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Useful Notes / Greenland

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Hägar: So this is Greenland... I wonder who named it?
Lucky Eddie: Probably a real-estate agent.

Greenland (Greenlandic: Kalaallit Nunaat, Danish: Grønland), owned by Denmark, is a huge overseas territory in North America and the largest island on Earth, home to a mere 56,000 people. Often cited for the extreme temperatures that it can reach, Greenland is home to the northernmost piece of land on Earth, Kaffeklubben Island.

The island was first settled in the 3rd millennium BCE by the Paleo-Eskimo, chiefly the Dorset culture, who journeyed from what is now Northern Canada. However, they are not the ancestors of the current indigenous people of Greenland, the Greenlandic Inuit. The Inuit are instead descended from the 13th century Thule culture, who introduced such technological innovations as toggling harpoons (used in seal hunting and whaling) and dogsleds. The Thule almost immediately displaced the Dorset in Greenland, but the latter actually survived for a couple more centuries in Canada.

The Europeans discovered Greenland in the late 10th century. Leif Erikson's father, Erik the Red, established the island's first Norse settlement and the explorer himself grew up and died in Greenland. The Norse settlements submitted to Norway in 1261. By the 15th century, the island's entire Norse population had disappeared for a reason yet to be confirmed. The most accepted theory is that a sudden drop in global temperature killed off harvests and livestock; the Norse were either too afraid or too cocky to ask the more experienced Inuit for help, so eventually they perished or left. The island was not colonized by the Europeans again until the 18th century. By this time, Norway was ruled by Denmark, so the claim of the lost settlements went to the latter, hence why the island is currently Danish.

Like Iceland, Greenland escaped the Nazi German occupation of Denmark during World War II. While Iceland was occupied by Britain, Greenland was occupied by the United States. Unlike Iceland, it returned to Danish rule after the war's end, despite several attempts by the US government to purchase Greenland.

The southwestern area of Greenland is by far the most populated, the northeastern half taken up mostly by Greenland's national park. Roughly ninety percent of Greenland is taken up by the Greenland ice sheet, the second largest ice sheet on Earth (just behind Antarctica).

Contrary to popular belief, Greenland is not just ice. It is actually made up of three significantly large islands under the ice sheet.

The capital and largest city is Nuuk (known in Danish as Godthåb). However, "largest" is a relative term, because Nuuk is in fact the smallest capital city of any country in the world (as of 2018, the city has a population of around 18,000).

Whilst part of the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland is an autonomous country with its own separate government, much like the Faroe Islands.

Greenland in media:

Film - Live Action

  • Ivalu is a short film about a girl on Greenland who goes looking for her older sister Ivalu when Ivalu goes missing.
  • Greenland is a disaster movie in which a family goes to Greenland to take shelter after a comet hits the Earth.
  • Qivitoq is an Oscar-nominated movie about a Danish woman who goes to Greenland to surprise her doctor fiancée, and is herself surprised to find him having an affair with a nurse. She sets out to leave, only to fall in love with the Danish manager of a fishing station.
  • In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty the title character travels to Greenland to track down legendary photographer Sean O'Connell.note Greenland is described in the film as only being home to 8 people, which is demonstrated when Walter only sees 8 different people while in Greenland.


  • Several Icelandic sagas are set partially or wholly in the Norse settlements in Greenland:
    • The Saga of the Sworn Brothers: The later part of the saga takes place mostly in Norse Greenland of the 1020s, where Thormod goes to avenge his sworn brother Thorgeir, who has been killed by Thorgrim Troll, one of the most powerful men in Greenland.
    • "The Tale of Einar Sokkason" tells of a feud in 12th century Greenland involving Arnaldur, the first bishop of Greenland.
  • Children of Mother Earth is a futuristic novel set in a time after climate change has made Greenland fertile and prosperous.

Live-Action TV

  • In episode 1.4 of Borgen, a scandal regarding the use of Greenland as a stop in the transport of American prisoners, leads Birgitte to fly to Greenland and conference with the PM of Greenland.
    • Season 4 of Borgen has an extended plot thread related to Greenland, in which the discovery of oil deposits on the island triggers a controversy on just who will develop the oil field, and how much.
  • Season 6 of Vikings features the discovery and naming of Greenland.


  • The traditional sea song "Greenland Whale Fisheries" tells of a whaling accident in the Greenland sea which takes the lives of several whalers (supposedly commemorating an event of the first half of the 19th century, though different versions of the song give differing dates). In the last stanze the dejected whalers sum up their impression of Greenland as a bleak and inhospitable place.
    Oh Greenland is a barren land,
    a land that bears no green!
    Where there's ice and snow and the whalefishes blow
    and the daylight's seldom seen.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Phineas and Ferb has an episode that takes place in Canada and has a villain from Greenland. Professor Bannister is from Greenland, and he hates the National Anthem, and lack of pride. So, he wanted to actually steal the country of Canada. He joined the villain organization L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N., hired three burglars to steal some parts from Seattle to make statues of him, and even plotted to steal the moose from Canada to transfer it to Greenland. He even wrote a new national anthem for it. Doofenshmirtz had to turn down the offer, because "The plan is unnecessarily complicated, and doesn't work." And during the credits, Major Monogram apologizes on behalf of the series for all the negative Greenland stereotypes, and yet, makes no mention of all the Canadian stereotypes.

The Greenlandic flag
The white and red bands are based on the Danish flag, but also symbolize ice and the ocean, respectively. At off-center (towards the hoist) is a disk, in which both colors are reversed, reminiscent of the sun setting over the horizon.

The Greenlandic regional anthem
Nunarput, utoqqarsuanngoravit
Niaqqut ulissimavoq qiinik.
Qitornatit kissumiaannarpatit
Tunillugit sineriavit piinik.

Akullequtaasut merlertutut
Ilinni perortugut tamaani
Kalaallinik imminik taajumavugut
Niaqquit ataqqinartup saani.

Taqilluni naami atunngiveqaaq
Kalaallit siumut makigitsi.
Inuttut inuuneq pigiuminaqaaq
Saperasi isumaqaleritsi.

Vort ældgamle land under isblinkens bavn
med lysende snehår om dit hoved!
Du trofaste moder, som bar os i din favn,
mens dine kysters rigdom du os loved.

Som halvvoksne børn er vi groet af din jord
og trygt vokset op blandt dine fjelde,
vi kalder os kalaallit i landet, hvor vi bor
ærbødigt for dit hvide åsyns ælde.

Umuligt nu længer at blive i ro,
kalaallit, mod større mål vi stævner.
Som fribårne folk vi i landet vil bo;
begynd at tro på jeres egne evner.

Our country, which has become so old
your head is all covered with white hair.
Always held us, your children, in your bosom
and gave us the riches of your coasts.

As middle children in the family
we blossomed here
Kalaallit, we want to call ourselves
before your proud and honourable head.

Humbleness is not the course,
Kalaallit wake up and be proud!
A dignified life is our goal;
courageously take a stand

  • Devolved government within a parliamentary constitutional monarchy
    • Monarch: Margrethe II
    • High Commissioner: Mikaela Engell
    • Premier: Múte Bourup Egede
    • Speaker of the Inatsisartut: Hans Enoksen

  • Capital and largest city: Nuuk
  • Population: 56,081
  • Area: 2,166,086 km² (836,330 sq mi)
  • Currency: Danish krone (kr.) (DKK)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: GL
  • Country calling code: 299