After two decades, Swenson gets a closer look at Greenland

Ice fjord

Sabrina is pictured in front of the Illulissat ice fjord and Jakobshavn glacier.


(Editor’s Note: Sabrina Swenson, a 1986 graduate of Postville High School, is the daughter of Erma Swenson and the late Marlin Swenson. A world traveler, Sabrina is sharing her experiences in Greenland. Printed below is the first of a three-part series.)

I’ve flown over it more than a thousand times. Flying from Europe back to the U.S. for work, I’ve seen Greenland from the air a lot over the past two decades. I always thought it’s stark, icy, glacier-filled terrain had a certain beauty about it. And so, in July, partly in celebration of my 49th birthday, I decided to stop. I wanted to have a closer look at this place I’ve seen so often from six miles up.

Greenland is an autonomous constituent country within the Kingdom of Denmark. It’s the world’s largest island (although Australia is larger, it is considered a continental land mass). It’s sparsely populated with only 56,480 inhabitants of whom 88% are Greenlandic Inuit. The remaining 12% are of European descent, mainly Greenland Danes. Roughly 80% of the surface of Greenland is covered by an ice sheet. Most Greenlanders live along the fjords in the south-west of the island, which has a relatively mild climate. It’s economy is highly dependent on fishing, with fishing accounting for more than 90% of Greenland’s exports.

My trip started with a flight to Copenhagen, Denmark. There are only two ways to arrive in Greenland via commercial airlines, through Denmark or Iceland. I flew into the small town of Ilulissat on the Western coast. It lies approximately 220 miles North of the Arctic Circle. I found a hostel that was very basic, but adequate for my needs. I dropped my bag and set off wandering around this small town. Ilulissat, interestingly, means icebergs in the Greenlandic language.

Read the full article in the November 1 edition of the Postville Herald.