September 8, 2012

0317 DENMARK (Greenland) - National Museum in Nuuk

"In the summer Eirik went to live in the land which he had discovered, and which he called Greenland, Because, said he, men will desire much the more to go there if the land has a good name." Thus is described in the Saga of Erik the Red the way that received the current name the world's largest island, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. A marketing strategy that has succeeded somewhat to Erik Thorvaldsson (950-1003), known better as Erik the Red, a Icelander from norwegian parents, exiled for three years for murder, who founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland (on the west coast) in 986 AD.

The european colonists shared the island with the late Dorset culture inhabitants (that preceded the Inuit culture), and later with the Thule people (the ancestors of all modern Inuit). In the 13th century Greenland became part of the kingdom of Norway, which entered into a personal union with Denmark in 1380, and since 1397 also with the kingdom of Sweden (Kalmar Union). These Norse settlements disappeared sometime in the 15th century, probably as a result of famine and conflicts with the Inuit.

In the early 18th century, Denmark asserted its sovereignty over the island, and established a new colony, centered at Godthåb (Good Hope) on the southwest coast. During the WWII, when Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany, Greenland was occupied by United States, in order to defend it against a possible invasion by Germany. Until 1940 Greenland had been a very isolated society, because the Danes maintained a strict monopoly of island trade, but after the WWII the situation has changed, so that in 1979 Denmark granted home rule to Greenland, and since 2009 Greenland assumed self-determination with responsibility for self-government of judicial affairs, policing, and natural resources.

With almost 57,000 inhabitans (of which 89% are Inuit), Greenland is the least densely populated dependency or country in the world. Located at the mouth of Nuup Kangerlua fjord, Nuuk, formerly Godthåb, the capital of Greenland, has 16,000 inhabitants, and is one of the smallest capital cities in the world by population. The city was founded as the fort of Godt-Haab in 1728. Greenland National Museum (in image), one of the first museums established on the island (in the mid-1960s), has many artifacts and exhibits related to Greenland's archaeology, history, art, and handicrafts.

On the postcard can be seen also the flag of Greenland (named in Greenlandic language Erfalasorput - our flag, and Aappalaartoq - the red), designed by Thue Christiansen and adopted on 21 June 1985. It features two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red, with a large disk slightly to the hoist side of centre. Christiansen explained the symbolism of the flag: "the large white part in the flag symbolises the ice cap and our fjords are represented by the red part in the circle. The white part of the circle symbolises the ice bergs and the pack ice, and the large red part in the flag represents the ocean."

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of a series of two, Expeditions VIII, which continue a very popular expedition’s series of Post Greenland. Issued on October 18, 2010, and engraved, like the previous ones, by Martin Mörck, it pays tribute to British Sir John Ross and his Greenlandic companion Hans Sakaeus' common Arctic endeavours in 1818:
• the ships Isabella & Alexander (32DKK)
• Hans Sakaeus (0,25DKK) - it's on the postcard

The second stamp belongs to the series Norden II - Coastline, designed by: Buuti Pedersen and issued on March 21, 2012. Buuti was inspired by the seal and whale filled waters near her South Greenlandic hometown, Qaqortoq. Kalaallit Nunaat (Land of the Kalaallit) is the name of Greenland in Greenlandic Inuit language (Kalaallisut). The stamps have two values, 8DKK and 9,50DKK (on the postcard).

Greenland - Wikipedia
The Saga of Erik the Red - Icelandic Saga Database
Greenland flag -
Greenland National Museum - Nunatta Katersugaasivia
Expeditions VIII series - Post Greenland
Greenland: Norden, Coastline Sceneries II - Life at sea series - Stampland

Sender: Hanna Jonsdottir (direct swap)
Sent from Nuuk (Greenland), on 03.09.2012
Photo: Erik Holm

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