Trekking on the Qalerallit Glacier in Greenland
As technologies advance and everyone is able to share their travels, a trend is emerging to discover little visited corners of the planet.
This trend is leading to destinations such as Norway, Finland, Alaska or Iceland they are increasingly in demand in search of those little explored landscape photos.
But there is a very little visited area, which belongs politically to Europebut geographically to America, which still manages to keep in an almost virgin state, what we don't know is for how long.
Inuit at Igaliku in Greenland
We are talking about Greenland, arctic island that we have visited recently in a trip with Polar Lands.
It's about the land of Eskimos or inuit, which is how they are really known, since Eskimo it's a derogatory word that means raw meat eater.
The original name of Greenland in language inuit is Kalaallit Nunaat, what does it mean land of people.
Where is Greenland, isn't it a country?
When searching Greenland on the map, we find it in the arctic regions of Canada, in the northernmost part of the American continent, but in reality it is an autonomous region that administratively belongs to Denmark.
Despite being part of another country, Greenland has a certain degree of self-government, but is absolutely dependent on Denmark since that Nordic state helps the Greenlanders financially.
Without this help many of the only 57,000 inhabitants of this island could not survive the harsh winters.
Greenland is a country that lives frozen for a large part of the year and with hardly any hours of sunlight.
But in summer everything changes, there is light all day and the coasts are defrosted, revealing the impressive fjords full of icebergs that come off the glacier.
It is an island that is not as close to the North Pole as it may seem, at least the area most visited by tourists, which is the southern zone.
Cities like Narsaq or even Nuuk they are slightly above Scotland and at the height of Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Very curious facts about Greenland
Here are some facts that are amazing about Greenland.
Trekking on the Qalerallit Glacier in Greenland
After Australia, it's the second largest island in the world, in which almost 80 percent of its surface is a huge glacier thousands of kilometers long.
If you cross the country by plane, it's the best way to see how impressively big it is.
The glacier is so large that it has the Second largest water reserve worldwide.
The ice has a depth at some points of almost 3,000 meters. what causes that there are zones of the glacier that weigh so much that they sink the ground until being about 300 meters below the level of the sea.
The populations in Greenland they are concentrated in the coastal areas, which, as we have said, in summer they thaw.
During the WWII the Americans used Greenland as an air base, that is why most of the current airstrips and buildings that are near the airports were built by them.
Sheep in Greenland
In fact next to the Qasiurssaq airport It is one of the famous cemeteries of waste left by the Americans after leaving Greenland.
What animals are in Greenland?
As for animals, most mammals have been introduced, such as sheep and cows, and naturally free there are only polar bears, caribou and arctic foxes.
There are no amphibians! Not many of the insects that usually exist in many parts of the world, such as ants.
Yes,there are quite a few mosquitoes of a large size, especially when the sun rises and it is not windy.
On its coasts you can see mostly seals, but there are many species of whales and dolphins that pass near the island, so there are areas of Greenland in which the classic activity of tourists is sighting whales.
As for birds, you can see many eagles and seagulls, as well as many species of smaller birds.
And for those who want to know if there are penguins, (many have asked me) the answer is no; Penguins are only in the Antarctic, in the southern hemisphere of the planet.
Replica of the first Christian church in America in Qassiarsuk in Greenland
Greenland It is a region so little explored, that you don't really have too many historical records of it.
The only information that has been verified by historians about Greenland, was in two sagas of stories transmitted orally, in the style of The Songs of Mio Cid.
Both, both theEric the Red saga, as the Saga of the Dutch, tell the same feats, vikings who arrived in Iceland and continued west to conquer new lands.
Little by little they went through and colonizingGreenland, until you reach Vinlandia, in the current Newfoundland,near the border of Canada with U.S.
Many of these data have been verified by historical and anthropological studies, hence these sources are considered valid.
The problem is that another part of the data could not be verified, which does not mean that they are not true; they simply have not been able to contrast for lack of vestiges or initiatives and means to study them.
Greenland Museum in Narsasuaq
Today, after many studies of archaeological remains, it is known that they passed sporadically here for many different centuriesInuit Eskimo tribes , before disappearing and leaving the island uninhabited.
But if these sources are true, several centuries before arriving Christopher Columbus the Americas would have arrived in Greenland vikings.
Who discovered Greenland?
