Countries have interesting origin stories about how they get their names. Generally speaking, country names are either based on the land’s features, a tribe, a person, or even a directional description.
Bahrain, for example, literally means “Two Seas” while United States of America was named after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. On the other hand, Norway, as its name implies, means “The Way North” or “The Northern Way” while Mauritania is based on the Mauris, the country’s largest ethnic group.
It’s when we reach Greenland and Iceland that things get really interesting – and a bit confusing!
As you can see on this popular, their odd names absolutely do not make any sense. Clearly, the names should be the other way around since Iceland seems covered with greens and Greenland is, well, very, very icy.
So how did their names get switched in the first place? Read on and find out!
More than 80% of its land area is covered in ice and yet, it’s called Greenland.
Despite that in mind, it should be pointed out that grass was much greener in the land way back AD 982 when explorer Erik the Red reached the south west part of the island for the first time.
Norse custom dictates that they name things or places based on what they saw, hence, the name Greenland.
Meanwhile, legends tell us that Naddador, the first Norse explorer to make it to Iceland, initially named the country Snæland or “snow land” because it was snowy at the time. After Naddador, Swedish Viking Garðar Svavarosson also visited the island and called it Garðarshólmur which means “Garðar’s Isle”.
Iceland’s name was actually inspired by a tragedy.
A National Geographic article further tells us:
“Garðar’s Isle was not so kind to its next arrival, a Viking named Flóki Vilgerðarson. Flóki’s daughter drowned en route to Iceland, then all his livestock starved to death as the winter dragged on. Depressed and frustrated, Flóki, the sagas say, climbed a mountain only to see a fjord full of icebergs, which led to the island’s new name.”
Iceland President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, who is a history professor himself, said the island’s new population “felt they were part of the Nordic region, but they wanted to maintain a separate identity” since “an island has to have a name, and that is the one that stuck,” he added.
Because of climate change, it looks like the two countries will be switching back to their original states in the future.
“The rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet,” wrote National Geographic, “has resulted in cold temperatures in the North Atlantic, which has significantly slowed the Gulf Stream. Should the trend continue, Iceland will likely suffer much colder temperatures and even sea ice, while Greenland will continue to grow warmer and shed icebergs at an alarming rate.”
Watch the video here to learn more:
Why Sin Eating Was Once The Worst Job In The World
Technically, it was a thankless job.
If you think you are unfortunate for having to hold on to a job that you think sucks, bear in mind that at one point in history, there were people who went the extent of risking their salvation just for money. For the so-called Sin Eaters then, it did not matter if they had to suffer eternal damnation in hell for as long they could eat and have some coins in their pockets.
While a Sin Eater is already a thing of the past, there is no questioning that it held the notion as being the worst job in England, Scotland, and Wales where it was practiced from the Middle Ages until the early 1900s. You see, a Sin Eater had to eat a piece of bread placed on the chest of a dying person, otherwise known as a sin-soaked bread, while the family of the would-be departing person watched, prayed, and drank a flagon of ale.
By eating the sin-soaked bread, it was believed then that a Sin Eater could absolve the dying person from his sins, and his chances of entering heaven would improve.
Touching Plane Crash Memorial Site Spotted via Google Maps
The incident claimed 170 lives and its memorial is beautifully haunting.
On September 19, 1989, international passenger plane UTA Flight 772 was en route from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo to the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. Tragically, the aircraft never made it to its destination as a bomb in the cargo hold blew up, causing it to break up over the Sahara desert.
The explosion, which later became known as the deadliest plane-related incidents in Niger, claimed the lives of all the 156 passengers and 14 crew members. French investigators later confirmed that it was an attack by Libyan terrorists.
Fast forward to 2007, Les Familles de l’Attentat du DC-10 d’UTA, an associated of the victims’ families, created a beautiful memorial for their departed loved ones. Now the said memorial is visible via Google Maps and Google Earth.
Awesome World Map Shows Literal Translations of Every Country’s Name
Do you know the meaning of your country’s name?
Created by Australia-based company Credit Card Compare, this cool world map has recently been making rounds on the internet. The said map has sparked the interest of numerous netizens from across the globe as it featured literal translations of country names.
Of course, one thing we’ve immediately realized while looking at it is that certain factors are considered when it comes to naming countries – from geographical locations and wildlife, to popular persons, among many others.
You’ll see what that means as you scroll down below and see how the names turned out.
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