A Greenland cruise might seem like a surprising travel destination, but tours to the largest island in the world are steadily increasing as Greenland opens its doors to visitors who have nothing but praise and awe to share about their experiences in this Artic island. Greenland’s name is a little deceiving; eighty one percent of the island’s surface area is covered with ice known as the Greenlandic cap, and nearly all Greenlanders live along the fjords in the southwest due to its milder climate. Descended mostly from the Inuit culture or a Scandinavian culture, the population of approximately 50,000 predominantly speaks the Greenlandic language. A minority of migrants speaks Danish.
Historically the island has been geographically and culturally an Arctic nation, although strong ties were forged with Europe when the island was established as a Norwegian Crown Colony in the 11th century. Sovereignty over the land was transferred to Denmark in 1814, and self-rule was granted in 1979. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark remains the head of state; a parliamentary democracy forms the core of the government within Denmark’s constitutional monarchy.
The same harsh weather that gives Greenland its unique beauty, also make survival for the island’s inhabitants challenging. But the Inuit have been able to prosper in the natural environment, with a traditional hunting culture that has proven successful for centuries. New hunting quotas, however, are threatening the traditional Inuit way of life in the northern Thule region – many have had to sacrifice elements of their culture to find cash-paying jobs. Only thirteen species of mammals make Greenland their home, and only six of those are land animals. Home to the largest national park in the world, it is a rare treat for the few travelers on a Greenland cruise who are allowed to explore the small strip of gravel that physically marks the North Pole. This is the farthest northern piece of land known to mankind.
The sheer remoteness and isolation of the island helps preserve Greenland as a land of mystery. Greenland has a challenging artic climate, but it offers vast tundra, glistening columns of ice and glaciers tempt trekkers and adventurous travelers to come tour the island and explore its natural beauty.