Total days en route


Distance covered:

580 km


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project Inland Ice - inhabitants

87% of the 56.361 inhabitants are Greenlandic, a mixture of Kalaallit Inuit and Scandinavian Europeans, and 13% are Danish or other. The majority of the population is Evangelical Lutheran. The official languages is Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) and Danish, and most of the population speak both. All towns and settlements of Greenland are situated along the ice-free coast and nearly all Greenlanders live along the fjords in the south-west of the main island, which has a relatively mild climate.

Hunting is the heart and soul of Greenlandic culture and most Greenlanders still hunt at least part-time to supplement their diet and provide skins for clothing and kayaks. Reindeer hunting has a special status in the hearts of the populace. Shooting a muskox provides four times as much meat as a reindeer, but Greenlanders would much rather have caribou or reindeer meat than musk ox meat. The identity of the Inuit is closely tied to their geography, history and their attitudes toward hunting which is under tremendous pressure from environmental and conservation groups. For the Inuit, animal rights campaigns are just the latest in a long litany of policies imposed by outsiders policies which ignore Inuit values and realities, destroy Inuit sustainable use of living resources and threaten the survival of one of the world's last remaining aboriginal hunting cultures.

Another pressure for Greenland's hunters is climate change. Winter temperatures above the 63rd parallel have increased on average, by 2 to 5 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years and could rise by yet another 10. That increase is having a dramatic effect on the wildlife, environment and culture of the high Arctic. Hunters are spending more time in the fjords (rather than on the sea ice) because there is less sea ice on which to hunt seal, walrus and polar bear. Hunters who net seals under the ice in winter must pull in those nets within hours after an animal is caught. Worms and parasites that the hunters have never seen before rapidly riddle and destroy the carcasses if they are left in the water very long. The parasites probably have moved north with the warmer water. Hunting time is about half what it used to be because sea ice forms one to two months later than it did before and melts one to two months sooner.

project Inland Ice - inhabitants

Finally, traditional culture is threatened by development and the growing cash-based economy. Having electricity, as well as ammunition, hunting rifles and other store-bought products, means that at least one member of every family must be in salaried employment. In most cases, that member is a woman. The jobs held by the women allow the men to continue to hunt full-time. But one consequence of this division of labor is that Thule women are losing their knowledge of traditional skills faster than the men.

Greenland today is critically dependent on fishing and fish exports; the shrimp fishing industry is by far the largest income earner. Tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential and even this is limited due to a short season and high costs. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. The University of Greenland (locally known as Ilisimatusarfik) is located at Nuuk.