It’s a pretty common cliché by now that Greenland is actually very icy, and Iceland is… well, not green all the time, but certainly is some of the time in some areas, and definitely isn’t always icy!
So why the apparently contradictory names then?
Iceland was a place that was rumoured to exist for hundreds of years by other Europeans. There’s some evidence that the ancient Greeks suspected it was floating around in the far north and named it Thule, and that Irish monks lived there before any Norse settlement. The country actually went through a few names before Iceland stuck. Many Nordic explorers went on expeditions there or wound up there by accident, before a Viking named
So while the country names can seem like sacrosanct things which really capture the essence of a nation, sometimes they simply come from basic human misconception or deception.
And finally, yes, there is also a whale in the featured image for this post. That’s actually entirely a coincidence, and I only noticed the connection with yesterday’s after I’d chosen it!