Exploring Greenland’s Cultures

Greenland is the world’s largest island with the lowest population density. All its the population lives along the coast. People who live in Greenland are considered citizens of Denmark, but just under 90 percent of the population was born in Greenland and is either native Greenlander (descendants of Inuit and Thule cultures), of European (usually Danish) descent, or of mixed heritage. The other 10 percent were born outside of Greenland, mostly in Denmark.

Generosity, kindness, and courteousness are valued in Greenlandic culture. Abundance of anything is expected to be shared with friends and family. Age and experience are highly respected.

Host a student from Greenland in the U.S.

People and Community

Families in Greenland are tightly knit. Each parent generally works outside the home. Nearby relatives may help raise children, especially in single parent homes. In more rural areas, it is customary for multiple generations to live together. In Greenland, there are intricate nicknames for many members of the family. The nicknames can point to the gender and age of the person being addressed as well as that of the person using the nickname.

Language and Communication Styles

Greenlandic (Kalaallit Oqaasii, or Kalaallisut) replaced Danish as Greenlandic’s official language in 2009.


The Greenlandic diet contains large amounts of meat and fish (cooked, dried, smoked, or salted), some of the only foods that can be found in Greenland’s extreme climate. Pork, chicken, and beef are popular, as are seal, whale, reindeer, and lamb. Game birds such as murre, eider, duck, and ptarmigan are often eaten. Seal blubber and whale skin (mattak) often accompany dried meat or fish. Dried fish is a common snack.  The Danish dish flødekartofler (scalloped potatoes) is popular in Greenland, as are many potato dishes.