Nuussuaq was founded as a trading station in 1923 and was relatively small for the first three decades. The settlement is now among the largest in the Upernavik area, numbering 189 inhabitants in 2017. Nuussuaq means “the great cape”, but in Danish, it is also known as “Kraulshavn”, which refers to the name of the factor in Upernavik, H.P. Kraul (1863-1915).
Nuussuaq is located on the Nuussuaq peninsula, some 200 km north of Upernavik. The settlement can be considered a traditional hunting and fishing settlement. Nuussuaq is located on a cape, surrounded on three sides by the sea and by a large fresh-water lake towards the east, which also supplies water for the settlement. The earliest buildings are around the jetty in the western part of the settlement, from where the development has extended towards the east, revolving around the church, the school, the settlement consultation post, the service house and the branch office.
In recent years, Nuussuaq has seen temperatures above normal, meaning that the sea ice is created later than normal. This has had a severely negative impact on sealers, who rely on catching their bay of, e.g., seals on the ice.
Provisions and subareas
The general provisions apply to all subareas of the municipalities in towns, settlements and open country areas. The provisions are general and do not consider the local conditions in the subareas.
The overall provisions for each subarea are the basis for the municipality"s granting of area allotments and building permits.
The aim is to maintain the current level of service and housing. Further urban development is to take place within the existing settlement area.
The primary development of the settlement should be related to sealing, whaling, fishing and the related facilities, which should be secured more as well as larger facilities (factory and trading facilities), and the quay should be improved. Fishermen are also to be give better conditions, including areas for boat workshops, hauling etc. The settlement is also in dire need of a broader range of housing that can match the population growth, ensure better housing conditions for families and provide senior housing for the citizens. Denser development may be established in existing residential areas, interacting with the existing detached houses. New residential areas may be established south of the helistop as the water protection zone prevents further development towards the lake. Several of the settlement’s core service functions should also be expanded, e.g. the kindergarten and leisure facilities. Furthermore, the status, location etc. of the incineration plant should be looked into.
Nuussuaq has seen a relatively large increase in population since 1980 when it numbered 143 inhabitants. Today, the settlement numbers 189 inhabitants. The population peaked in 2005 at 216 inhabitants.
The housing stock consists of detached single-family houses. The average household size in Nuussuaq is 4.5 persons, which is high compared to the municipality as a whole. The population growth has led to a lack of housing in the settlement. The remaining residential capacity of the settlement is estimated at 15 homes.
The settlement’s development opportunities are, though, limited by the relatively steep terrain on the cape and the protection zone around the drinking water lake.
The main trades in Nuussuaq are sealing, whaling and fishing, but the bag of, e.g., Greenland halibut is generally small. To achieve larger bags, increased investments in fishing boats etc. are needed. The rising temperatures seen in recent years have also meant that the period for long-line fishing from the sea ice has become shorter. The port in Nuussuaq includes a schooner jetty with a quay length of some four metres and a water depth of 1.2 metres. Perpendicular to this, Naalakkersuisut has appointed an approx. 700 meters long area as a port authority area.
Jobs in Nuussuaq are related to Pilersuisoq A/S, the school, the church, a privately owned trading facility, the settlement consultation post, the service house, the municipality, the local refuse collection company and Nukissiorfiit. In addition, fishing, sealing, whaling and tourism also generate jobs. By 2015, the unemployment rate in the rural areas of the Upernavik district was 10.9% overall. This is slightly higher than Upernavik, where the unemployment rate was 9.3%. Likewise, it is slightly higher than both the municipal average (9.1%) and the national average (9.1%).
In the town plan, the remaining capacity for industry and port facilities is estimated at 2,000 m².
On the mountain knoll in the middle of the cape lies the settlement’s heliport, which offers helicopter service to Upernavik twice a week, all year around. In the summer, a boat service to Upernavik runs once or twice a week. Other transport is by snowmobile or dog sledge.
Nukissiorfiit handles the technical operation of power, heat and water supplies, and telecommunication is handled by TELE Greenland A/S. Nuussuaq is not sewered, and grey wastewater is discharged above ground. The large lake delimiting the settlement towards the east also makes up its water catchment area. Night-soil services include collection of bags, which are emptied into the sea from a ramp without a chute to take it far enough out to sea. The disposal of the yellow bags also constitutes a problem.
The existing system of roads – mainly wheel tracks – service all built-up areas in the settlement. In order to construct new buildings in the zoned subarea A2, the settlement infrastructure is to be developed, thereby creating a road link around the mountain knoll.
Service functions in Nuussuaq also include a municipal office which shares its facilities with an activity centre and the settlement consultation post. The settlement also boasts a service house, a library, a shop and a post office. Child-care services consist of family day care.
The settlement's primary school, Nuussuup Atuarfia, which was expanded in 2011, has approx. 35 students, who are divided in the 1st to 7th grade. After that, the pupils go to Upernavik to finish school at Prinsesse Margrethe Skolen.
Nuussuaq includes six preservation-worthy buildings: B-45, B-48, B-49, B-118 (the church), B-137, and B-199. The original church burned down in 2008, and a new church opened in 2011.
The activity centre by the municipal office hosts most of the settlement’s cultural and leisure events. Last, but not least, the area around the settlement offer great opportunities for hiking and whale watching. Once a year, the belugas enter the bay where they are hunted by local whalers, using traditional techniques.