Why Is Greenland Called So Although It Is Hardly Green?

The town of Tasiilaq in East Greenland during the winter.
The town of Tasiilaq in East Greenland during the winter.

Greenland is the world's largest island. Permanent sheets cover about three-quarters of Greenland's land area. Interestingly, despite the island's expensive ice cover, the island was named Greenland. It is believed that Erick the Red was responsible for coining the name sometime during the 10th century.

Settlements in Greenland

It is believed that Greenland was first inhabited as early as 2500 BCE by the Paleo-Eskimo people who are believed to have migrated from the region that is now Canada. The Norsemen settled in Greenland, particularly in the southern part beginning in the 10th century, although they had previously settled Iceland where they were escaping persecution from the King of Norway. The Inuit people arrived in Greenland around the 13th century. The Norse colonies disappeared in around the 15th century when Norway was affected by the Black Death. Soon after their demise, the Portuguese briefly explored and claimed the island of Greenland in 1499, and they named it Terra do Lavrador.

Origin of the Name

Erick the Red was a Norwegian who lived in Iceland and was forced into exile after killing a neighbor. It is believed that Eric was an adventurous person, and he, therefore, explored the western part and finally found a habitable spot in the largely ice-covered island. According to the “Saga of Erik the Red,” he named the island Greenland hoping that the pleasant name would lure other settlers to the island. To some extent, the trick worked because several Vikings from Iceland who were escaping famine managed to establish some settlements in Greenland after a few years.

Geography of Greenland

Greenland is currently the third largest nation in North America and borders the Greenland Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, the Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, and Nares Strait. The nearest countries to Greenland include Canada and Iceland. Greenland is the world's largest dependent territory because it is a dependent territory of Denmark. Greenland covers an area of 836,330 square miles and the ice sheets cover approximately 81% of the land area, which is equivalent to 677,855 square miles. The region with the highest elevation in Greenland is Gunnbjørn Fjeld, which has an elevation of 4,921 feet above sea level.


More in World Facts