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Title: Kullorsuaq  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Upernavik Archipelago, Aappilattoq, Qaasuitsup, Melville Bay, Kangaamiut, Uummannaq
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Wooden houses in Kullorsuaq
Wooden houses in Kullorsuaq
Kullorsuaq is located in Greenland
Location within Greenland
State  Kingdom of Denmark
Constituent country  Greenland
Municipality Qaasuitsup
Founded 1928
Population (2013)
 • Total 448[1]
Time zone UTC-03
Postal code 3962 Upernavik

Kullorsuaq (old spelling: Kuvdlorssuaq) is a settlement in the Qaasuitsup municipality in northwestern Greenland. It is the northernmost settlement in the Upernavik Archipelago, located on Kullorsuaq Island at the southern end of Melville Bay, itself part of the larger Baffin Bay.

The settlement was founded in 1928 and became a trading station, growing in size after World War II when hunters from several small villages around Inussulik Bay, Sugar Loaf Bay, and Tasiusaq Bay moved into the larger settlements such as Nuussuaq and Kullorsuaq. Today, Kullorsuaq remains one of the most traditional hunting and fishing villages in Greenland, but maintains a stable population.

The name of the settlement means "Big Thumb" in Kalaallisut, after the Devil's Thumb, a prominent pinnacle-shaped mountain in the center of the island about 3 km (1.9 mi) north of the settlement.


Kullorsuaq is located on an island of the same name at the southern end of Melville Bay. The island is the northernmost part of Upernavik Archipelago.[2]



Inuunerup Nutaap Oqaluffia, the Greenland Free Church in Kullorsuaq

The Upernavik Archipelago was among the earliest-settled areas of Greenland, the first migrants arriving approximately 4,000 years ago.[3] All southbound migrations of the Inuit passed through the area, leaving behind a trail of archeological sites.[4] These first settlers belong to the Saqqaq culture but were followed around 3,000 years ago by the Dorset culture, which spread along the coast of Baffin Bay.[3] In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Dorset were themselves displaced by the Thule people.

The archipelago has been continuously – but sparsely – inhabited over this period. Migrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries found many ruins of Inuit settlement on Kullorsuaq, Kiatassuaq, and other smaller islands around Melville Bay,[5] although Danish settlers during the colonial era were unaware of Kullorsuaq until the end of 19th century.[5]

20th century

The modern settlement was initially populated by hunters from now-abandoned villages to Kiatassuaq's south: Inussulik Bay, Sugar Loaf Bay, and Tasiusaq Bay. The initial wave of settlers originated in villages of fewer than 10 people: Ikermiut (abandoned 1954), Itissaalik (abandoned 1957), and Kuuk (abandoned 1972).[6] Several families of hunters from Nuussuaq also moved north to Kullorsuaq, which was founded in 1928.[6][7]

Between 1930 and 1960, northwestern Greenland underwent a consolidation phase, largely driven by the Danish colonial authorities via Royal Greenland, then part of KNI, which possessed an island-wide monopoly on trade. The mutual agreement between the hunting families and the trade company limited the pre-war northward expansion until the 1950s, when the populations of the smaller settlements reinforced larger communities in Nuussuaq and Kullorsuaq.[6] In 1952, Kullorsuaq became the northernmost trading post in the archipelago with the establishment of its first year-round shop.[5]

In the 1960s, Kullorsuaq was a staging point for further expansion into Savissivik 274 km (170 mi) to the northwest, although this was unsuccessful and most migrants returned south in the 1980s and 1990s.[6] Today, the settlement remains one of the most traditional hunting and fishing villages in Greenland.


Kullorsuaq Harbour

Fishing – including [7]

Kullorsuaq is among the 10 poorest communities in Greenland, as are three other settlements in the archipelago – Naajaat, Nuussuaq, and Upernavik Kujalleq.[9]


Kullorsuaq Heliport

Air Greenland serves the village as part of a government contract, with twice-weekly helicopter flights to Nuussuaq and Upernavik.[10]


With 448 inhabitants (2013),[1] Kullorsuaq is the largest settlement in the Upernavik Archipelago outside of Upernavik. It is one of the few settlements in the Qaasuitsup municipality exhibiting significant growth patterns over the course of the last two decades, increasing by over 63% relative to its 1990 level and by almost 16% relative to its 2000 level.[1]

Kullorsuaq population dynamics
Kullorsuaq population growth dynamics, 1991-2010. Source: Statistics Greenland[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Statistics Greenland, Population in localities
  2. ^ Upernavik Avannarleq, Saga Map, 1:250.000, Tage Schjøtt, 1992
  3. ^ a b "History". Upernavik Tourist Service. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  4. ^ O'Carroll, Etain (2005). Greenland and the Arctic.  
  5. ^ a b c Petersen, Robert (2003). Settlements, kinship and hunting grounds in traditional Greenland: A comparative study of local experiences from Upernavik and Ammassalik. Danish Polar Center. pp. 231, 234.  
  6. ^ a b c d Petersen, Robert (2003). Settlements, kinship and hunting grounds in traditional Greenland: A comparative study of local experiences from Upernavik and Ammassalik. Danish Polar Center. pp. 103–108.  
  7. ^ a b "Kullorsuaq" (in Danish). Qaasuitsup Municipality. Retrieved 10 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "The history of Upernavik". Upernavik Tourist Service. Retrieved 10 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Bygderne skal selv tage ansvar".  
  10. ^ "Booking system". Air Greenland. Retrieved 10 July 2010. 
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