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Greenland is not a continent but the world's largest island; it's surface is the same as France, Great Britain, German, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium combined.

Its surface is about 80% ice-capped. Kalaallit Nunaat, the Inuit name for the island, is not an independent state but a self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979. Geographically, Greenland is part of the North American continent; geopolitically, the country is part of Europe, and nationally Greenland is part of Denmark.

A quick history: The first Inuit came 4,500 years ago followed by 6 waves of immigration or 6 cultures. The Thule Culture came about 1,000 years ago. They were highly skilled hunters with kayaks, umiaqs and dogsleds. In 982 AD: Eric the Red found his way to Greenland and in 1000, Leif Eriksson brought Christianity to the Continent.

In the 18th century, Denmark began to colonize the island and it became part of the Danish kingdom.

March 2, 1887, Daily Gazette, Xenia, Ohio

The Trade With Greenland

But the the days of the noble old clippers, are gone, and I went to see this veteran of the sea about the ships that trade with Greenland. He and a business associate own seven vessels engaged in this trade. No other American commercial vessels go to the far off land of Kane. Sir John Franklin and so many other gallant men who have braved the rigors of its highest latitudes. The vessels go out in ballast, for although Greenland imports wheat, brandy, coffee, sugar, tobacco and firewood, it is not from this country. They bring back a metal termed cryolite, which they obtain at a port called Ivigtut' on the southwest coast of Greenland.

It is a bleak country, even in the short summer, during two months of which, in June and July, the sun is always above the horizon. Mosses, stunted shrubs dwarfish trees and huckleberry bushes are about the only vegetation, and the bare mountains, in the grip of great glaciers, and the generally dead and desolate aspect of the country make it appear as strange and unreal as that gray corpse of a world, the moon. Cryolite looks like ice and hence the name signifies ice stone. It is all taken to Philadelphia, and is used in manufacturing soda, alum, lye, porcelain piano keys, door knobs, clock dials and other articles. The seven barks in the trade each carry about 800 tons of this strange mineral, and make fourteen voyages in a year. Last year they brought 2,400 tons to this country.

--Oscar Willoughy Biggs

June 11, 1896, Racine Journal, Racine, Wisconsin

Race for a Meteorite
Both Prof. Dyche of Kansas and Lieut. Peary After It

TOPEKA, Kansas. June 4.--During his northern trip last summer Prof. D. L. Dyce paid a visit whiel in Greenland to the largest meteorite in the world and immediately announced his determination to possess it.

Lieutenant Peary, however claimed the meteorite by right of discovery and warned the professor not to attempt to remove it. Last week the dispatches announced that Lieutenant Peary would sail for Greenland this summer to secure the meteorite. As soon as Prof. Dyche can reach Seattle, he, too, will sail to the north and it is quite probably that his destination is the point in Greenland, where, the coveted meteorite lies.

August 21, 1897, Trenton evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey

Peary Back Again
The July Expedition Returns From Greenland's Shores.

The Last Ton of Goal Burned Steaming into Harbor at Cape Breton but the Ship is Ballasted Well With a Giant Meteorite.

SYDNEY, C. B., September 21.

The steam sealing bark Hope, with Lieutenant R. E. Peary and party on board, returning from north Greenland, arrived here late yesterday afternoon. All on board are well.

The Hope came into port burning her last ton of coal and with her bulwarks and decks giving evidence of the furious seas of an unusually stormy summer. She is nearly as deep in the water as when she left here in the latter part of July with her bunkers full of coal for the huge Cape York meteorite, the largest in the world, is in her hold.

Lieutenant Peary has on board also six Cape York Eskimos, who will go with him when he returns next year to attempt to reach the North Pole. The Eskimos have their tent, sledges and canoes. They are eager for the undertaking, and all the arrangements have been made.

The expedition visited Cape Sabine and relics of the ill fated expedition led by Greely have been obtained. The summer in Baffin Bay was marked by almost continuously stormy weather and by an unusual scarcity of ice. The investigating party from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, under Mr. R. W. Porter, landed at Cape Haven on Aug. 3 and did not re-embark until Sept. 13. The party, led by Mr. Hugh Lee, the arctic explorer of Meriden, Conn., landed at Godhaven on Aug. 7, and re-embarked Sept. 7. Professor Schuchert's party, of the National museum, landed at Omenak on August 8, re-embarking on September4. The party led by Mr. Robert Stein of the United States geological survey was on land from August 10 to September 2. The Hope will coal here and then proceeded to New York, where she will land the meteorite.

Map of Peary's North Pole Expedition

Boston on July 19 last for Sydney, was to bring about the establishment of a settlement at a remote northern point in Greenland, which would be used as a base of supplies for an expedition in search of the north pole under Lieutenant Peary in 1898. To this end, according to Lieutenant Peary's plans, as made known at that time, a party of Eskimos was to be established at the new settlement and would during the ensuing 12 months be engaged in making preparations for the expedition.

Robert Peary's Expedition.

The Hope was to skirt the coast of Greenland, dropping scientific parties at various points and taking Lieutenant Peary to Whale sound, where it was proposed to establish the settlement.

In the party as originally constituted were 43 persons, including, besides Lieutenant Peary and Mrs. Peary and their daughter, their servant and the crew, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh J. Lee, who chose a cruise in arctic waters as a wedding trip; Robert Stein of the United States geological survey, Albert Pertly, the well known arctic scenic artist; J. D. Figgins of Falls Church, Va., taxidermist; Dr. Frederick Sohon, surgeon, Washington, and several investigating parties, one under the direction of Professor C. H. Hitchcock of Dartmouth, having in view a study of glaciers and the relics of the old Norse colonists from Iceland; another from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, under Mr. R. W. Porter, whose plan was to hunt the big game of the country and bring back zoological specimens, and a third, headed by Professor Charles Schubert and Mr. C.D. White, representing the National museum, with instructions to examine fossil formations, which it had been claimed tended to prove that Greenland was Once a country of tropical climate. The bringing home of the Cape York meteorite was a secondary, though a scarcely less interesting object of the expedition.

Cape York Meteorite

The Cape York Meteorite -- named for the site in Greenland at which it collided with the earth some 10 thousand years ago -- is 4 1/2 billion years old. The massive meteorite is so heavy that the supports for the largest of the three pieces on view at the American Museum of Natural History go through the floor straight down to the bedrock beneath the building.

Meteorites are meteors that reach the surface of the earth without having disintegrated. The Cape York Meteorite, which comes from the center of a small planet that was broken apart, is a type known as an iron meteorite; it is composed of metallic iron and nickel, similar to the metallic core at the center of the earth. The metal, exposed at one end of the largest piece, reveals some of the meteorite's history.

The Cape York Meteorite was discovered in 1894 by Arctic explorer Robert Peary, who brought it to New York three years later, after several expeditions to the site. For centuries it had been used by Eskimos as a source of iron for knives and other weapons (by the time Peary discovered the meteorite, the Eskimos were able to obtain iron through trade).

This object is old as the planets and the Sun, and that has been used for both practical, everyday purposes and for acquiring important information about how the solar system and planets were formed.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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