Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Largest Sheet of Ice I've Ever Seen

Even with ice covering 80% of its surface, Greenland is still an incredibly beautiful country. And despite having an overall population of 55,000 people, there is plenty to do around the various regions.

Most of the inhabitants live on the West Coast, where Nuuk, the capital, is located. Cultures seem to collide in this area. One cannot help but notice the internet cafes and bus routes that have modernized the towns, and snowmobiles are a common form of transportation. But slightly to the north in Sisimiut,
dog sleds are still used in the traditional way.

For a complete contrast, head to the other coast and
witness the original Greenland--or the closest you'll come to it. There are only two towns in the area, because most of the time it is ice-bound and very secluded from the rest of the country. The language is totally different from the west, but it allows for the people to maintain their own eastern identity.

The North is known as the land of dog sleds and Midnight sun. When the fjords--waterways--freeze over, dog sleds are indispensable to fishers and hun
ters. During the summer, the sun never sets, and this period of endless light continues the further north you venture. The long distances between towns make for exciting boating trips where the full extent of the wildlife can be appreciated. One can see the skerries, the low mountains in the south, the monumental basalt mountains on Disko island, the highest mountains on the west coast near Uummannaq, the bird colonies on the cliffs of Upernavik and glaciers and ice fields along the way.

South Greenland is the greenest part of the country. In fact most of the flora of Greenland grow in this area. Since winters are much milder here, the culture is much different than the rest of the country. Where fishing and seal hunting are prominent elsewhere, the south has sheep farming and agriculture. Plus, the famous northern lights can be witnessed from this area at the end of August.

Venture to the farthest stretches of the north and you will find Qaanaaq. The average temperature in this area during February and March is around -30 degrees Celsius. Hunting is a way of life, and the people who live their use everything from their kills. Nothing from the hunt goes to waste: the skins are used for clothing and covering the kayaks; the flesh and offal are eaten by humans and domestic animals; the narwhal and walrus tusks are carved into finely-worked figures, jewelery and hunting instruments, and even feathers can be used in handicrafts.

All these regions surround the largest part of Gr
eenland, the ice sheet. It is a vast body of ice covering 1.71 km². It is the second largest ice body in the world, following Antartica's great ice sheet. The ice sheet is almost 2,400 kilometers long in a north-south direction, and its greatest width is 1,100 kilometers. But even with most of the country being covered with ice, it is difficult to ignore with such breathtaking scenery, culture, and history.

And no matter what area you visit, you will be greeted with brightly colored houses...

No comments:

Post a Comment