IntroductionInuit villages were scattered around Qaanaaq (Thule) in far northwestern Greenland when the area was explored by Sir James Ross in 1818 (and later by Knud Rasmussen). Today, special permits are required for visits to this region because it is home to the Thule Air Base operated by the U.S. (located at Pittuffik). The base was built in a few weeks during the height of the Cold War (1951)—the undertaking was dubbed Operation Blue Jay. Although other NATO bases in Greenland have been closed, the base at Thule remains in operation, but there has been talk of converting it to a civil airport. Aside from the base, the region contains some of the northernmost civilian communities in the world. It's not easy to visit this area, nor is it cheap, but those interested in doing so can start by obtaining the necessary permit: Contact the U.S. Air Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. (If you plan to visit as part of an organized tour, your operator may handle all of the necessary permits.) 620 mi/1,000 km north of Nuuk.
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