Complete information on the climate, vegetation, wildlife and life of Greenland

Greenland is located in the north polar region. It is the largest island in the world. It is located in the north Atlantic Ocean lying off the east coast of Canada. Greenland has an area of about 2,175,000 square kilometers.

The area from the Arctic Circle to the North Pole in the Northern Hemisphere and from the Antarctic Circle to the South Pole in the Southern Hemisphere is called the Polar Region. This part of the Earth is extremely cold and most of it is covered with ice and snow.

Greenland is located in the north polar region. It is the largest island in the world. It is located in the north Atlantic Ocean lying off the east coast of Canada. Greenland has an area of about 2,175,000 square kilometers. It extends for about 2670 km from north to south and 1050 km from east to west at its widest point. Greenland belongs to Denmark, a small European country. The total population is about 65 thousand, which lives mostly along the coast. The nearest European country is Iceland. The capital city of Greenland is Nuuk (Godthaab).

More than four-fifths of the total area of Greenland is covered with permanent ice and snow. Most of the ice-free land is along the coast, and has low mountains. Through the gaps in the mountains, ice spills into the sea from the glaciers. When ice reaches the water, it sometimes breaks off and floats out into the sea as icebergs, Icebergs are large masses of ice floating in the sea and are found mainly to the south of Greenland. They are formed where glaciers meet the sea. Icebergs may be many kilometres long and weigh millions of tones. But the part of the iceberg which is visible is only its tip and the rest of it is under water. It is seven to ten times as large under the water.

Icebergs are a major hazard to the ships. A collision with an iceberg can be disastrous. In ipiz/ the liner Titanic struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage and sank with 1/500 passengers and crew. The International Ice Patrol now keep a watch for icebergs.

Climate :

The climate is very cold throughout the year. On the ice-caps, the temperature is always below freezing point. The climate along the coast is pleasant in the summer season, the weather being usually sunny and dry.

Vegetation :

As almost the whole island is covered with ice, there is hardly any greenery. No plants or vegetation can grow. During the short summer season, short grass and lichen grow. There is not much economic activity except hunting and fishing.

Wildlife :

Animals, which can bear extreme cold, are found on this island. These include polar bear, reindeer, Arctic fox, musk ox and polar wolf. The powerful wolf-like dogs, called huskies are important domestic animals, used for pulling sledges. Seals and whales are found along the coast which are hunted by the people.

Life of the people :

The native people, called Greenlanders, are mainly of Eskimo origin. The Eskimos who originally came from North America have learnt to live in the harsh climate by working hard. They have a fat and short body with copper or yellow-colored skin. Eskimos are expert at fishing and hunting,

Eskimos used to live in tents or igloos according to the season. In summer they erected tents made of seal or reindeer hide/ while in winter they constructed igloos. During winter journeys/ though/ they would build temporary shelters made of snow. They made igloos by cutting hard-packed snow into blocks. Today/ most Eskimos live in modern houses.

They hunt seals, whales, walrus and polar bears. Earlier they used harpoons, spears and bows to kill the animals. A harpoon is a spear with a rope attached to it. They throw the harpoon across a distance and use the rope to pull back the animal that has been speared or to recover the harpoon.

During winter months the Eskimos hunt for seals. They cut a round hole on top of a frozen river or the edge of the sea. The seal swimming under the ice come near the hole to breathe. So they wait near the hole and kill the seal with their spears,

Eskimos make use of almost every part of a seal. They eat the meat (mostly raw), use the skin for clothes and tents, tendons to make sewing thread, bones to make needles and harpoon heads, and burn the fat as fuel. The clothes made out of seal skin are worn with the fur turned inside or outside according to need. Men and women wear almost the same type of clothes. The jacket with a hood is called a parka. The animals in Greenland are trapped for their valuable fur, which is in great demand.

We think that Eskimos always live in igloos or snow houses. This is not true. Igloo is an Eskimo word for any kind of house. It can be made of ice, stone, wood or skins. Snow houses are made only in winter, while the Eskimos live in tents during the summer season. Most of the Eskimos now live in modern huts and houses.

On land, the Eskimos travel from one place to another on sledges, pulled by or reindeer or a team of tough wolf-like dogs called huskies. The Eskimo's boal or kayak is a skin-covered canoe, which can hold only one person. Some use a broader boat called umiak, which is used for whaling and for carrying women and children.

The life of Eskimos has undergone many changes in recent times. Now they have machinery like outboard motors and powered sledges, steel knives and even radio and television. Some Eskimo settlements have electricity.

The spread of education and the development of industry, such as oil-drilling and mining, have drawn the Eskimos into the modern world. Hunters use rifles in place of spears or harpoons. Fur farms have been set up to breed animals. Many have settled in cities like Nuuk and air transport has brought them closer to the rest of the world.