In this country, you can find both the old and the new coexisting.

The Old and the New Coexist Here

Greenland is a remote Arctic country that is sparsely populated. However, it does not mean that the country has remained unchanged. In this country, you can find both the old and the new coexisting.

There are small towns and settlements that are still heavily depending on hunting and fishing, while there are bigger towns where you can enjoy urban life. Cities of Greenland have nearly everything you would find in other countries, such as crowded airports, busy fishing ports, tall buildings, large supermarkets, fashion designers, global auto brands, cafés, cinemas, university, etc.

Most of the population uses advanced digital telecommunication services: The number of mobile network subscribers exceeds that of fixed network subscribers. It is not surprising to see a girl in traditional costume updating her Facebook status on her smartphone, while her mother in jeans strips a seal that the father, who is an IT consultant, has shot during the weekend sail-out.

Tradition Goes On

Kaffemik is a Danish word that refers to the Greenlandic social gathering. On important occasions as birthdays, confirmations, weddings and a child’s first-day of hunting, Greenlanders have a kaffemik whose host provides various kinds of cakes and food along with tea and coffee. Sometimes it takes about a week only to prepare the food for the kaffemik, as more than 100 friends and families constantly come and go throughout the day and share the news of their lives. Guests usually bring gifts to the host.

Greenlanders wear traditional, national costume at celebrations, religious ceremonies and national holidays. Men’s outfit is plain and consists of a white or blue anorak, black trousers and black boots (kamik) or shoes. Women, on the other hand, wear a very colourful anorak with a bead collar and cuffs, sealskin pants with embroidery, and boots, also with intricate leather embroidery. Sowing women’s national costumes requires enormous time and efforts, and special skill that only a few in the country possess. At first glance, women’s costumes may look alike, but each is designed individually implying age, status and regional identity. Please note that the Kalaallisuut or West Greenlandic festive costume, usually referred as the national costume, is one of three regional costumes.

Drum Dance was the original music of the Inuit, and it still plays an important role in the Greenlandic culture. In the old days, it was accompanied to songs, stories, legends, and rituals to bring luck in whale hunting or to communicate with the spirits. It was also used as a duel to settle disputes: Instead of fighting, people resolved disagreement via a drum dance battle in which each tried to ridicule the other. Those, who made the audience laugh the most, won the battle. As a symbol of settling disputes, a drum hangs in most courtrooms today. Drum dance is now performed for tourists and entertainment.

Drum Dance was the original music of the Inuit, and it still plays an important role in the Greenlandic culture.

The hunting-tool-making skills have continued to today in handicrafts such as masks, amulets, tupilaks and toys.

Hunting Culture

Throughout the history, hunting and fishing have always been a matter of survival in Greenland where the summer is short and the climate is not suitable for farming. Back then, the hunting community’s social solidarity was strong and vital necessities depended on the catch being shared.

The Inuit have used materials available in nature to create and refine such hunting tools as qajak (kayak); the women’s knife ulo; the soapstone lamp and harpoons; and bird spears. The hunting-tool-making skills have continued to today in handicrafts such as masks, amulets, tupilaks and toys.

Although Greenland is no longer a major hunting society, the hunting traditions remain today. Many people still go hunting during the summer, and it is not unusual that children capture their first ptarmigan or seal at a very young age. The first catch is such a big event in Greenland that it is certainly a day to celebrate with kaffemik.

Pop, Jazz, Techno... Just Name It!

Today’s Greenlandic music has been inspired and influenced by various music: Dutch and Scottish polka, American country and rock ‘n’ roll and even Hawaiian music.

Since 1970s, Greenlandic artists have taken international characters. The rock-band SUME and the folk singer Rasmus Lyberth are the first generation who stimulated a growing interest in Greenlandic pop music.

Once being exposed to the new genre of music, new bands have rapidly followed, taking all different kinds of musical styles. Pop, rock, jazz, blues, rap, techno, etc, you name it. Greenland now has bands and singers who perform on the international stages, such as Chilly Friday, Angu, Julie Berthelsen and Kimmernaq.

More and more Greenlandic musicians are internationally recognized. Relatively new musicians include Nive Nielsen, who received a great attention with her debut album “Nive Sings” in 2009, and Nanook, one of the most popular bands in the country and that sings only in Greenlandic. Nanook is attracting fans from overseas as well: The Discovery Channel has purchased rights to use several songs of the band for the series “Flying Wild Alaska.”

Today about 10-15 albums are released every year in Greenland and some sell 5,000 copies, which is quite impressive considering the size of the population.

