Kalaallit Nunaat (human hand) – this is how the inhabitants of Greenland call the country, even though the hands themselves are quite rare on the largest island in the world. Only 57,000 souls live in this autonomous region of the Kingdom of Denmark, the majority in the southern regions. The name of Greenland (Greenland, in English – the green land, Gronland, in Danish), completely inappropriate of reality, is due to the cruel viking a Eric the Red. More than a thousand years ago, this was his marketing strategy, in order to attract colonists. And it even managed to convince 400 people to settle on the “green” island. Taking their wives and children, cattle and tools, the men followed the Viking crook to his place of exile. In the summer of 986, fourteen Viking drakkar vessels reached what is today called the Ericsfjord. Not far from Narssarssuarq, now the runway for the planes coming from Copenhagen, the colonists founded the first settlement on the inhospitable shore.

From north to south, the island measures 2,735 kilometers, but has only 17 kilometers of paved roads. More than four-fifths of the surface is covered with a 3-kilometer thick ice cap. White and cold as at the North Pole – this is the impression you get from the plane. Only here and there, the basalt mountains roll over the ice, creating the illusion that here – unlike Pole – you have solid ground under the soles.

The green earth, promised by Eric to colonists, consisted of an ice sheet stretched along the southern coast of the island. Here the inhabitants of Greenland live in small communities, but the countless fjords that separate them makes an intention to visit a risky attempt. For example, from the capital Nuuk (Godthab), where a fifth of Greenlanders live, the provincial town of Ivittuut can be reached only by water or by air.

After the Vikings, the Danes took over the island in 1721 and reigned incessantly until 1979, over 250 years later, when the colony became completely autonomous. Since then the island has prospered. There is now a free parliament with 27 members and a government with six ministries. The Danish Royal Trade Association with Greenland, which until recently controlled the island’s economy, was followed by Kalaallit Nuerfiat Company. Due to some misunderstandings on the fishing quota, Greenland withdrew through a referendum from the European Community.

Cultural identity is now one of the topics of increasing importance, which is why Greenlanders do not like to be called Eskimos, but inuit, like their counterpart nations in Canada, Alaska and Siberia. At the same time, they benefit from the goods of Western civilization – hospitals, radio stations, schools, – which are welcomed; even the two US military bases here are tolerated.

The North Polar Circle conditions the daily life of the islands: in north and east of the island, men embarking on traditional kayaks venture into the ancient seal hunt – a basic need for people in this world of ice, as they have found also the associations of animal protection. Some of the inhabitants deal with crab, trout and cod fishing, and for this purpose they use modern fishing vessels.

The main source of income of the people here is exactly the thing they need the less, but which is most abundant: the ice. The magnificent nature, the amazing geysers and the mountains over 4.000 meters attract more and more tourists to the island. They want to breathe the Arctic air, to see moss and polar foxes, to buy handicrafts (made from rope pieces) and to enjoy a Smorrebrod (traditional Danish sandwich), and when they leave, they will be taught already the most important local word here, “imaga”, a kind of “maybe” – which, strangely, comes into the conversation especially when it’s about to what the weather it’s gonna be.

It is often the case that flights are delayed because of the weather, which is why all airports in Greenland have a hotel for such situations. The waiting record is held by an airport, Kangerlussuaq (at Sandre Stromfjord), which is officially open in all conditions, and where a group of tourists had to wait three weeks to leave the island. But locals claim that such incidents occur only in winter.