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Vikings Hop to North America

Vikings sailed to the Arctic and settled in Iceland about 1,150 years ago, and in the process, discovered the key to the New World.

Given the limited range of sailing vessels of the day, the island provided an essential "stepping-stone" between Europe and North America.

In 986, the first boatloads of settlers left Iceland to colonize a new territory to the west that was explored several years earlier by a red-faced, red-bearded Viking known as Eric the Red. He gave the island the attractive name of Greenland to lure land-hungry people.

The Vikings established colonies there - just a short hop from the North America continent. It wasn't long before others ventured still further west.

Rumors of the ancient voyages were circulated around Europe 500 years later, and they probably encouraged Columbus to try a southern route. Without Iceland, who knows when the New World would have been discovered - for the second time?

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