How Did Greenland Get Its Name?
If there is any section of the world that you would not expect to be called a green land, it is the huge ice-covered island of Greenland. Late in the 10th century, an Icelander named Eric the Red sailed to Greenland and founded a colony there. He called the island “Greenland” to attract more people to join him.
However, very little greenery grows there. During its short, cool summer, only a narrow strip of ice-free land around the edges of the island is green. Most of Greenland is covered by a great icecap. In the center of the island, the ice is more than a mile deep!
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Danish Realm, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and Denmark, the colonial powers, as well as the nearby island of Iceland) for more than a millennium.
In 2008, the people of Greenland passed a referendum supporting greater autonomy; 75% of votes cast were in favor. Greenland is the world’s largest island, although it is smaller than Australia, which is considered a continent.
Three-quarters of Greenland is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside of Antarctica. With a population of about 56,480 (2013), it is the least densely populated country in the world.