Written by Sanjana Nayakanti, a grade 6 student
As we all know, the areas around the poles are called Polar Regions. Near the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean is a beautiful country named Greenland, also known as The Land of Snow.
Greenland is the world’s largest island, where it snows all year round. This wonderful place was discovered by a famous explorer, Eric the Red. He spent about three years exploring this island and named this place Greenland.
Now, here’s an interesting question – if Greenland is the land of snow, then why is it called Greenland?
Research shows that at the time when the settlers (the Vikings) arrived there, somewhere around A.D. 800 to 1300, southern Greenland was much warmer than it is today. So, at that time the name made sense.
But, that’ not when the name was given.
The story goes like this..
Eric the Red, who was a Norwegian explorer and who lived in Iceland, was chased away from the island because he killed some [people (there was a fight and he ended up killing some people). He was, thus, forced to run away from Iceland and look for another place to live.
Eric had heard of a large landmass on the west of Iceland, that was discovered nearly 100 years earlier (by a Norwegian sailor named Gunnbjörn Ulfsson). He decided to go there.
After a long and dangerous sea journey, Eric reached Greenland and spent the next two years exploring the island. He wanted to make it into an inhabitable land and wanted more people to come and live there, so he named it Greenland – so it would sound attractive to new settlers.
The original inhabitants of Greenland are referred to as Inuits – how are defined as a group of culturally similar people inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska (United States).
Modern Day Greenland
Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953 when it became a country. It attained home rule in 1979 and began full self-government in 2009.
There are very few big towns in Greenland. Nuuk (Godthab) is the capital and largest city. The total population of Greenland is just 56,000.
A very interesting fact about Greenland is that the country is geographically part of North America, but politically is part of Europe.
As Greenland is located in the Arctic region, the climate is extremely cold. The winters here are very long and very harsh. Did you know the Sun does not rise here for several weeks in winters? The temperature drops below the freezing point.
Summer is short and cool. Although some parts of this land receive an ample amount of sunshine but are still very cold. The sun does not set here from May 25th to July 25th.
Interestingly, July is the only month when Greenland’s temperature reaches above freezing. And June 21, the longest day of the year, is a national holiday.
It is only recently that tourism has picked up in Greenland. Earlier, fishing and grants from Denmark were the only sources of income for the inhabitants of Greenland. People now travel all the way to Greenland to experience the beauty of ice sheets and glaciers and also have a look at the unique flora and fauna.
The animals found here are huskies, humpback whales, polar bears, seal musk ox, walruses, and a white-tailed Eagle; all of which are exclusive to this region. All of these and more attributes make Greenland a mystical place, waiting to be explored.