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National Day of Greenland

Greenland celebrates its National Day, also known as "Ullortuneq", meaning the longest day, on June 21. The day is celebrated as an expression of its cultural value and national identity, which is evident in its flag, language, and the anthem. The idea of national day was first introduced in 1983 as one of the home rule traditions. On this day the entire country is done up in the colors of the the Greenlandic flag, which was first introduced on June 21, 1985, and comprises of a red semicircle epitomizing the midnight sun and the white surface that symbolizes the ice. 

Cultural activities, entertainment, shows, and outdoor festivities mark the day. Many islanders dress in traditional costumes and celebrate by singing songs, tuning in to national speeches, hoisting the flag, attending church service, and indulging in local entertainment which includes music and folk dances. Participating in football games and kayaking competetions, and hosting Greenlandic food parties, also form a part of the celebration.

Historic Overview

The earliest people arrived in Greenland some 4000 - 5000 years ago from North America through Canada. They seemed to have crossed over when the sea froze in the strait at Thule. Historical evidence shows that Norsemen or the Vikings arrived around 982 AD, which was the same time when the last phase of Inuit immigration took place. Over the years about people from six different Inuit cultures have made their way into to this snow-clad island, whose present populace is a descendent of the last immigrants who brought the Thule culture of the 9th century AD.

In 1500 AD, the Norsemen disappeared from Greenland, and following their disappearance, explorers from Norway and England came to this island nation throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.  Through the 17th and 18th centuries European whalers established trading relations with the Inuit people. Around the same time, in 1721 this island saw arrival of Christianity as the missionary Hans Egede landed on the island. Although he could never find the Norsemen he introduced Inuit people to the Christian faith and beliefs. Today, most of the Inuits are Lutheran evangelists.

In the early 18th century, Greenland came in contact with Scandinavia, and in 1814 Greenland became a Danish colony after being a Denmark-Norway colony for years. The ensuing years saw many significant events in the history of this island.

One of the major changes came in 1953 with the amendment in the Danish constitution that altered Greenland’s status from a colony to a county in the Danish Realm, and in 1979 it was granted home rule. In 2008, the people of Greenland took another step forward in ensuring greater self-governance with the islanders voting to transfer more power from Danish Royal Government to the Greenlandic Royal Government.

About Greenland

Greenland is the largest island in the world and is home to a population of 56,615. It is an autonomously ruled country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, and has an arctic climate. Although geographically, it is a part of North America, Greenland has been political and culturally closer to Europe, particularly Norway and Denmark.

FAQs and Answers on History and Geography

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