How Greenland Got The ‘Wrong’ Name Thanks To Viking Erik The Red

Greenland is a truly beautiful place, but the massive island is not very green at all.

Located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Greenland is mostly covered with ice.

The island was named by the famous Viking Erik the Red, who colonized Greenland. He had a good reason to call the island Greenland.

Greenland is the world’s largest island. It is famous for its colossal icebergs, magical midnight sun, amazing displays of Northern Lights, and beautiful fauna and flora. About 84% of Greenland’s landmass is covered by ice sheet. However, Southern Greenland lives up to its name as it is truly a green land.

Temperatures vary enormously, depending on the location and time of year. One can expect an average temperature in Upernavik of minus 20 degrees in February to about 10 degrees in the towns throughout the summer.

Owing to the low humidity in Greenland, summer temperatures will often feel warmer than you might otherwise expect.

Greenland was discovered by the famous Viking Erik the Red. He colonized the island and built a house on a place that was later called Brattalid and served as Greenland’s “capital” for many years.

However, the Vikings were not to the first people to live on Greenland. The island had been inhabited in prehistoric times by several Paleo-Eskimo cultures.

From around 2500 BC to 800 BC, southern and western Greenland were inhabited by the Saqqaq culture. Around 800 BC, the Saqqaq culture disappeared and the Early Dorset culture emerged in western Greenland and the Independence II culture in northern Greenland.

Erik the red changed the history of this beautiful island. The harsh climate on Greenland made life difficult, but Erik the Red was determined and convinced that he could set up a colony.

He started to recruit settlers, but he was fully aware of that it would be very difficult to convince Vikings to settle down in such a remote and cold place. So, Erik the Read cheated and told a lie to attract settlers.

He called the island Greenland and said there were plenty of good fishing reservoirs.

More than five hundred Icelanders agreed to follow him to Greenland, but it was a very dangerous trip and many died on the way. Only 14 of 25 Viking ships managed to cross the ice cold and dangerous waters.

The survivors established several colonies across Greenland and lived as fishermen, hunters and farmers. The Viking settlers shared the island with the late Dorset culture inhabitants who occupied the northern and western parts, and later with the Thule culture that entered from the north.

Erik the Red had achieved his goal and he never left Greenland again!

The name of the country in Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) is Kalaallit Nunaat which translates as “land of the Kalaallit”).

The Kalaallit are the indigenous Greenlandic Inuit people who inhabit the country’s western region.

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