Greenland has been increasing in popularity as the ultimate travel destination for many adventurers and wanderers. It is easily one of the most beautiful places on the planet and offers several unique experiences to those who visit.
With heavenly sky views and mesmerizing encounters with nature, Greenland is one of the most isolated places on Earth. Therefore, it offers one of the most authentic and unfiltered experiences that this planet has to offer.
That is why it is the ultimate destination on the bucket of most travelers. The wonders offered by Greenland are tremendous, and if you had never thought of visiting before, this article will certainly change your mind. Keep reading below to learn the 12 most fascinating Greenland facts that you might never have heard before.
Facts about Greenland
1. Greenland is 80% Ice
For a country with “Green” in its name, the astonishing thing about Greenland is that it is 80% covered in ice. In fact, the “inland ice” of Greenland is the second largest ice cover in the world, only behind Antarctica. The ice can be as thick as 3,500 m in some regions of the island. It surely is a sight to behold when one flies over this magnificent land.
2. Largest Non-Continental Island on Earth
Did you know that no island on Earth is as big as Greenland, except continents? It is so huge that it makes up one-third the size of the Australian continent or the land of the United States. Greenland is also the 12th largest country in the world, so be prepared to cover a wide area of land on your visit there.
3. Lowest Population Density in the World
Greenland has the lowest population density for any country in the world. Compared to its vast area, it has a very small population. Only 56,000 people live in the entire country, which means it has a population density of only 0.03 people per square kilometer.
Moreover, the population is also not distributed evenly, which means most of the country is empty and isolated. You won’t even find much hustle-bustle in the capital. It is an ideal place for anyone looking for solitude or closeness with nature.
4. The Largest National Park is in Greenland
Another fascinating fact about Greenland is that it is home to the largest national park on earth. The island’s entire north-eastern part was designated as a massive national park in 1974. It is a vast sanctuary for diverse arctic wildlife.
You are required to obtain formal permission from the Greenland Government to access these protected areas. So, if you’re passionate about national parks, nature in its raw form, or the wonders of the arctic wildlife, then this experience is well worth the trouble.
5. Only One Non-Coastal Town in the Entire Country
You might be astonished to find out that for such a huge country, Greenland only has one town that is not located on the coast. The main reason behind this is the snow cover that prevails even throughout summer. Therefore, most people settle near the coast where the temperature is relatively warmer.
The name of the town is Kangerlussuaq, which translates to “big fjord.” Since the town is 160 km away from the fringes of the country, it has one of the coldest temperatures on the island. The town is also one of the endpoints of a famous trek called the Arctic Circle Trail.
6. The Name was a Marketing Ploy
By now, you might be wondering why such an ice-covered country was named “Greenland.” What may not be surprising is that it was a marketing stunt by an exiled Viking named Eric the Red, who wanted people to go with him to the island and establish towns and new settlements.
However, it is also important to note that the Southern region where Eric the Red settled is incredibly green during the summers, so it wasn’t entirely a lie on his part.
The original name that natives use for the country is “Inuit Nunaat,” which means the “land of the people.” Some even call it “Kalaallit Nunaat”, which translates to “country of the Greenlanders”.
7. Greenland doesn’t have Roads that Connect its Towns
A strange fact about Greenland is that it doesn’t really have a comprehensive road system. Since most of its terrain is rugged, the road system in the country is very limited.
Due to expansive ice sheets and small and scattered populations, most roads just end at the outskirts of the respective towns. That is also the reason why cars are not a common sight in the country.
The longest road in Greenland is 35 km. It runs from a research center called Kellyville, passes through Kangerlussuaq, and ends at the Greenland Ice Sheet. The road was constructed by Volkswagen to build their cold car test track on the inland ice. Currently, it is used by scientists and tourists alike to get easy access to the ice cap.
8. Hunters Still Use Sled Dogs for Transport
Remember the scenes in Narnia with characters traveling on the sled dog carriage? Well, that is still a thing in Greenland. Dogsledding is an active part of the Greenlandic lifestyle and culture. Hunters use sled dogs as a means of transport during the winter.
Although more and more people are adopting snowmobiles to travel, dog sledding is still an integral part of the culture and you should certainly try it when you’re visiting as a tourist for a full cultural experience.
9. The Purest Water & Air Quality in the World
Because of natural preservation in this country, the air and water are found in their purest form in Greenland.
The main reasons behind this are a very low population and a small number of cars and industries. The air is as fresh as it gets and you can drink from any river or stream without needing a filter.
So, make sure you clear your lungs deeply and appreciate its pure water while you are there.
10. More Boats than Cars
Another fascinating fact about Greenland is that it is more common for people to have boats than cars there.
As we learned that the roads are limited in the country, boats are a more common medium of transport. It is also because most settlements are along the coast, so people prefer to move around on their boats. In some settlements, you might not even see a single car.
So, don’t be surprised when you encounter more boats by the shoreline than cars on the roads.
11. You can only Enter Greenland Via Iceland or Denmark
Although Greenland has an airport and is part of the North American continent, it is still not possible to fly there directly from the US currently.
All flights into Greenland have to go to Reykjavik or Copenhagen first in order to access the entry to Greenland.
12. Greenland has Viking Ruins
Another amazing fact about Greenland is that you’ll be able to see the remains of Viking ruins in the Southern region as well as the West Coast. Many of these sites are accessible near Qaqortoq, Qassiarsuk, and Igaliku.
Still unsure whether choosing Greenland as your next destination would pay off? Check out a glimpse of what you can expect in this video:
Video: Greenland – The Largest Island in the World
Greenland is truly a wonder of the world when it comes to the diverse landscape, rare arctic wildlife, and fascinating culture. Be sure to visit to catch some beautiful northern light views.
Hi I’m Jay. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and live in Los Angeles, California. I have travelled to 23 countries so far and planning to go explore more countries soon! My Favorite trips so far have been to Israel, Japan, Rome, Iceland and Australia. I started this site to share my love of travel with everyone and build a community of like-minded, free thinking, free exploring people.