Siorapaluk is also known as Hiurapaluk. The name means “little sand”, referring to the narrow sandy beach in front of the settlement. Siorapaluk is the northernmost settlement in Greenland and one of the northernmost dwellings in the world. The settlement is located on the north side of Robertson Fiord, which cuts into the Hayes peninsula. The area was formerly called Avangnardlit: Those living nearest to the north wind. From the settlement, as the crow flies, there are some 50 km to Qaanaaq and 1,362 km to the North Pole. Many inhabitants descend from Canadian Inuit, who moved to Siorapaluk by crossing Smith Sound around 1880.
Siorapaluk is located on a south-facing slope that is traversed by several creeks. A creek divides the settlement into two: a western residential area and an eastern area holding homes and centre functions.
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 settlement’s current level of service and housing. Further urban development and conversion is to take place within the existing plan area. The primary business development is to target sealing, whaling and fishing as well as tourism initiatives, in cooperation with Qaanaaq. Furthermore, infrastructure, waste management etc. should be improved to boost living standards.
There were 42 inhabitants in the settlement as of 1 January 2017. The population has varied widely and reached its maximum in 2006 with 93 people, after which the population is declined by half.
The three settlements in the Qaanaaq area number 44 households and a total of 132 inhabitants. The average household size is 3 persons).
On 1 January 2010, there were a total of 119 houses in the three settlements. 117 were detached single-family houses, whereas two houses were unaccounted for. In other words, the settlements exclusively offer single-family houses. The settlements have no dormitories or senior housing, and several houses are in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation.
The population – i.e. the number of permanent residents – is not expected to increase in the years to come, and the planning period primarily calls for replacement buildings in connection with redevelopment. The settlement has available space for 10 homes.
The primary trades are sealing and whaling, and there are good possibilities of catching birds (little auk and polar guillemot), arctic foxes, arctic hares, seals and walruses. Hunting for polar bears is also important. Siorapaluk has no actual trading or storage site. There is no port with fixed constructions, so there is no designated port authority area.
Fishing is limited in the settlement, but its citizens also make a living on domestic industry products. The shop, school, municipal activities and, to some extent, tourism also generate jobs.
There is no available space for industry and port facilities.
The unemployment rate in 2015 in the Qaanaaq district, with its 17.8%, was the second highest in Avannaata Municipality, only exceeded by the town of Qaanaaq (22%). This is thus much higher than both the municipal average (9.1%) and the national average (9.1%).
In the summer, tourists can go dog sledging on the Robertson Fiord, and enjoy traditional drum dancing, kayak technique demonstrations and choral singing.
The helistop is located north of the settlement and is operated by Air Greenland all year around. In the winter, means of transport also include dog sledges and snowmobiles from Qaanaaq.
From July to September, ships can call on the settlement, depending on the ice conditions and the weather, and a supply ship calls on the settlement once a year. There is no port in Siorapaluk, so loading/unloading takes place on the beach. The settlement has no actual system of roads, rather wheel tracks and paths.
There is a power plant in the settlement, and heat is produced by means of paraffin heaters or oil-fired burners. There is no water supply. In the summer, water is collected from the creeks, and ice is melted in the winter. There is no sewerage and grey wastewater is discharged above ground. Day-time refuse is collected and deposited at the dump east of the settlement, where it is burnt regularly. The lack of road to the dump poses a problem. There is no organised night-soil collection, and refuse collection is a general problem.
TELE Greenland handles telecommunications in the settlement via a telephone pole. There are also satellite-based radio and TV.
The settlement’s shop and its store lie in the same building as the post office. Siorapaluk also features a settlement office, a nursing station and a service house that also acts as assembly hall, common shower facilities, skin processing facilities and laundry. There used to be child-care facilities in the service house, but currently, the settlement offers no organised day care.
There is no official overnight accommodation in the settlement, but private accommodation and tents are available.
The settlement’s school, Evap Atuarfia, was constructed in 2006 and lies in the same building as the chapel and a small library. The school offers forms 1 through 7 and numbers around five pupils.
The settlement boasts a village hall, a school chapel as well as club activities in the school.