History of East Greenland
The population of Greenland’s East coast started approximately 2000 B.C. via Greenland’s north coast by people originating from the western arctic regions. Until the arrival of the Europeans in the 19th century, they lived their traditionally nomadic way of life in total reliance on the natural resources of land and sea. For centuries, the polar ice stream prevented Europeans’ exploration of this remote part of Greenland.
Only in 1884/85 did the Dane Gustav Holm succeed together with a West Greenlandic expedition team to reach the Tasiilaq area. The success of this expedition is attributed to the type of boats which Holm used: the traditional Greenlandic women’s boats, the so called “umiaks”. Due to this fact the expedition was named “Women’s boat-“ or “Umiak-Expedition”.
Remains of the U.S. military base Blue East 2 in the Íkáteq-Fjord
East Greenland as base of the US-Airforce
During World War II the U.S. army built a chain of air force bases all over Greenland and in the Cold War early warning systems were established. After the end of the Cold War most bases were decommissioned and the runway of Kulusuk was released for civil aviation. Today it’s the most important airport for international connection to East Greenland.
Kulusuk Airport and the Heliport in Tasiilaq
Tasiilaq is situated at the Kong Oscar Fjord and surrounded by mountains, lakes and valleys.
Tasiilaq - the economic centre of East Greenland
Tasiilaq is the economic centre of East Greenland. Almost 3000 people inhabit the area, where traditional and modern lifestyles merge. Dog sledges and cars share the streets while fishing boats and cargo freighters share the port. There are various shops for daily consumer needs, schools, kinder gardens and professional schools, a hospital and a post office. Greenland prints its own stamps, which are highly valued by collectors, for the whole of Greenland in the philately in Tasiilaq. In addition, there is a museum well worth seeing, with a rich collection of day-to-day items used in Greenland’s history. Tasiilaq is the original Greenlandic name and means “where the water is still.” After colonialization, the town as renamed into the west Greenlandic “Ammassalik”, which means “the place where the Ammassetts are living.” Ammassetts are a particular type of polar fish that appears in huge schools in the area. Today the town again is called Tasiilaq, though in many maps the name Ammassalik is still in use. The district is officially called Ammassalik.
Tasiilaq at night
Tasiilaq is situated at the Kong Oscar Fjord, surrounded by mountains, lakes and valleys.
Life in the villages along the coast line outside Tasiilaq lacks most modern comforts, but does meet basic needs. It is still closely attuned with the natural surroundings. Like elsewhere in the world, many young people move to the city to find jobs and the opportunity for advancement. Nevertheless, the villages (Isortoq, Kulusuk, Kuummiut, Sermiligaaq and Tiniteqilaaq) and their almost 2000 inhabitants form the integral part of East Greenland society. They are definitely worth a visit: the traveller can experience first-hand the lifestyles of the people of East Greenland, discovering how little one truly needs to get by.
Please take note that all archeological artefacts in Greenland are under monumental protection and may not be damaged. Please report any findings to the museum!
Each village has its own character
Based on the population of one settlement by a certain clan and its natural surrounding each village is characterised specifically. Even today one can feel the open hearted happiness atmosphere in Sermiligaaq, which is situated towards the open sea. The vegetation in its surroundings is lush and colorful due to the warm and humid wind from the sea and its milder climate. Isertoq by contrast is situated direclty next to the inland ice and is polar bear terrain. The bravest polar bear hunters live here. The place is extremly rough and mostly rocky. Isertoq must withstand the hardest Piteraq storms which hit the small village without any hindrance from the inland ice cap.