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General information on Greenland

Tourist information on Greenland


Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Magnetic North Pole ?

The magnetic north pole is presently [July 2000] situated c. 100 km north of Ellef Ringnes Island, Nunavut (Arctic Canada) at approx. 81°N 105°W in the Arctic Ocean. The magnetic pole moves northwards with c. 10 km a year. The electrical currents in the melted metal core of the Earth are constantly changing their form and this has consequences for the location of the magnetic pole on the Earth's surface.
Read more about this subject at this web site. To calculate your compass deviation from "geographical North" to "magnetic North" at any locality on Earth please visit check out this site.

What does the word "Eskimo" mean ?

The meaning of the word "Eskimo" is entirely dependent on the context in which it appears. Therefore, "Eskimo" may mean "one who speaks another language", or "one who is from another country", or "one who has an unusual behaviour", or "one who eats raw meat".
The words "Eskimo" or "Inuit" or "Greenlanders" or "Yupit" etc. are used and understood in relation to their specific context. Linguistically, it is correct to call all peoples speaking one common language, evolved from the Esk-Aleutian language, for "Eskimos". Politically this may, however, present a problem as it is alright in Greenland to be called "Eskimo", while Greenlanders themselves call their kin in Alaska and Canada for "Inuit". However, the latter prefer to call themselves "Alaskan Eskimos". Furthermore, on the regional level terms like "Nunivarmiut" and "Inughuit" are examples of a further differentiation.

Where can I get topographical maps and satellite maps of the Greenland icecap ?

Topographical maps in scale 1:1,000,000 (ICAO) covering the ice cap can be obtained from the National Survey & Cadastre. Detailed digital data of the ice cap have been sampled recently, but this information is not yet published.

What is Greenland's national motto, flower, tree, seal, and bird ?

Greenland does not have a national motto, but it does have a national flower which is the Broad-leafed Willow-herb (also known as River Beauty). The Latin name for this plant is Chamaenerion latifolium. Its most common Greenlandic name is Niviarsiaq, which means "young lady". The "Niviarsiaq" flower is also the logo for the largest political party in Greenland, the Siumut party; Siumut means "forward".

What are the names of the iceberg paths along the Labrador Sea ?

There are no specific names of the iceberg paths along the Labrador Sea. The icebergs that do drift down along the Labrador coast just follow the cold, southbound sea current that is named the Labrador Current. Although the major part of icebergs from the Disko Bay region in central West Greenland are carried northward to northeastern Baffin Bay and Cape York before heading southward along the Baffin Island coast; observations have shown that some icebergs divert into one of the west-branching eddies and, assisted by timely winds, reach the south-flowing Baffin coast current without passing north of 70°N. Most of the icebergs from Baffin Bay drift southward in western Davis Strait area, west of Disko Island. Many icebergs produced in the Disko Bay enter the Davis Strait, partly through Vaigat and partly along the southern coast of Disko Island, but due to onshore currents west of Aasiaat, some icebergs manage to drift towards or into southern Disko Bay from the Davis Strait. Due to the dominant currents and the distribution of the major glacier outlets, the icebergs observed in the northern parts of Davis Strait (north of Sisimiut) are expected to originate from the glaciers in Disko Bay and eastern Baffin Bay. In southeastern Davis Strait and northeastern Labrador Sea, most of the observed icebergs are of East Greenland origin.
For futher information please refer to: "Physical environment of Eastern Davis Strait and Northeastern Labrador Sea". Published in 1998 by the "Mineral Resources Administration for Greenland". ISBN 87-983847-6-7. The publication is vailable through contact to

What is the Danish Polar Center (DPC) ?

DPC is a service institution under the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. DPC provides services and logistics support to research projects in Greenland and publishes information and publications on polar research topics to the science communities and the general public. The Center operates a public polar library and hosts secretariats for bodies and organizations dealing with co-ordination and funding of Arctic research. Read about the center and the people at DPC.

How old is DPC ?

DPC was born in 1989 as a result of a national effort to create a government institution to be a focal point for co-ordination and support of national research interests and activities in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

Where is DPC ?

DPC is located at Strandgade 100 H, DK-1401 Copenhagen K, in a renovated, early 19th century warehouse in the picturesque harbour area of Copenhagen, called Christianshavn. How to get to DPC.

Can anyone visit Greenland ?

Yes, everyone can go to Greenland. However, citizens who are required to have a visa to enter Denmark, must ensure that it is explicitly stated in the visa that it will be valid also for Greenland. If non-Nordic citizens need to stay in Greenland in excess of 3 months a permit must be procured from the Danish Immigration Service.

We want to go to Greenland as tourists, what do we do ?

A really good start of your planning is to get an overview of facts, options, opportunities and possibilities. The best entry to this is the Greenland Tourist Board's web site 'Greenland Guide'. If your plans call for visiting uninhabited regions in Greenland you will have to comply with the special regulations for research projects or sport expeditions in these areas in order to secure your safety and control your activities.

