In this video, we are going to take a quick look at 10 interesting facts coming to us all the way from Greenland. From having the 2nd largest ice sheet, to the largest national park, Greenland is another one of those beautiful countries that you must see to believe.
If you enjoy using the websites Facebook, Yahoo or Wikipedia, just to name a few, then you can thank a Greenlandic Programmer by the name of Rasmus Lerdorf. He was accredited for creating the programming language known as PHP in 1994, which as of 2013, 230 million websites, or 39% of those polled, are built using this language. Lerdorf’s career didn’t stop there; he was also the Infrastructure Architecture Engineer for “Yahoo” between 2002 and 2009, in 2010 he joined “WePay” in order to develop their application programming interface, in 2012 he announced he was joining “Etsy”, and in 2013 he joined “Jelastic” as a senior advisor.
World’s Largest National Park
Northeast Greenland National Park was established on May 22nd, 1974 when the Greenlandic Council and Danish Environmental Ministry decided to transform the uninhabited part of Greenland into a national park, giving it fame as the northernmost in the world and also, the largest. The site was expanded even further, and now protects over 970,000 square kilometers or 375,000 square miles of land. This area of coverage is so broad in fact that it is larger than all but thirty countries worldwide. Northeast Greenland National Park is so large, it is seventy-seven times larger than Yellowstone National Park, one of the most popular in the world. Numerous polar bears, walruses, and musk oxen can be found near the coastal regions. What may strike you as most interesting is that it claims nearly half the world’s population of musk ox; this can be attributed to how well protected they are within the parks confines.
One of the more well-known folks from this area is Knud Rasmussen, a Dutch polar explorer and anthropologist born in 1879. He has became known as “The Father of Eskimology” and is also the first European to cross the Northwest Passage by means of a dog sled. One of the other better-known Greenlanders is Henrik Lund, who was born in 1875 and made a career out of being a lyricist, painter, and even as a priest. He also wrote the lyrics for a piece which was later adopted as Greenland’s national anthem.
The Vikings set foot on Greenland and parts of Canada around 500 years prior to Christopher Columbus being presented with the chance. All trade and exploration was dominated by these people, giving that timeframe the title of the “Viking Age”, which followed the “Germanic Iron Age”. A source notes that a main reason behind the Vikings success was their sturdy ships and superior ability to navigate across the North Atlantic, and even the shallowest rivers in which others would not dare to sail. During the Viking Age, overpopulation became a major problem and led to their search for new territory. Their quest took them from the Faroe Islands, then on to Iceland, and finally Greenland. They came into these areas much like the plagues: cutting down forested areas, hunting unsuspecting wildlife, and introducing new plants and animals. This process was known as landnam or more recognizably “land-taking.”
Greenlandic cuisine has traditionally been based upon meat from marine animals, game, and birds. According to sources, since colonization and the arrival of international trade, cuisine has been influenced greatly by the Danes and Canadian neighbors. During the summer, especially during July when the temperature rises above freezing, Greenlanders will take advantage of eating outdoors. A very popular and unique meal found in Greenland is any course made using seal meat, or even more specifically that of which comes from the Harp Seal. One of the best ways both Greenland’s cuisines and history is represented is by preparing a traditional wintertime Inuit meal called “Kiviak”. It is made by stuffing around 500 dead auks, small birds that resemble penguins, into the carcass of a hollowed-out seal. The birds remain intact with beaks, feet, and feathers still remaining. The seals skin is sewn together after given a chance for air to be released and grease added. A large rock is then placed on top to keep too much oxygen from entering. Seven months of fermentation follow, and finally the feast can be enjoyed during wintertime or special occasions such as birthdays or weddings.
Greenland’s Actual Size – A Historical Misconception?
Greenland is the world’s largest island that is not a continent such as Australia. On most maps, even the ones printed today, Greenland is seen to be larger than that of even the entire continent of Africa. In 1973, a German filmmaker and Journalist, Arno Peters, held a press conference to denounce this widely believed misconception brought about by the ‘Mercator Map.’ Peter showed how this cylindrical projection was not only very inaccurate but quite possibly racist as well. In reality, Africa is around fourteen times the size of Greenland instead of it being its equal, if not smaller as the Mercator Map illustrates. As it turns out, the Mercator Map was actually meant to be used as a navigational tool for European sailors so that a straight line could be drawn from one point to another with little trouble instead of a way to spread racial hatred.
The Greenland Shark, also known as the Gurry Shark, is native to the water of the North Atlantic around Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Iceland. What makes them so special is the fact that they live farther north than any other species of shark. They also hold the record for having the largest amount of toxic meat compared to any other as well. These mammoths are the only of their kind that can tolerate Artic temperatures year round. It is common for the Greenland Shark to descend into the ocean depths during the summer where it is colder, and do the exact opposite during the winter months, which at that time has a colder water temperature than on the sea floor. Some scientists believe that this species may be among one of the longest living vertebrates on the planet.
Things to Do And Watch
Since 1994, in which teams from around the world compete in making the best snow sculpture. This competition is usually hosted in February or March, depending on weather conditions best fit for the events activities. Up to four people are allowed to work on a designated design, though more experienced ‘artists’ tend to limit themselves to a two or three teammate maximum. Another very popular thing to do in Greenland for sport enthusiasts is the Polar Circle Marathon, which is better known as by its self-described name “The Coolest Marathon on Earth.” This event takes place towards the end of October, and it is estimated that it takes runners 25% longer to complete than an ordinary marathon because of the frigid weather and terrain. Most of the run is actually on a snow covered gravel road, but at one point, runners must cross through an actual ice cap.
Vacationing in Greenland
For those looking to travel to Greenland on vaction, between May and August are arguably the best times to go. Between May 25th and July 25th, the sun won’t set, and July through August are the only times of the year that the temperature will be above freezing. While in Greenland, one the best attractions are their hot springs. Although it’s generally very cold in Greenland, their hotsprings maintain a water temperature between 90 and 100 degrees fahrenheit or 32 to 38 degrees celcius. The hot springs at Uunartoq are among the most comforting in the world; here you can enjoy the view of floating icebergs and snow-covered pointed mountain tops, all while in the comfort of a naturally heated pool.
Erik the Red is credited with being the first European to settle on the island sometime during the 10th century. He did this after being exiled from Norway and fleeing to Iceland for his father’s crime of manslaughter. Three hundred years later, the Inuit’s arrived and began settling on other parts of the coast. For unknown reasons, likely the harsh weather conditions on the island, they abandoned their settlements in the 15th century. Danish-Norwegians arrived in the 18th century and made attempts to locate the lost Nordic settlements. On January 14th, 1814, Greenland became a Danish colony. Both Nazi Germany and the United States occupied the country during World War II before it finally became a part of the Kingdom of Denmark in 1953. Responsibility for their own internal affairs was granted by Denmark in 2009, but the Danes continue to handle the countries foreign affairs and defense.