Once being exposed to the new genre of music, new bands have rapidly followed, taking all different kinds of musical styles. Pop, rock, jazz, blues, rap, techno, etc, you name it.

Very few people know about the ‘Big Arctic Five.’ For that we have to go to the northern hemisphere and five reasons to travel to…Greenland. 



Greenland’s ‘Big Arctic Five’

Most people probably know that the “Big Five” refers to five extraordinary animals on the African continent: the elephant, lion, black rhinoceros, leopard and Cape buffalo. Very few people, however, know about the ‘Big Arctic Five.’ For that we have to go to the northern hemisphere and five reasons to travel to…Greenland. 



If there is one thing that is particularly plentiful in Greenland, it’s space—and lots of it. In fact, the country ranks as the least populated country worldwide with only three inhabitants per 100 km2 (38.6 sq miles). All you need to do is hike up the mountain in Kangerlussuaq (in Danish: Søndre Strømfjord) when arriving from Denmark or in Narsarsuaq if you arrive from Iceland: From there, you will see the ice sheet—a mere 15 miles from the small airport settlement—and beyond that mountain ranges, vast empty space, and unpopulated quiet with none of the people, hustle and bustle or any other signs of civilization as far as the eye can see.



But Greenland is so much more than a wildlife refuge offering calm and reflection in a unique natural environment just four and a half hours by plane from Copenhagen, Denmark or three hours from Iceland's capital Reykjavik.

Beyond the expanse and the deafening silence, there are the five special reasons to travel to Greenland, also called the Big Arctic Five—the massive ice sheet, the mesmerizing northern lights, dog sled trips, the gigantic whales and the opportunity to meet the Greenlandic people.

Dreaming of a Hollywood

Greenland as a movie set is not new: “Qivitoq,” a romantic drama directed by a Dane, was already filmed entirely in Greenland back in 1956. It was nominated for the 29th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Movie.

Also there have been several Greenlandic films created by Greenlandic directors for recent decades. But they have never been receiving as much attention from both international and domestic audience as today.

“Nuummioq” (literally meaning someone from Nuuk, 2010), is about a young man from Nuuk and shows how he reconciles with the past after learning his fatal illness. This Greenland’s first feature film, co-directed by Otto Rosing and Torben Bech, was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (2010) and its leading actor Lars Rosing won the best actor prize at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (2011).

Greenland’s first horror movie “Qaqqat Alanngui” (“Shadows in the Mountains,” 2011) has sold history high cinema tickets in Greenland. It is about six students, who go to a cabin in the fjord to celebrate their graduation, but only to find one of them get killed soon after their arrival. The story evolves with qivittut, the mountain spirit that creates a special phenomenon Greenlanders believe in. The movie, directed by Malik Kleist, is a low budget, spending DKK 2.1 million, and it took only nine weeks to shoot the entire film.

What makes these new Greenlandic films more interesting are that they talk about their own stories, showing their own culture, in their own language, but in a way that the international audience can also identify with. Also considering that many of the actors and actresses are amateurs, it is quite amazing that they have made this much success.

Also there have been several Greenlandic films created by Greenlandic directors for recent decades. But they have never been receiving as much attention from both international and domestic audience as today.

In the architectural design, the box style structure has been replaced with designs inspired by nature.

Design and Innovation

For hundreds of years, seal skin has been an indispensable part of the attire in Greenland’s Arctic climate. Recently, Greenlanders started combining their traditional animal skin sewing skills with today’s urban fashion to make practical, yet elegant Arctic design inspired by nature. Various materials and new techniques in tanning, dyeing and scalping of animal skins have also contributed to the fashion design. Among the most known Greenlandic designer houses are Great Greenland, Lennert Design, Isaksen Design and Arctic Designers.

In the architectural design, the box style structure has been replaced with designs inspired by nature. The design of Katuaq cultural centre in Nuuk was inspired by waving northern lights and that of Malik, the swimming pool in Nuuk was adopted from the waves. Malik is considered as the most beautiful of its kind in the Nordic countries: Through the enormous panoramic windows, swimmers can have a breathtaking view of the fjord.

Innovative technologies have been also applied to buildings. In Sisimiut is an energy-saving house, equipped with solar panels, a highly insulated building envelope, and a ventilation system with heat recovery, which is expected to cut the energy consumption.

A Taste of Greenland

In order to survive the physically-demanding Arctic winter, meat has been the main ingredient of Greenlandic dishes for generations. Thus, the Greenlandic culinary culture is closely tied to the old hunting culture, and today food and mealtimes remain a central part of Greenlanders’ characteristic hospitality.

The ingredients from Greenland are organic and pure, because fish, game and marine animals are grown in the natural, pesticide-free environment and are not given artificial feed or flavourings.

