Greenlandís History: Ancient to Modern

Ancient History
The unique artic environment that makes Greenland travel so celebrated has also proven a challenge for both historic and modern-day Greenlanders. The tale of Greenlandís history is dotted with the reoccurring theme of incredible strength and endurance of its inhabitants, and their remarkable ability to turn an artic climate into their home. Unlike the majority of developing nations, Greenlandís ancient inhabitants were less concerned with conquering or protecting the large island, but rather concentrated their energies on survival. While there is still speculation as to the first people who made this region their home, the majority believes that the islandís first civilization appeared on Greenland roughly 5,000 years ago. They were made up of two tribes of a Paleo-Eskimo culture. Little is known about these first inhabitants. The Saqqaq tribe followed, leaving behind a great deal of artifacts. The Saqqaq would eventually die out for reasons unknown.

In the 10th century, Greenland experienced the arrival of its most influential cultures: the Thule. These people were respectively sophisticated and introduced Greenland to two of its most instrumental survival tools, the kayak and the dogsled. During Greenland travel today, visitors can still see strong influence from the Thule culture; the modern-day Greenlandic Inuit people are the offspring of the original Thule civilization, making them the most successful population to inhabit the island.

The European culture did not make its way to Greenland until the year 982 when Eric the Red, a legendary Viking, was exiled from Iceland as punishment for murder. He journeyed with his family and slaves in search of the land rumored to be across the oceans. After settling two colonies along the southwest coast of the island, he named the place Grśnland or Greenland in order to attract more people to come settle there. The fjords of the south were lush and had a warmer climate than you will experience on a tour of the island today. The warmer climate allowed for successful farming and hunting. The settlements appear to have coexisted peacefully with the Inuit, who were beginning to migrate south around 1200. In 1261, Greenland officially became part of the Kingdom of Norway, which in turn entered into a union with Denmark in 1397. For 500 years the colonies endured, but then suddently vanished. Famine or the effects of the Little Ice Age, and even the possibility of a massacre by the Thule or pirates have all been speculations of their disappearance.

Modern History
Denmark-Norway reasserted claims to the colony in 1721. Then in 1814 the Treaty of Kiel placed the island under the possession of Denmark. Norway tried to make claim based on the original establishment by the Icelandic colonists, but lost in court in 1953 officially giving control to Denmark. Although they were made an equal part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Greenlandic people still balked at being under Denmark control. Twenty years later, Greenlanders gained independent rule save foreign affairs which would remain Denmarkís responsibility. Greenland later joined the European Union, only to withdraw in 1985 due to some stringent fishing quotas. Greenlandís modern-day politics and energies have widely been influenced by the whaling industry.

One environmental feature you are sure to witness during your Greenland travel is the islandís adundance of ice. Future plans are afoot to tap this resource. Current estimates attribute Greenland to containing one fifth the worldís drinkable water, which could possibly bring a more stable economic venture to the small population.