Terminology: East Greenland

You may wonder why I sometimes say “the east coast” rather than name a particular town.  It is pretty common, and that is because there are so few places to live in this part of the country.  It is the most sparsely populated region of Greenland! There are 2 towns (Ittoqqortoormiit and Tasiilaq) and 5 settlements (Isotorq, Kulusuk, Kuummiut, Sermiligaaq, and Tiniteqilaaq).  A grand total of approximately 3,500 people live in these places, and most are in Tasiilaq.  Also, a lot of the tourism activity is focused in Tasiilaq and its surrounding settlements (Isotorq, Kulusuk, and Tiniteqilaaq).  So when one says she is going to “the east coast” it is fairly likely she is going to Tasillaq.

You may also see “Angmagssalik” (alternative spelling: Ammassalik) in reference to the east coast.  This is a remnant of the pre-2009 municipality system.  Before 2009, each town in Greenland had its own municipality, and Tasiilaq’s was Angmagssalik.  As of 1 January 2009, many municipalities fused to form the four that exist today.  They are Kujalleq Kommuneqarfik (South Greenland), Sermersooq Kommuneqarfik (Capital Region and East Greenland), Qeqqata Kommuneqarfik (Arctic Circle Region), and Qaasuitsup Kommuneqarfik (North Greenland).

Fun fact: Angmagssalik is Greenlandic for “the place with capelin”.  Capelin are small sardine- or herring-type fish that are delicious battered and fried or just tossed in a pan with oil, salt and pepper, and lemon!  You can eat them bones and all!  Here they are simply prepared as a cold appetizer.

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