Greenland, the world’s largest island, is more than just an icy expanse. Its vast terrain holds stories of rich history, unique geography, and an interplay of cultures. Let’s dive into some lesser-known facets of this enigmatic land:
1. Questionable Medical Practices: In a shocking revelation from the 1960s and 1970s, it was found that the Danish government, in an attempt to control the indigenous birth rate in Greenland, sanctioned the covert implantation of intrauterine devices (IUDs) into thousands of Greenlandic Inuit girls and women without their consent or knowledge.
2. America’s Greenlandic Ambitions: The strategic significance of Greenland hasn’t gone unnoticed by global powers. Notably, the United States attempted to purchase Greenland for $100 million in 1946—a sum equating to approximately $1.5 billion in 2022 after accounting for inflation. Another bid emerged in 2019, but long before these events, the U.S. had made its presence felt. Following Denmark’s fall in WWII, the U.S. occupied Greenland between 1940 and 1945, leading to the establishment of the Thule Air Base.
3. Erik The Red’s Marketing Ploy: In a bid to attract potential settlers, Erik The Red cunningly named the icy land “Greenland”, making it sound more enticing than “Iceland”. His strategy bore fruit when several Icelandic Vikings, escaping a famine, founded settlements in Greenland within a few years.
4. Vikings Versus Inuit: While the Inuit constitute about 90% of Greenland’s present-day population, it’s the Vikings who have the bragging rights of being the early birds. Historical records suggest the Vikings set foot in Greenland at least a century before the Inuit arrived.
5. A Land of Descriptive Names: Greenland’s territories have names that aptly describe their characteristic features. They translate to evocative terms like “much ice”, “center”, “south”, and Qaasuitsup “darkness”.
6. Greenland’s Precious Forest: While Greenland might conjure up images of ice and snow, it is home to a natural forest, albeit a tiny one. Nestled in the Qinngua Valley in southern Greenland, this forest spans just 9 miles. Its existence is a testament to the unique geography of the valley, which shields it sufficiently to foster tree growth despite the overarching sub-Arctic climate.