Is it an island? Is it a country? Is it actually green? We’ve all heard about Greenland, but do we KNOW Greenland? Who here hasn’t stared at the world map, seen that large piece of land above the Americas and thought, hmm what happens there? Worry not, we have got some answers.
First off cartographers got the whole thing wrong, because sure when you look at Greenland on the map, it looks giant, but in reality, it is one-third the size of Australia. Still doesn’t take away from the fact that it is the world’s largest non-continental island. It has been self-governing since 1979, which makes it an autonomous constituent country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Back in the day in a gutsy cold war sales pitch, the US tried to buy Greenland for a whopping sum of 100 million dollars…in gold. Needless to say, it was rejected and Greenland is now in a very interesting place, where geographically it is a part of North America, but politically it is a part of Europe.
Possibly one of the world’s first con jobs was when Erik the Red christened Greenland. Freshly exiled from Iceland for manslaughter, Erik the Red named the island Greenland hoping to lure people to move there in order to have a successful settlement. A fact that he completely ignored or was oblivious to was that 85% of Greenland is covered with ice. Not just that, Greenland has the 2nd biggest connected mass of ice in the world.
Which takes us to the next fascinating thing about Greenland – it has virtually no roads or railways! Which means that you are likely to not get hit by a car when you’re vacationing here because there are as few as 2000 cars in a country that has a land size of over 2 million square kilometers. So how do they travel you ask? Using airplanes, boats, snowmobiles and… dog sled.
Speaking of dogs, Greenland thrives thanks to the Greenlandic sled dogs. These creatures are somewhere between a wolf and a dog and have a special resistance to cold that allows them to be out in the harsh weather 365 days a year. Due to their unique resilience, there is a law that doesn’t allow any other dog breed to enter the mainland, in order to keep the bloodline pure. Some villages have more sled dogs than people and these dogs aren’t allowed to be kept as pets!
But what sets Greenland apart from most of the world is its unheard of methods of law enforcement. They have an open prison system, which means prisoners are imprisoned between 9:30 pm and 6:30 am each day. The rest of the time they are allowed to go to work, socialize, and run errands and even carry firearms if they have a prison guard with them. You can’t make this stuff up!
In spite of all its quirks, Greenland is where some of nature’s most unique occurrences are all too commonplace. Greenland is one of the rare places with the ‘Midnight Sun’ phenomenon and can have months when the sun doesn’t set and vice versa. During the latter, the Northern lights are in full view and can make for a mesmerizing visual.
Now that you are well informed, who wants to take a trip to this not-so-mythical place?