|Greenland (Greenlandic: Kalaallit Nunaat, "The Land of the Greenlanders (Kalaallit)"; Danish: Grønland) is a self-governed Danish territory. The Atlantic Ocean and Iceland lie to Greenland's south east; the Greenland Sea to the east; the Arctic Ocean to the north; Baffin Bay and Canada to the west. Greenland is the world's largest island, and is the largest dependent territory by area in the world. About 81 percent of its surface is covered by ice, known as the Greenlandic ice cap or the 'Inland Ice'.
Greenland was one of the Norwegian Crown colonies until 1815, when it formally became a Danish colony, although Norway and Denmark had been in a personal union for centuries. Greenland became an integral part of the Kingdom of Denmark in 1953. It was granted home rule (hjemmestyre) by the Folketing (Danish parliament) on May 1, 1979 and the law went into effect the following year. The Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, remains Greenland's head of state.
Greenland was home to a number of Palaeo-Eskimo cultures in prehistory, the latest of which - the Early Dorset culture - disappeared around AD 200. Thereafter, the island seems to have been without humans for some eight centuries. Icelandic settlers found the land uninhabited when they arrived circa AD 982. They established three settlements near the very south-western tip of the island, where they thrived for the next few centuries.
The name Greenland comes from those Scandinavian settlers. In the Norse sagas, it is said that Eiríkur Rauði (Erik the Red) was exiled from Iceland for murder. He, along with his family and slaves, set out in ships to find the land that was rumoured to be to the north-west. After settling there, he named the land Greenland in order to attract more people to settle there. The fjords of the Southern part of the island are lush and the settlements seemed to be doing relatively well, along with the new incoming Inuit, bearers of the Thule culture, who had arrived in northern Greenland from the West around AD 1200. After almost five hundred years, the settlements simply vanished, probably due to famine during the 15th century in the Little Ice Age, when climatic conditions deteriorated.
Denmark attained possession of the moribund colony at the Treaty of Kiel in 1815. Norway occupied and claimed parts of (then uninhabited) Eastern Greenland in the 1920s, claiming that it constituted Terra nullius. Norway and Denmark agreed to settle the matter in the International Court of the League of Nations in 1933, where Norway lost. In 1953 Greenland was made an equal part of the Danish Kingdom. and in 1979 took one step further when home rule was granted.
Our trek (the 'Iceberg Trail') was carried out in August 2005 in the Sermilik Fjord area of East Greenland, crossing Angmagssalik Island the second week, and was organised by High Places. Food was dropped at various places en route so we only had to carry enough food for two or three days at a time. We enjoyed fine sunny weather for most of the time but had 24 hours of heavy rain half way through the holiday. Fortunately this coincided with our visit to Tiniteqilâq and a special thanks is due to the village for allowing us to use their school house during this wet spell.
Photographic Notes All the images were taken with a Nikon D70 digital SLR camera. Lenses were the 18-70mm 'kit' lens, Sigma 70-300mm APO Macro, and Sigma 12-24mm. I mostly used the 18-70 and next useful was the 70-300. I didn't use the 12-24 much and it's debatable whether it was worth carrying the extra weight, though it certainly came in useful for capturing the dramatic skies here and here. The camera performed faultlessly despite being cold and damp at times. I carried two spare batteries but never got on to the third despite taking about 800 photographs. The first battery was still showing full after a week but I changed it anyway. Other equipment carried included a small tripod Velbon Ultra Luxi F, Jessops x2 converter (hardly used), two Cokin grey-grad filters (never used), and a Flarebuster which came in useful a couple of times.
All images shot in NEF (RAW) format. For quickly getting the images on to this website I converted them to JPEG using Preview Extractor (this doesn't seem to be available any more) and resized etc. using Paint Shop Pro (v7) but for better quality conversions, such as for prints or for publication, I use either Rawshooter Essentials or Adobe Camera Raw. All further work is carried out using Adobe Photoshop.
The Red House, East Greenland
Greenland and the Arctic Lonely Planet Guide
This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland Gretel Ehrlich
The First Crossing of Greenland Fridtjof Nansen
The Last Kings of Thule Jean Malaurie
Ultima Thule: Explorers and Natives in the Polar North Jean Malaurie
Two Against the Ice Ejnar Mikkelsen
Greenland Expedition: Where Ice Is Born Lonnie Dupre
Beyond the Imaginary Gates: Journeys in the Fjord Region
of Northeast Greenland Iain Roy
The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of
North America, C.A.D.1000-1500 Kirsten Seaver
Greenlanders, Whales and Whaling: Sustainability and Self-determination
in the Arctic Richard A. Caulfield
The Art of Greenland: Sculpture, Crafts and Painting
Bodil Kaalund, K. Tindall
Woven into the Earth: Textile Finds in Norse Greenland
The Two-mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate
Change and Our Future Richard B. Alley.
Ring of Ice Edited by Peter Stark.