The Inuit, an indigenous people known for their hardiness, have lived for thousands of years in the harsh polar tundra where access to building materials is limited. However, using only snow and ice, they have created the igloo, a winter shelter that has served them well for generations.
Built using various sizes of ice or snow bricks, igloos can be constructed quickly by experienced hunters, often in under an hour. These houses, which are insulated by a small petroleum lamp, can effectively keep out temperatures as low as minus 40 to 50 degrees.
Igloos are made of snow and ice because they are poor conductors of heat and have a low melting point. The snow used to build the igloos is accumulated over years, and after a long period of strong winds and sunlight, the ice crystals formed inside become hard snow with sufficient building strength. This allows the igloos to effectively withstand the cold wind.
Eskimos who live in igloos typically dig a passage under the snow outside the entrance, to prevent cold air from entering the house directly. Igloos also have no windows and only a channel entrance, which helps to prevent the convection of air between the inside and outside of the house, thus maintaining warmth.
Today, many Eskimos have moved out of their igloos and into more modern and comfortable houses. However, igloos are still used by some people, and some entrepreneurs even open igloo hotels to give tourists a taste of the experience.
Additionally, igloos have played an important cultural role for the Inuit people. They have been used not only as a shelter but also as a social gathering place and a place for spiritual ceremonies. The construction of an igloo is also a rite of passage for young Inuit, who learn the skills and knowledge needed to build a functional igloo.
Igloos are also a testament to the Inuit's ingenuity and resourcefulness. They have been able to create a functional and comfortable living space in one of the harshest environments on earth, using only the materials available to them.
Despite the fact that many Inuit have moved away from traditional igloos to modern housing, the igloo remains an important symbol of Inuit culture and heritage. It is a testament to the Inuit's ability to adapt and thrive in their environment and continues to be a source of pride for the Inuit people.
Overall, igloos are a fascinating example of human ingenuity and adaptation, and they hold an important place in Inuit culture and history.