Updated: 3 days ago
Greenland is a self-governing territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, perhaps comparable to Scotland and Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, all of which are listed in the Australian Census as options for "Country of Birth". It has an area of 2,166,000 km2, making it the 12th largest nation in the world, but with a population of around 56,000, it is also one of the most sparsely populated lands on earth also. This is also means that to meet a Greenlander is an extremely rare event at the best of times , but to meet one on the other side of the world in Tasmania seems like a miracle. So I felt rather privileged that Ivalu agreed to share some of her background and experiences with me for my podcast.
For those who want a few more quick facts :
I think in common with other remote places with extreme climates, Finland was probably the best recent examples, Greenlandic culture and people seem very much shaped by the environment. Unlike Tasmanians, who tend to go into full hibernation in winter, Greenlanders, in common with the Finns, seem to be outdoors people despite the cold and snow. As Ivalu so right said, quoting a Norwegian proverb apparently, "There is no bad weather, just bad clothing".
But also in regards to being shaped by the environment, in common with other northern peoples, it seems Greenlanders are quite introverted with a passion for music and song. I guess this is a part of coping with a place which is dark most of the day for months on end in winter time. In small remote communities, there is also that need to stick together that accounts for the stronger communitarian mentality you find much more strongly in Nordic countries than in the more individualistic "Anglo-Saxon" style culture that predominates in Australia and other English-speaking countries.
However, it was interesting to hear about the commonalities between Greenland and Tasmania, particularly around nature. Both have places that are remote, beautiful and, well, dangerous. There is a respect and awe in the power of nature perhaps more strong than elsewhere. We have ancient forests and Greenland has it's huge glaciers, both concealing deep secrets of the past. They are environments which can both be perilous for unprepared and unwary.
I thought I would include a map here also, to help those interested see a couple of the places that Iwalu mentioned in the podcast, in particular, the capital Nuuk, and Qaqortoq, where she grew up and spent her school years. I was interested to see that its latitude was not as far north as I expected, similar to some of the northern islands of Scotland and adjacent to northern Newfoundland in Canada.