We would like to visit several places, how do we get around ?

First of all, acquaint yourselves with the travel connections to and from Greenland as well as the infrastructure of the country and plan accordingly. You can freely visit any town or hamlet in Greenland, but be aware of special regulations concerning visits to Avanersuaq (Thule) municipality and visits to the National Park in North and East Greenland.

What is a sport expedition ?

Any solo or group travel to and activity in an uninhabited part of Greenland with the purpose of adventure, mountaineering, exploring, trekking, sailing, skiing, sledging, glacier climbing or similar non-scientific objectives is defined as a sport expedition, and must comply with special stipulations. Check the expedition planning guide.

We want to be on the Inland Ice, what do we do ?

The Greenland ice sheet is off limit to anyone who has not established the required insurance. Check the safety rules concerning activities on the Inland Ice and be aware of the fact the a large part of the ice lies within the National Park whereto access is regulated.

We want to go to the Greenland National Park, what do we do ?

The National Park is open to the public but access to the park is regulated in accordance with regulations to secure safety for the park visitors. There is no infrastructure in the park so you must arrange your own travel to and from the park, and your team(s) must be totally selfcontained. You must complete either a research project application form or a sport expedition application form and submit the form to DPC before the deadline. The Greenland Home Rule has the jurisdiction to grant access to the national park on the basis of the information provided by you through your application and by DPC.

Why do we have to submit our plans to DPC ?

There are several excellent reasons for letting DPC know about your plans for a sport expedition or a research project to be launched:
   1) it will be secured that your planned activity comply with legal requirements in Greenland,
   2) you will be assisted in communicating with pertinent authorities in Denmark and/or Greenland to get permits, licences, etc.,
   3) your safety in uninhabited areas will be optimized through DPC counselling,
   4) your insurance to cover expenses of Search and Rescue or evacuation operations will be as required and you will be saved for paying a fortune in the event of an emergency situation where you will need help,
   5) your plans will be disseminated and widely known and you will increase your chances of finding potential co-operators or similar activities.

We would like to field a research project, what do we do ?

The easiest for you is to read the on-line planning guide and follow the guidelines, advise and stipulations throughout the process.

What about insurance, will we need any special ?

Yes and no !
If you plan a research project or a sport expedition on land in West Greenland it is not required to take out a Search and Rescue (SAR) insurance nor an evacuation insurance. See also the tourist's info desk on safety in West Greenland.
However, if you will be operating in the vast and uninhabited regions in the other parts of Greenland you may find yourself in some of the most remote and inhospitable places on the northern hemisphere. Being on your own very far from other people may pose potential safety problems if you encounter sickness, casualty or a life-threatening situation for you and your team. When a distress or emergency call from any project or expedition is received by the Danish SAR authority in Greenland (i.e. Chief Constable for Greenland) a co-ordinated SAR or evacuation operation will be implemented, involving fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, vessels and rescue crews. To ensure that the significant expenses defrayed from a SAR or an evacuation operation are covered the Danish State, represented by DPC, requires that you take out an insurance. Read more about insurance.

What if we meet a polar bear ?

Be prepared to get the best out of any encounter with a polar bear:
Read the on-line publication 'Encounters with Wildlife in Greenland' and pay special attention to the chapters on safety in polar bear country, polar bear behaviour and polar bear deterrents.

We would like to go fishing and hunting, can we do that ?

As a guest in Greenland you are required to buy a sport fishing license before you can go fishing. Please remember that it is your own responsibility to get information on current regulations on harvestable species.
However, you can go hunting only when you have bought a hunting trip from one of the authorized trophy hunting companies in Greenland and are actually part of the organized hunting trip / hunting camp. Read more about hunting license.
Check the firearms regulations for Greenland as well as the firearm licence form if you plan to bring firearms to Greenland.

Can we take anything we find or buy out of Greenland ?

No, there are restrictions enforced concerning the following:
Geological samples and fossils of special interest for Greenland.
Archaeological or historical artefacts or samples.
Biological samples or items derived from an endangered species listed under the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). In Greenland, the following are listed as endangered: all whales, walrus, polar bear, arctic wolf, white-tailed sea eagle, peregrine falcon, gyrfalcon, and snowy owl.

Can we buy provisions in Greenland ?

Yes, in all towns and hamlets there are shops with provisions of ordinary household types. However, do not rely on buying any freeze-dried or lightweight food in Greenland. You must also be aware of the potential problems for the locals if you buy large quantities of certain food items in the only shop in a hamlet. You may simply exhaust the stock and it may take a long while before replenishment can be done because of sailing conditions etc. If you will need to purchase butane, white gas or another refined petroleum product in Greenland, you are advised to contact a given shop on beforehand to check for product availability and to make reservation arrangement. Please remember that bringing fuels onboard a plane will compromise safety regulations.