Landscape and wildlife
The huge Greenlandic ice cap covers 1.755.637 square km and dominates the landscape. The weight of the ice cap has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than 300 m below sea level while elevations rise suddenly and steeply near the coast. The highest point of Greenland is at the elevation of 3.700 m (Gunnbjørn Fjeld). The majority of the glaciers emerge from the ice cap and flow to the coast. The most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere is found in Ilulissat, producing 20-25 billion tons of ice annually. Some of the largest icebergs are therefore found around Ilulissat and may rise up to 100 meters high above sea level (only about 10% of the icebergs floats above water).
In Greenland we find a variety of fascinating species of animal that have all adapted to the arctic climate, both on land and in the water. It is an unforgettable experience to encounter wild animals like seals, walruses, narwhals, polar bears, musk-oxen, wolves, foxes, ermine, lemmings and numerous kinds of birds. In summer, visitors can see Greenland that lives up to its name and offers a green scenery and fertile landscapes. The mountains are adorned with numerous of colors from flowers, herbs, mosses and heather. Especially Disko Island is a paradise for flora-lovers. Half of Greenland’s more than 500 species of flowering plants, horsetails and ferns are found on the old volcanic island.
The north-eastern part of Greenland is the site of the world´s largest national park. The national park is an arctic paradise and a wilderness with wildlife that cannot be matched in the inhabited areas of the country. The only people who have regular access to the area are seal hunters and whalers from Ittoqqortoormiit, the most remote town in North-Eastern Greenland. In order to travel and stay in the National Park, visitors must have a permit from the Ministry of Domestic Affairs, Nature and Environment.
Is it dangerous to encounter them?
Of course. The polar bear is the biggest predator and perhaps the essence of the term wildlife. In Greenland the polar bear lives in the northernmost parts of West Greenland and in Northeast Greenland, but is also occasionally seen elsewhere moving with the drifting ice. However, it is extremely rare to see a living polar bear.
The polar bear may only be hunted in limited numbers by local hunters according to the quota issued by the Greenlandic authorities. When an animal is killed there is a tradition for utilizing the whole animal: the meat is eaten, the claws used as jewellery and the hide for trousers or ‘kamiks’.