Why is it that Greenland is mostly ice and Iceland is mostly green?
Many explanations have been offered, usually along the lines of deception: Iceland was so called to discourage others from emigrating, and OTOH Greenland was named to attract others to resettle from Iceland. It seems that after a Viking internal power struggle, the loser and his followers could be banished to leave on a ship to find another land, or die at sea. Thus did Leif Ericsson venture from Iceland to Greenland to found a colony, and later to reach Vinland in today’s Newfoundland.
But it may not be deception at all. When you are off the southeastern coast of Iceland, where the Vikings probably approached, and the sun breaks through for a time, you may be treated to this sight:
It happens that the Icelandic glacier sits prominently there, and so, it is land alright, but covered with ice. Of course, later on, they discovered the much more liveable western and southern parts and settled there, but maybe the original name stuck.
Meanwhile in Greenland, I was looking for the icecap and was told by our Inuit guide at Paamiut that you have to sail far up the right fjords to see the ice. Even though 90% of Greenland is ice-covered, that is not what you see from the shore.
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