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Vinland

Around the year 1000 AD, five centuries before Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), the Grænländingar (Greenlanders) under the command of the Dutch navigator Leif Eriksson (970-1020) were probably the first Europeans to set foot on the American mainland and named it "Vinland". There are several versions of the exact geographical location of Vinland. Partly Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are assumed, partly New England near today's Boston in the US state of Massachusetts, but also the island of Manhattan at the site of New York. According to traditional interpretation, "Vinland" is derived from "vines", but this has recently been questioned. Vin has two meanings in Old Norse: With an accent on the "i" (i.e. í) it means "vine", without an accent it means "pasture" or "farm". The Greenlandic settlers might have been impressed by the green pastures, consequently it could also mean "pasture land". But if it really means "wine country", then it could be derived from the wild vines that abounded in the forests, with grapes hanging from the trees. But it could just as easily mean wild berries. According to the Greenland saga, Leif Eriksson and his men settled in a place in Vinland they named Leifsbuðir.

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