Qaanaaq Municipality was the only municipality in the county of North Greenland (Avannaa). It is now part of the municipality of Qaasuitsup.
Map of Qaanaaq, Greenland
The Thule Air Base (Pituffik), which is not part of any municipality (it is, like the Greenland National Park, unincorporated territory), is a part of the U.S. network of early warning radars, and is an important facility in the recent discussion of the National Missile Defense (NMD). The proposed update of the facility (X-band Radar) to meet the demands of the NMD is controversial within Greenland and Denmark (Greenland is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark).
On January 22, 1968, a B-52 crashed 11 km (7 mi) south of the Thule Air Force Base. Nuclear bombs were lost and debris scattered over the area in the accident.
The municipality has a population of 850 (as of 1 January 2005). The town of Qaanaaq has a population of 640. In addition to the town, there are five inhabited villages:
All villages are losing population, since people are moving to the town. Historically, the number of villages has been higher, but some have been abandoned. This process of population concentration in the towns is observed through all of Greenland.
Etah, an abandoned village which once was the northernmost village of the world (at 78°19'N), lies 78 km (48 mi) northwest of Siorapaluk. Annoatok, once a small hunting station, was slightly further north (at 78°33'N) and about 24 km (15 mi) from Etah.
The municipality has an area of 225,500 km² (87,066 mi²), a large portion of which is ice cap area. It is the largest municipality in Greenland and one of the largest in the world (the surface area is larger than the United Kingdom). It borders on Upernavik Municipality on the south, on the unincorporated area of the Northeast Greenland National Park on the east, on the Arctic Ocean on the north, and on the Nares Strait, which separates North Greenland from Ellesmere Island of Nunavut, Canada on the west.