Sisimiut, formerly Holsteinsborg, is the capital and largest city of the Qeqqata municipality, and the second-largest city in Greenland. It is located in central-western Greenland, on the coast of Davis Strait, approximately 320 km (200 mi) north of Nuuk.
Although now a place-name, Sisimiut literally means "the people at the fox burrows". The site has been inhabited for the last 4,500 years, first by the Inuit peoples of the Saqqaq culture, Dorset culture, and then the Thule people, whose descendants form the majority of the current population. Artifacts from the early settlement era can be found throughout the region, favored in the past for its plentiful fauna, particularly the marine mammals providing subsistence for the early hunting societies. The population of modern Greenlanders in Sisimiut is a mix of the Inuit and Danish peoples, who first settled in the area in the 1720s, under the leadership of the Danish missionary, Hans Egede.
Today, Sisimiut is the largest business center north of the national capital of Nuuk and is one of the fastest growing cities in Greenland. Fishing is the principal industry in Sisimiut, although the town has a growing industrial base. KNI and its subsidiary Pilersuisoq, a state-owned chain of all-purpose general stores in Greenland, have their base in Sisimiut. Architecturally, Sisimiut is a mix of traditional, single-family houses, and communal housing, with apartment blocks raised in the 1960s during a period of town expansion in Greenland. Sisimiut is still expanding, with the area north of the port, on the shore of the small Kangerluarsunnguaq Bay reserved for a modern suburb-style housing slated for construction in the 2010s. Several professional and general schools are based in Sisimiut, providing education to the inhabitants of the city and to those from smaller settlements in the region. The new Taseralik Culture Center is the second cultural center to be established in Greenland, after Katuaq in Nuuk.
The city has its own bus line, and is the northernmost year-round ice-free port in the country, a shipping base for western and northwestern Greenland. Supply ships head from the commercial port towards smaller settlements in more remote regions of Uummannaq Fjord, Upernavik Archipelago, and as far as Qaanaaq in northern Greenland. The town airport is served by Air Greenland, providing connections to other towns on the western coast of Greenland, and through Kangerlussuaq Airport, to Europe.
With 5,598 inhabitants in 2013, Sisimiut is one of the fastest-growing towns in Greenland, with migrants from the smaller settlements reinforcing the trend. Apart from Kangerlussuaq, it is the only settlement in the Qeqqata municipality exhibiting stable growth patterns over the last two decades.
The gender imbalance is evident in Sisimiut, with men consistently outnumbering women during the last two decades, running from 20% in 1991, to 13% in 2000 and 2010. Nearly 10% of the town's inhabitants in 2010 were born outside Greenland, a decline from 16.5% in 1990 and 11.8% in 2000.
Sisimiut Airport is located 4.1 km (2.5 mi) to the northwest of the town, at the mouth of the Kangerluarsunnguaq Bay. Before the airport was opened in the 1990s, Sisimiut had been served by the now-closed heliport, located on the eastern outskirts of the town, in the Sisimiut valley. The airport has a short, 799 m (2,621 ft) runway suitable only for STOL airplanes. Travel outside of Greenland is routed with a change of planes at Kangerlussuaq Airport. Air Greenland operates scheduled services to Nuuk, Maniitsoq, and Ilulissat. Taxis as well as an infrequent town bus service connect the airport with the center of Sisimiut.
For most of the year, Sisimiut is served twice-weekly by coastal ferries of Arctic Umiaq Line which link the communities of the western coast. There is also a weekly Royal Arctic Line ferry to Itilleq and Sarfannguit. The port in Sisimiut is the northernmost year-round ice-free port in Greenland, serving as the country's primary maritime base north of Nuuk. Supply ships from the port head north, serving the entire coast, from the Uummannaq Fjord region, through Upernavik Archipelago, to Qaanaaq in the far north. M/S Akamalik, one of the largest ships in the fleet of Royal Greenland, is based in Sisimiut. Home to the first shipyard of Greenland dating from 1931, the port also handles more than 50 cruise liners per year. The local kayak club operates at the bay harbor east of the port.