Surprisingly, there are sheep farms in South Greenland where about 25,000 sheep graze on the lush pastures. Shortly after their birth, they are put out to pasture, and they move around freely and avail themselves of nature’s fresh food. Their constant move makes the muscles built up in a natural manner, making the meat juicier.

All supermarkets have Greenlandic provisions in their display freezers. Close to the harbour in all towns is a “Board” where the day’s catch is sold. It is full of meat of whales, seals, reindeer, musk-oxen, lamb and fish.

Believe is or not, vegetables are grown in Greenland too. Potatoes, turnips and rhubarb have been locally grown for decades, and iceberg lettuce just joined. Iceberg lettuce is well suited to South Greenland’s temperatures and subarctic climate. While hiking, you can also pick the same mushrooms, berries and herbs, which have provided the Inuit with their daily dose of vitamins for the last 4,500 years.

Greenland also has its own breweries: one in Nuuk and the other in Ilulissat. The Greenlandic beer from Godthåb Brewery in Nuuk is made from the world’s purest water that comes from the Greenland ice sheet.

There is no Starbucks in Greenland, but it has Greenlandic Coffee. Three different kinds of alcohol—Kahlua, whisky and Grand Marnie—are added to hot coffee, and it is completed with whipped cream on top. Order the Greenlandic coffee at local restaurants, and it will be prepared right in front of you. It is more like a performance with a liquid flame show.

For international flavours, some restaurants prepare menus of French, Japanese and Thai cuisine using Greenlandic ingredients. The offers are numerous and often garnished with a unique view of the city and/or the fjord.

In order to survive the physically-demanding Arctic winter, meat has been the main ingredient of Greenlandic dishes for generations.

The program documents Chris’s journey into the beautiful country of rich diversity, unique adventure destinations and a wealth of new culinary inspiration.

“A Taste of Greenland”

“A Taste of Greenland” is a TV series produced by Visit Greenland that features an exciting gastronomic trip of a New Zealand-born, British chef Chris Coubrough in Greenland.

The program documents Chris’s journey into the beautiful country of rich diversity, unique adventure destinations and a wealth of new culinary inspiration. In each show, Chris cooks new dishes inspired by Greenland’s traditional, locally-sourced ingredients, and he sometimes participates in the catches.

The program consists of five episodes, filmed in all around the country—East Greenland, South Greenland, Arctic Circle Region, Nuuk/Capital Region, and North Greenland. The final and the fifth episode will be filmed in North Greenland in June, 2012.

The first four episodes are already in global distribution, including HOW MANY countries and in HOW MANY languages.

TV clips and recipes can found on our website www.greenland.com.

Not Recognized as a Country by the United Nations, Yet

Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but it is a parliamentary democracy with four municipalities and village councils.

Greenland has won Home Rule in 1979, and Self Rule Governance in 2009. With this, Greenland has assumed the political decisions and competencies that had previously issued by Denmark. But yet foreign affairs, defense policies, jurisdiction, financial and industrial matters are under the control of Denmark.

Greenland’s Representation in Denmark functions as an embassy and plays an important role concerning the commonwealth. The function was established in 1981 when several areas of responsibility were taken over from the Danish state.

Greenland is not included in Denmark’s membership of EU, although there is a close collaboration with the EU via the commonwealth with Denmark.

Greenland is acquiring an increasingly international outlook in terms of politics and business. But the roots of the old traditions are not forgotten either in the major towns or the small settlements.

Greenland is acquiring an increasingly international outlook in terms of politics and business.

Although there are disputes over how serious the global warming is, there is no doubt that the climate change is happening.

It’s Not Just About the Polar Bear

It may all started with the photo of a polar bear stranded on melting ice. Greenland has gained a lot of attention from the world as climate change has become today’s hot topic. The country contains about 10% of the world’s total fresh water reserve in the form of ice. If the entire ice sheet in Greenland melts down, the world’s sea level will rise by 6-7 m (20-23 ft).

Although there are disputes over how serious the global warming is, there is no doubt that the climate change is happening. Seal hunters and whalers at Qaanaaq observe the sea ice getting thinner, and East Greenlanders see less ice from the Arctic Ocean. Also, the UNESCO-protected ice fjord off Ilulissat has pulled back faster than ever. But the climate change is not just a matter of sea level rise or the polar bear.

The climate change affects the people who are living in the Arctic region. Their traditional knowledge, their social, cultural, human rights as well as related biological diversity are particularly vulnerable. However, it is more the magnitude and amplified rate than the changes themselves with which these groups struggle to stay in step.