West Greenland Inuit - Settlements

In aboriginal times the population had a differentiated ecological adaptation, but generally speaking people spent the winters in small scattered settlements on the coast, with Summers spent in camps in the fjords. Over the years, the number of inhabited places has been decreasing, and the towns growing at the expense of the villages. The largest town, the capital and administrative center, Nuuk (Godthab) is situated on the section of coast where sea travel is possible all year round. In the eighteenth century the winter houses were built of stone and peat. Illumination came from small windows of seal intestines sewn together and from soapstone blubber lamps. These lamps also heated the room, and meat was boiled in soapstone pots suspended over the lamps. Summers were spent in tents of sealskin covering a frame of driftwood, and cooking was done outdoors over an open fire. The big winter longhouses were gradually abandoned in the nineteenth Century and replaced by small houses lined with imported wood. Later on these were made only from wood and were often of poor quality. The majority of houses are now of a modern design. The larger towns are dominated by apartment houses, and nearly all houses in the villages are single-family houses.

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