncover more fascinating Greenland facts? Read on to learn more about this country.

You can also check out exciting information from reading about Guinea facts and Honduras facts here.

Fun Facts About Greenland

See why knowing facts about Greenland is a lot more fun than you think.

While most of Greenland is covered in ice sheets, the size of the small non-frozen area is equivalent to the size of Norway, measuring about 158,495 sq mi (410,500 sq km). Its closest North American neighbor is the east coast of Canada, connected by a submarine ridge.

While on the west of Greenland, the closest country is Iceland in Europe.

Eric The Red, an Icelandic murderer, exiled to this vast land, named it Greenland, meaning the Land of People, but even to this day, it remains one of the least populous countries of the world.

The second-largest glacier in the world, Ilulissat Icefjord, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site found in Greenland and is around 400,000 to 800,000 years old. It is the largest in the northern hemisphere, having seven percent of the world's freshwater reserves, and comes second only to Antarctic ice sheets.

This vast Arctic island was a discovery of the Vikings in the 10th century. At the same time, the Inuit community of North America is known to be the first settlers of this country some 4,500 years ago.

Greenland's capital, Nuuk, is located on the country's west and hosts about 18000 of the country's total population. You might get confused about the time while traveling across the country as Greenland has three different time zones owing to its large areal extent.

Due to the lack of proper roads except in the capital and a few other towns, the best transportation means are air and water. Boat, dogsled, planes are the most commonly used modes of transportation.

Almost 88 percent of Greenlanders are of Inuit descent, which means nine out of 10 people inherit the Inuit culture. Only 12 percent of them are of European Danish origin.

This can be attributed to the first three waves of in-migration of the Inuit people and one of the Danish settlers. People speak Greenlandic and Danish as their native Greenlandic language and represent their official language, and some also speak English.

The currency of Greenland is called Danish Krone, and the national dish of the region is called 'suaasat,' a warm soup made of bird, reindeer, whale, or seal meat. While most people think "kayak" and "igloo" are English words, both are of Greenlandic origin.

Political Facts About Greenland

Apart from the scenic landscapes covered with thick ice sheets, Greenlandic culture is filled with enticing historical and political facts.

Greenland was first occupied by the Inuit settlers making their way from Canada. After that, the Danish of Europe's Denmark colonized the island from 1721-1953.

After its independence in 1953, it attained a country-like status. In 1979, home rule was given to Greenland, and finally, in 2009, it declared itself as a self-governing nation.

Although they are not members of the EU, they still maintain close ties with it through the participation of Denmark in the Commonwealth. Hence, it is now an autonomous country functioning as a parliamentary representative democratic dependency.

The prime minister is the Head of the Government, and the Danish Queen is the nominal head of the state. Self-governance is displayed by the parliamentary representation of 31 elected members, whereby the parliament is known as the Inatsisartut in Greenlandic.

An unconventional move for the love of acquiring more territory, the USA had offered Denmark $100,000,000 to persuade them to sell Greenland to the US.

Another important cultural site is the Hsvalsey Church of Greenland, a well-preserved ruins of the long-lost Norse people.

This church is said to be the oldest Christian church in the American continent, built by the Vikings in the 1300s, but after a battle with the Inuit people, the Danish of Denmark had to give away its ownership to the Inuits after their defeat.

However, although Greenland lies next to North America, its political ties are connected to Denmark in the present times.

Cool Greenland facts kids will enjoy reading.

Facts About Greenland's Ecosystem

This ice-covered beautiful island has a tremendous faunal diversity, supported by a well-balanced ecosystem.

As most parts of Greenland are covered with ice, the faunal and floral diversity is not much diversified. The frigid climate and permafrost ground restrict vegetation growth in most parts of the island.

However, a host of faunal species are found to exist atop the ice sheet. Lying in the Arctic zone, polar bears and Arctic hares are found atop the Greenland ice sheet.

Polar bears happen to be the top predators of the Greenland ice cap, feeding on seals, birds, and other animal species.

The fiords are home to seals and humpback whales between the ice floes. Several species of birds have also adapted to this icy-cold ecosystem, like the white-tailed eagle, Northern falcons, and puffins.

The oldest bird species in the world, the Great Northern Divers, also resides in the Greenlandic ice sheet. Since South Greenland is comparatively ice-free, the lands are filled with pastures and enabling sheep grazing.

Due to the lack of trees, the primary source of food for humans is the fish and birds of this island. Greenland has a history of hunting several species, starting with the Inuit hunters and continuing even today.

Fishing also accounts for the largest industry, owing to its long coastline around Southern Greenland, having access to the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. This unique icy ecosystem attracts tourists who can explore parts of Greenland on cruise ships and enjoy fun activities on board, like whale watching.

Facts About Greenlands Weather

The weather of Greenland is highly influenced by a host of factors like latitudinal position, nearness to the seas and oceans, and the influence of solar radiation reaching the island.

Since location plays a significant role in determining the climate of a region, the Arctic Circle passing through Greenland has divided the island into two climates. Mainly a high tundra climate covered with ice fields and permafrost and a low tundra climate found along the southern coasts of Greenland.

As Greenland lies in the frigid zone, the sun's rays fall slantingly, forming ice sheets. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the northern hemisphere was found in northern Greenland in 1991, with temperatures dipping to -93.3 F (-69.6 C).

Every year in the summer season, the sun does not set at the horizon for an entire month from 25th May to 25th June, with no occurrence of day and night. This phenomenon displayed by the sun has got it the name of the Midnight Sun.

All Greenlanders hit the streets on 21st June as it is a national holiday of Greenland, enjoying the summer solstice with the longest day of the year. The warmest summer temperatures do not rise beyond 39.2 F (4 C).

Winters in Greenland are extremely harsh, with temperatures always remaining under sub-zero conditions.

The surreal natural phenomenon called the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights can be seen from Greenland. The long and cold winter nights with clear cloudless skies favor the occurrence and clear visibility of the picturesque northern lights from here.

As Seas and oceans cover southern Greenland on all sides, its coasts get influenced by the maritime effect of the water bodies. Also, as it lies below the Arctic Circle, some portions remain ice-free until winters.

Global warming and climate change is becoming a significant problem in glacier-filled Greenland. The snow-eating warmth is melting away most of the glaciers and threatening animals like polar bears and seals. Research by Nature Climate Change suggests, over 10 billion tons of ice cover have been lost from the northeastern Greenland ice sheet since 2003.

Did You Know?

Almost 2.5 million years ago, Greenland was actually green and ice-free. Only after the cryogenic processes began acting upon the dirt particles that the ice covers and glaciers came into being.

Many hot springs are warm enough to let people take cozy warm baths in them.

The North Pole is only 459 mi (740 km) away from Cape Morris Jessup, the northernmost point of Greenland.

Canada is the closest neighboring country, only 16 miles (26 km) away from Greenland.

The Northeast Greenland National Park covering the Greenland Ice Sheet is the world's largest national park.

A new sub island called the Uunartoq Qeqertaq was discovered in 2007, which was uncovered from underneath the glaciers due to its rapid melting. It acquired global recognition from the Oxford Atlas of the World as Place of the Year, 2007.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created many interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 141 Greenland Facts About The World's Largest Island, then why not take a look at Hungary facts or Iceland facts?

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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