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Biskop Sofie Petersen, Grønland.jpg
Bishop Sofie Petersen,
first Inuit Lutheran bishop
Total population
(51,349 (2012)[1])
Regions with significant populations
Kalaallisut and Danish[1][2]
Inuit religion, Evangelical Lutheran[1]
Related ethnic groups
other Greenlandic Inuit

Kalaallit make up the largest group among the Greenlandic Inuit, and are concentrated in Western Greenland. It is also a contemporary term in the Kalaallisut language for the indigenous people living in Greenland, also called the Kalaallit Nunaat.[3] The Kalaallit (singular: kalaaleq) are a part of the Arctic Inuit people. The language spoken by Inuit in Greenland is Kalaallisut.

Possibly adapted from the name Skræling,[4] Kalaallit historically referred specifically to Western Greenlanders. On the other hand, Northern and Eastern Greenlanders call themselves Avanersuarmiut and Tunumiit, respectively. About 80% to 88% of Greenland's population, or approximately 44,000 to 50,000 people identify as being Inuit.[5][6]

Kalaallit are descended from the Thule people but probably not from its predecessors in Greenland, the Dorset people.[7]


As 84% of Greenland's landmass is covered by the Greenland ice sheet, Kalaallit live in three regions: Polar, Eastern, and Western. In the 1850s some Canadian Inuit migrated to Greenland and joined the Polar Inuit communities.[8]

The Eastern Inuit, or Tunumiit, live in the area with the mildest climate, a territory called Ammassalik. Hunters can hunt marine mammals from kayaks throughout the year.[8]


The Kalaallit have a strong artistic tradition based on sewing animal skins and making masks. They are also known for an art form of figures called tupilak, or an "evil spirit object." Traditional art-making practices thrive in the Ammassalik.[5] Sperm whale ivory remains a valued medium for carving.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Greenland." CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 6 Aug 2012.
  2. ^ "Inuktitut, Greenlandic." Ethnologue. Retrieved 6 Aug 2012.
  3. ^ Hessel, 8
  4. ^ Dorais, Louis-Jacques (2014). The Language of the Inuit: Syntax, Semantics, and Society in the Arctic. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-7735-8176-0. Greenlandic kalaallit (“Greenlanders,” probably from medieval Scandinavian skrællingar, “pagans, savages”) 
  5. ^ a b Hessel, 20
  6. ^ Baldacchino, Geoffery. "Extreme tourism: lessons from the world's cold water islands", Elsevier Science, 2006: 101. (retrieved through Google Books) ISBN 978-0-08-044656-1.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ a b Hessel, 11
  9. ^ Hessel, 21


External links[edit]