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Greenland (sometimes but less commonly known as Arctica, East America, Erikland, Terra Aquilonis and Viridis Terra Aquilonis) is a sub-continent in North America, mostly located in the Arctic Circle. Because of its closeness to the North Pole, Greenland is the second-coldest continent in the world, second to Antarctica. The only icecap on Greenland is located in the north, which hadn't retracted far enough into the poles to be melted in the Arctic Ocean.
Greenland was originally inhabited by native aboriginals since 2500 BC, and it wasn't until around 900 A.D. when Norse and Danish settlements were established. However, due to soil erosion resulting from the Norsemen's destruction of natural vegetation in the course of farming made many Norsemen malnourished. Along with famine, increasing conflicts with the Inuit tribes meant many Norse settlements were abandoned. The only Danish settlements on Greenland had a very loose relationship with Denmark, leading even more settlements to be terminated. It wasn't until the late 1500's to early 1600's, the colonization of the new world, where major powers such as France, Portugal, Spain and Great Britain started colonizing the land. Greenland was fully colonized by the end of the 19th century.
The name Greenland comes from the early Scandinavian settlers. Many believe this was due to the fact the new land the settlers had discovered wasn't as cold as it was before the Little Ice Age, most likely warmer and had less snow than Scandinavia, and discovering this new land they considered it "greener" than Scandinavia.
Greenland was also called Gruntland ("Ground-land") and Engronelant (or Engroneland) on early maps. Whether green is an erroneous transcription of grunt ("ground"), which refers to shallow bays, or vice versa, is not known. The southern portion of Greenland (not covered by glaciers) is relatively green in the summer.
People from the Americas consider Greenland "East America", many believing Greenland is a continent when it is really a sub-continent. The less-commonly known names for Greenland include Terra Aquilonis (land of the north) and Viridis Terra Aquilonis (green land of the north).
Geography and climate
In midwinter in Greenland, there is rarely any sunlight. For 2-4 months, those dark days and nights are a Scandinavian phenomenon called the polar nights. In the summer months, daylight takes over and there is barely any darkness, a period of time called the midnight sun.
The Great Lakes of Greenland were estimated to have been formed at the end of the last ice age (less 10,000 years ago). For thousands of years, the weight of the ice has depressed the central land area into a basin shape, whose base lies more than 300 m (984 ft) below the surrounding ocean. The retreat of the ice sheet left behind a large amount of meltwater, which filled up the basins that the glaciers had carved, thus creating the Great Lakes as we know them today. Because of the uneven nature of glacier erosion, some higher hills became Great Lake islands.
- Main article: Timeline
- Main article: Colonization of Greenland