He greenland discovery and origin of the first documentations, was the result of one of the many stories of vikings in which great navigators are mixed, with exiles and murders.
The official account of the discovery of Greenland tells that it wasErick the Red the first to arrive on the island, after being banished from Iceland, his native country, after a brawl in which he killed two people from his community.
It is said that both his father and he had very bad character.
This exile was granted especially since he and his father were considered great warriors and important people within the community, and as deference to them, his life was forgiven in exchange for the three-year exile.
But it is said that Erick the Red he sailed in that direction because he had already heard stories from other navigators a year ago vikings that they had seen fertile and prosperous lands by those waters.
In any case,Erick arrives in 982 to the place of the current population of Narsaqonly one drakkar built with wood.
Qassiursaq in Greenland
After studying the coasts, in principle they do not convince you too much, but you go deeper into the fjords until you reach the town of Qassiarsuk.
This is where it would end up creating the first stable settlement in American territory that is recorded.
Right in this area where more history viking was developed is where the central camp of Polar Lands, the agency with which we made the trip, just 5 minutes by boat from the airport of Narsasuaq.
After three years of exile, Erick decides to return to Iceland to tell his exploits, and as a claim for his countrymen to join him, he called this new land Greenland (denomination of Greenland in English).
It was a way of implying that they were very green and fertile lands and where they could prosper, as opposed to Iceland (Icelandic denomination in English), which means Ice land, when in reality Iceland is much greener than Greenland.
Keep in mind that vikings were mainly Farmers, which would end up introducing the sheep and pastures to feed them.
To travel to Greenland He came to gather 24 drakkas, with about 750 people, of which only 14 arrived.
Erick appropriates the fjord to such an extent that it gives the name (Eriksfjord, the fjord of Erick) being the first colony viking in Greenland with the intention of establishing itself permanently.
How long were the Vikings in Greenland?
Inuit skins in Greenland
Although it seems a lie, the vikings they failed to survive in these lands for more than 400 years and in fact at the end of the fifteenth century the references to what could happen to them are lost. They just disappear.
Some sources say that they might have died with the Black Death brought from Europe, or due to conflicts with inuit, who in those years already shared land with the vikings or for one small glaciation That was around that time.
And it must be said that it is a region in which the conditions to survive in winter are really hard.
And if there was a drop in temperatures, it could be almost impossible to survive in those years.
Great part of difficulty surviving in Greenland, also today, is the lack of resources beyond water and fish.
A very curious thing about Greenland is that there are no trees and in fact it is very difficult for them to grow.
Children's forest in Igaliku Greenland
In fact we visited a small cenca forest of the town of Igaliku, planted in 2004, with trees that have barely grown called the Children's Forest.
It was planted so that young people could see what trees were.
Therefore, the only way to get wood was to trade or wait for sea currents to bring logs from distant lands.
First Christian Church in America
Leif Ericksson, the son of Erick the Red who believed in Norse mythology, to get resources he sailed to Iceland, where he was forced to convert to Christianity and expand it if I wanted to trade.
In the time they had spent in Greenland there was a stream of Christianization that had already reached the Nordic cultures
After many family discussions with Erick and his wife, ended up agreeing to spread the Christianity, which led him to build in Qassiarsuk The first Christian church in American territory.
Church in Greenland
The vikings they would continue their expansion by developing two more main settlements in the south,Igalicu, YNuuk, to the southwest (current capital).
Currently if you want to know what are all the cities in which there were villages vikings, you just have to see a map and the cities that have two names are the ones that had culture viking.
In the second half of the 13th century, Norway claim control over Greenland and the decline of the population begins with the lack of resources.
This leads to a decline among the population viking during the fourteenth century, until its extinction in the fifteenth century, which curiously coincides in time with the trips of Christopher Columbus.
The Inuit in Greenland
Narsaq in Greenland
The population inuit originally comes from the area of Siberia, they crossed the strait of Bering and they expanded from Alaska to Arctic lands of Canada.
It is thought that there might be some tribes Inuit paleo-Eskimos in the west of the island, many centuries before the arrival of vikings, since the inuits They were nomads.
In any case, it is known that these populations disappeared and the island remained uninhabited for several centuries.
The first reliable records of their most recent arrivals date back to the early fourteenth century, when they settled permanently in Greenland.
It is a nomadic hunting community that moved its settlements based on the movements of wild animals, especially caribou, whales, seals and polar bears.