Greenland Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
Greenland is one of the biggest countries in land but the smallest by populations. In this lesson, you will learn about Greenlandic life, Erik the Red, Denmark in Greenland and the Northern Lights.

A Big Country but Very Few People

Greenland is a large island in the north near Canada. Even though Greenland is about one-fourth of the size of the United States, Greenland only has about 57,000 people. That is the size of a big college or university in the United States! Most Greenlanders are Inuit, a tribe of people who have been in Greenland for a long time, and about 8,000 people are Danish people from Denmark in Europe. Many Greenlanders, about 15,000, live in the capital, Nuuk. The capital is so small that you can run into the prime minister (similar to a president) of Greenland at the supermarket!



Most of Greenland (around 80 percent) is covered in ice, so most people live on the western coast, where it is the warmest. It is not that warm, though. For most of the year, Greenland is a very cold place. In winter, most of northern Greenland is in the dark and has no sun. In the summer, it's the opposite. There are 24 hours of sun.

Thousands of Years in a Few Seconds

Native Greenlanders have been living in Greenland for thousands of years. They are related to the people of the north, like Native Americans in Canada and Alaska.

According to legend, around 1,000, settlers from Iceland, under Erik the Red, reached Greenland. Erik gave the island the name Greenland and sailed back to Iceland. Calling the island Greenland was a good idea! Erik knew people would not want to live there if they knew it was a land of ice.

Denmark controlled Greenland for hundreds of years. In World War II, Greenlanders were cut off from Denmark, and the United States even offered to buy Greenland from Denmark in 1946. Denmark said no. Greenland and Denmark have been arguing ever since about who controls the island. Greenlanders want to be completely independent from Denmark.

The Flags of Greenland and Denmark
The Flags of Greenland and Denmark

Life in Greenland

Greenlanders speak Kalaallisut. Many speak Danish, too. You probably know one word in Kalaallisut: kayak. Greenlanders invented this small, quick boat to move around ice. Greenlanders have always made a living out of the sea and are one of the few people allowed to hunt whales.

Nuuk feels like a big city, even with 15,000 people. There are shops, supermarkets, banks, a cultural center and even a movie theater. There are very few roads in Greenland, and only two stop lights in all of Greenland. Most people have a boat. The sea is the highway in Greenland.

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