Greenland, the earth's largest island, lies just to the northeast of the North American continent, of which it is a detached part. North and south it extends from 60° N. at Cape Farewell, to 83° 37° N. at Cape Bridgeman, about 24° of latitude, or 1650 mi. East and west it is roughly 650 mi. wide over its northern three-fifth of extent; its southern two-fifth gradually narrows to a point at Cape Farewell.
The area of Greenland is 850,000 sq. mi., of which about three-fourths is occupied by the ice-cap, a frozen desert of age-old ice, thousands of feet thick; while the other one-fourth is comprised in the narrow coastal belt which becomes generally free of ice and snow every summer, so that the terrain itself is there exposed.
The north coast is washed by Kane Basin, Kennedy Channel, Hall Basin, and Robeson Channel, constituting the straits between Ellesmereland and Greenland, and the ice-bound Arctic Ocean; the east coast is washed by the Arctic Ocean, the Greenland Sea, Denmark Strait, and the Atlantic Ocean, in all of which the cold Greenland current with its continuous sheet of ice- floes and bergs sweeps the Greenland coast; and the west by Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, and Smith Sound -- a branch of the Greenland current sweeps around Cape Farewell and northward as far as the Arctic Circle. All these waters are studded with bergs from the glaciers and covered with vast fields of pan-ice from the multitudinous fjords and bays of the coast.