Qaqortoq, formerly Julianehåb, is a town in the Kujalleq municipality in southern Greenland, located near Cape Thorvaldsen. With a population of 3,229 in 2013, it is the most populous town in southern Greenland and the fourth-largest town on the island.
The area around Qaqortoq has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Beginning with the Saqqaq culture roughly 4,300 years ago, the area has had a continuous human presence.
As is true of all populated places in Greenland, Qaqortoq is not connected to any other place via roads. Fairly well trodden hiking trails lead north and west from the town, but for any motorized transportation terrain vehicles are needed. During winter, snowmobiles become the transport of choice.
Qaqortoq is a port of call for the Arctic Umiaq ferry. The port authority for Qaqortoq is Royal Arctic Line, located in Nuuk. With a channel depth of 50 feet (15 m), the port can accommodate vessels up to 500 feet (150 m) in length. The port offers pilotage upon request, but no tugging.
Qaqortoq is a seaport and trading station. Fish and shrimp processing, tanning, fur production, and ship maintenance and repair are important activities, but the economy is based primarily on educational and administrative services. The primary industries in the town are fishing, service, and administration.
The native subsistence economy was long preserved by the former monopoly Royal Greenland Trading Department, which used the town as a source of saddle-back seal skins. The Great Greenland Furhouse is the only tannery in Greenland and the primary sealskin purchaser on the island; it remains one of the major employers in the town. Like the rest of Greenland, Qaqortoq is critically dependent upon investment from Denmark and relies heavily on Danish block funding. Of all exports produced in Qaqortoq, 70.1% are headed for the Danish market.
Qaqortoq has a maritime-influenced polar climate with cold, snowy winters and cool summers. The southern tip of Greenland does not experience permafrost. The cold waters of the Labrador Basin ensures that summer stay below the tree line in spite of it being below the 61st parallel. Winters are much milder than at much lower coastal parallels in continental North America due to the marine effect. Therefore, the seasonal variation in the climate is very small for a location so far north.