South Greenland

- The green Greenland.
FOR MOST people visiting South Greenland, the adventure begins at Narsarsuaq airport, which has flight connections with

Denmark and the rest of Greenland. The airport was built by US Air Force during World War II as a stopping-off point for planes flying from and to Europe, and has been operated as an international civil airport since 1959.
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A trip to the ice is one of the many excursions you can make in South Greenland
 Hvalsey church: the best preserved ruin from the time of the Norse settlements.






Some of the former airport buildings now serve as a modern hotel with all facilities, and there is also a youth hostel not far from the airport, together with many fine spots for pitching a tent.
During the summer, South Greenland fully lives up to its Danish name, Green Land, as this is the most fertile part of the country. In fact most of the flora of Greenland grow in this particular region. The winter climate is relatively mild, and summer temperatures reaching 16-18°C are not uncommon. Because of these conditions, the economic life of this area is also very different from the rest of Greenland, with sheep farming and agriculture playing an important part. If you take a boat trip along the fjords you will see isolated sheep farms, some of which have paths and rough roads leading to them, while for others the only contact with the outside world is by boat or radio transmitter.
The sheep are rounded up in September, and some 20,000 lambs are taken on flat-bottomed boats to the slaughterhouse in Narsaq, one of the three sizeable large towns in South Greenland.
Many sheep farmers have built cabins near their farms, in which guests can stay for a day or two before they continue on foot to the next farm.
The abundant fertility of this region was also the reason why Eric the Red chose to live in South Greenland in around 985 AD, after he was outlawed from Iceland.
According to the sagas it was actually Eric the Red who called this country Greenland. After he had lived for three years in this region he returned to Iceland, and wanted to convince his fellow countrymen of the fine opportunities for starting a new life here in this 'Green Land'.
The new immigrant community grew, and farms and churches were built and a bishop's seat was established. The sagas describe voyages of discovery sailing north and westwards to North America, long before Columbus reached those shores. Among the chief attractions of this area are the remains of churches and farms which date back to these Norse settlements that survived for 500 years. Farm buildings have been reconstructed in Qassiarsuk, and there is also a reconstruction of Thjodhild's Church, the first Christian church ever built on the North American continent.
But South Greenland is not just known for its fertility, mountains and abundant flowers; it also has glaciers, icebergs in all shapes and colours, and fantastic Northern Lights which can be enjoyed from the end of August.
The field ice is a remarkable phenomenon of South Greenland. This ice is formed in the Arctic Ocean north of Greenland and carried by the current down the east coast, round Cape Farewell and up into South Greenland's bays and fjords. Unlike the icebergs, the field ice consists of enormous sheets of frozen salt water, up to three metres thick, which are in constant motion.
Towns and settlements in South Greenland can be cut off from visiting boats by the field ice for periods in the spring and summer, and then only helicopters can supply the provisions and services. The field ice also brings seals, and seal hunting and fishing contribute to the local economy as well as sheep farming. The distances between towns and settlements are usually quite short in South Greenland. The journey from Narsaq to Qaqortoq, for example, takes only two hours by boat and twelve minutes by helicopter. It only takes another twenty minutes by helicopter to reach Nanortalik in the far south. This means that even during a short visit to South Greenland you will have the opportunity to experience towns and settlements, glaciers and historical sites as well as the distinctive culture of the region.

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