A RELAXED AND UNPRETENTIOUS PEOPLE
There is a certain lightheartedness to how we approach life here in Greenland. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We understand how problems, big and small, need to be solved with whatever is available, and we prefer to understate dramas and events instead of making a big fuss about them.
We are often called hospitable, cheerful, and kind, but even if such universal traits will shape your experience of Greenlanders, we might be better characterized as adaptable, full of wanderlust, and culturally diverse.
“I visited a school in Ilulissat and met the teachers and a 2nd year class sang a song for me in Greenlandic, Danish, and English. The teacher of the class gave me a necklace she had carved from reindeer antler, and it is one of my favorite possessions!”
Most of us are familiar with an everyday rhythm of life that one moment sees us working in an office and minutes later has us standing in a small open boat.
CURIOUS AND VERSATILE GREENLANDERS
Scattered on a coastline as long as most of Europe we are fewer people than will fit into your average medium sized soccer field, and our spacious society is so deeply connected with the vagaries of nature that we have nothing but a shrug to give when weather forces us to change plans or wait for days on end.
We are urban in the country’s large towns, we are entrepreneurs, we are fishermen and hunters, and we love the outdoors and life at sea and in the mountains. We flock to every new café serving even just fairly decent coffee, paradoxically we might be the most ice-cream people in the world, we are exceptionally fond of swimming despite a clear lack of ability in the majority of the population, and most of us are familiar with an everyday rhythm of life that one moment sees us working in an office and minutes later we’re standing in a small open boat heading for adventure in the nearest fjord.
THE GRAND IS A PART OF EVERYDAY LIFE
We have a tendency to forget how obvious the drama becomes when you combine the climate and geography of Greenland, and sometimes that makes us slightly immune to the ever-present grandeur which you as a guest will probably notice before anything else.
And we can be almost careless in our mention of significant cultural and climatic events, as if the inherent powers of the land curb the need to use big words.
But conditions here are not inconceivably harsh and we live in neither peat houses nor igloos. Actually, in many ways we’re like any ordinary modern society. And it that sounds a bit bland we only have this to say: It is not! The climate, our cultural history, the flora, fauna, light, sounds, landscapes, language, and not least we as a people create a society that lends a unique edge to life in Greenland.
- Greenland has 56.300 inhabitants
- The country is 82% ice cap with a small strip of inhabitable land along the shorelines
- The land mass makes us the world’s 12th largest country, but at the same time we’re one of the sparsely populated places on the planet
- We live in small towns and villages and no roads connect the individual settlements
- Nuuk is one of the smallest capitals in the world with just 16,500 people
- About 90% of the population is of Greenlandic descent, while the remaining 10% are immigrants, mostly from Denmark, but increasingly also from the rest of the world
- The first language is Greenlandic, Danish is the official second language, and in the street you will even encounter Thai, Norwegian, Icelandic, Filipino, English, and other languages.
A COUNTRY IN CONSTANT CHANGE
Greenland exists in a constant state of change. From the first waves of immigration to the present-day cultural diversity, and our move towards independence, the country is characterized by people who have taken control of their own destinies.
At the moment we’re engaged in a discussion about the nature of Greenlandic identity, especially since it needs to have room for very different realities spanning large geographical and social distances. Also, we expend a great deal of energy on trying to meet up in a common project about where we, as a country, are going, and you will feel how this debate shapes us when you visit Greenland.
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