For centuries, the waters of the Greenland Sea and Norwegian Sea have been home to the people of the Arctic. Cold, isolated and icy, the Arctic is certainly one of the most unforgiving areas on the planet. However, just like the Inuits and Vikings who preceded us, we at Aurora Expeditions are drawn to these waters.
Over hundreds of years, many different groups have braved this tough environment, and we plot their illustrious history along our Arctic Cruises. With Arctic experts on board, our trips put an emphasis on history and culture, allowing explorers to experience the real Arctic and how its people have shaped the region that you see today.
Read on to find out more about the various Arctic people and why they are so special in world history.
The term ‘Inuit’ includes all indigenous people who live in the Arctic regions of Greenland, Alaska and Canada. According to The World Factbook, around 88 per cent of Greenland’s population today is made up of Inuit.
The Inuit people are said to have descended from Dorset and Thule people who travelled to Greenland during the ancient times. From this point, they began to live off the land and sea, hunting various animals such as whales and seals and establishing small villages along the coastline of the world’s largest island. It is also cited that the Thule people were the first to bring dogs to Greenland, thus beginning the well-known activity of dog sledding there.
The culture of the Greenland Inuit people is rich with tradition and this is seen when Greenland celebrates events such as national holy days. This includes the kayak, the national symbol through to tools found in ancient settlements and the colourful costumes that a splash of vibrancy against the bright white landscape.
If you were to ask who controlled the waters of Scandinavia between the late 8th century and 11th centuries, most people would be able to tell you it was the Vikings. A seafaring people, Vikings are credited with being explorers, traders and also fierce warriors.
However, there are a number of misconceptions around Viking culture, behaviour and history. While they were described as violent and barbaric by corners of Europe, there is much evidence to state that they established working farms in Scandinavia as well as building institutions around the region. Vikings were also known to have long and varied sailing routes with records stating that they travelled as far as Baghdad to trade seal fat, tusks and other items.
For many on an Aurora Arctic Expedition, the Viking stories are fascinating, which is why we ensure that our explorers enjoy a wide range of history and local culture.
As the Arctic is one of the most brutal environments in the world, it has also attracted many explorers over recent centuries. While many think of the Arctic as a challenge, others believe it is a spiritual calling and definitely an experience. Take Roald Amundsen as a great example.
Born in 1872, the Norwegian explorer had a long and successful polar career, first to reach the South Pole and made the first ship voyage through the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Canadian Arctic. Amundsen was the first person to reach both poles and enjoyed explorations by ship, sea and the air.
Amundsen went missing in 1928 in the Arctic while flying a rescue mission. While no evidence of a crash has been located in the close to 100 years since his disappearance, the values that Amundsen established around the Arctic still exist today. This is why we pay particular homage to Amundsen during our Arctic cruises.
As a result of centuries of history, tradition and culture, the people of East Greenland, Svalbard and Norway still adhere to many of the traditional ways of life. Many villages, towns and settlements rely on the sea as a source of food with fishing one of the main occupations for residents.
Additionally, this is reflected in the cuisine and local food on offer in many Scandinavian regions. Often rich in flavour, the food is very unique and well worth trying/
Living in a difficult landscape means modern day people are resilient and tough, but also welcoming and respectful. This is the heart and soul of the Arctic and the people are a true reflection on what has occurred in the past and present as well as what will happen in the future.