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Polar regions


A map of GreenlandA map of Greenland Greenland is the world’s largest and most northerly island. Home to just 57,000 people, it is also the world's least densely populated territory. Most of Greenland lies within the Arctic Circle, and has an extremely harsh, cold climate. Temperatures hardly ever rise about 10°C (50° F), even in summer. A thick ice cap covers more than 80% of the island all year round. In some places, the ice is up to 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) deep. The windswept interior is almost entirely empty. Greenland's coast is rugged, fringed by huge mountain ranges, partially buried by ice. In some places, glaciers slide off them and crash into the ocean. Greenland was once a province of Denmark; today it is an autonomous (self-governing) Danish territory. It has had its own parliament since 1979. Greenlanders call their land Kaluallit Nunaat.

Dog sleddingDog sledding


About 90% of the population lives along Greenland’s southwest coast. This region has a milder, warmer climate and is free of ice. There are no roads between the major towns however. People travel short distances by dog sled or snowmobile, while longer trips are made by air or by sea.

The settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresby Sund)The settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresby Sund)

Young GreenlandersYoung Greenlanders

Greenland’s Inuit are the descendants of the Thule people, who settled on the island 800 years ago. Most Greenlanders are either Inuit or have a mixture of Inuit and Danish ancestry. The largest ethnic group are the Western Inuit, whose language, Kalaallisut, is the official form of Greenlandic spoken by almost all the population. Inuit groups living in the north and east speak slightly different forms of the language. Many people also speak Danish. Young people often finish their education by going to university in Denmark.

In the town of Uummannaq, northwestern Greenland, locals enjoy constant daylight for two months each year.

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