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10 Interesting Facts about Greenland

How much do you know about the largest ice island in the world? Sparsely populated on the coast, while the interior is covered with ice, Greenland is emerging as one of the world's best kept secrets as a holiday destination.

And with Hurtigruten running Expedition Voyages up the coast, there is no better time to see the incredible flora and fauna! Plus it is a great chance to have an in depth look at the fascinating culture and history of this land of ice.

Did you know that...

1. 80% of Greenland is covered by an ice sheet and glaciers, estimated by scientists to be 400,000 to 800,000 years old, with the edges about 10,000 years old, a remnant from the last ice age! Despite that, the ice-free area is still as large as Sweden.

2. The flag of Greenland is a polar bear on a blue shield - the polar bear represents the fauna of the nation while the blue represents the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

3. Technically, Greenland is part of the North American continent although it is geopolitically aligned with Europe and is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. In fact, in 1946, the US attempted to purchase Greenland but Denmark refused.

4. The Northeast Greenland Ice Sheet has lost more than 10 billion tons of ice per year since 2003 due to melting, according to a Nature Climate Change study.

5. While sealing, whaling, hunting and fishing are the primary source of income, there are large deposits of gemstones all throughout the country and it is predicted that mining could take over fishing as the largest industry.

6. 'Kayak' and 'igloo' are Greenlandic words that have been adopted without modification into English.

7. There are practically no roads in Greenland! Despite the fact the country is enormous, all travel is done by plane, boat, helicopter, snowmobile or dogsled. As a matter of fact, there are hardly any cars in Greenland - with a population of 57,000, there are estimated to be just over 2,500 cars in the entire country, most of them in Nuuk, the capital.

8. The indigenous people of Greenland are called Kalaallit (which means Greenlander in Kalaallisut language) and originate from Central Asia. Parts of Greenland have been occupied for over 4,500 years, although the people today are not directly descended from those earliest settlers. They are rather largely descended from a group that arrived in Greenland some 1,000 years ago.

9. Greenland is home to some of the world's most extreme versions of sport including the Arctic Circle Race and the Ice Golf World Championships. The Arctic Circle Race is the toughest cross country ski race in the world, spanning 160km out of Sisimiut with both locals and visitors competing. The Ice Golf Championships occur in March over two days and involve a golf course cut into the ice between icebergs and into the snow fields.

10. From May 25 to July 25, Greenland experiences the midnight sun - thanks to the angle of the Earth, the sun travels across the sky but does not actually set. July is also the only month of the year were the temperatures are above freezing point!

Did you learn something new about Greenland? For such a sparsely populated land, the culture and history is certainly very fascinating - and there's a lot more facts where these came from!

Experience the wonders of Greenland, from picturesque Nuuk to the incredible Ilulissat Icefjords with the largest glacier outside of Antarctica on a Hurtigruten coastal expedition voyage.