Where the Name Fits the Place—or Does it?

Is Greenland Green?

No. Much of Greenland is covered with a thick blanket of ice. The Viking explorers called it Greenland in order to lure settlers!

Is the Dead Sea Dead?

Yes. There is no life in this sea between Israel and Jordan. It is a dead end for the Jordan River. With no place to go, the water evaporates and leaves heavy deposits of minerals, which makes the sea uninhabitable and much saltier than the oceans.

Is It Chilly in Chile?

Yes and no. The southern region of Chile is cold and humid, with snow-covered mountains and glaciers. The northern region is warm and dry. The middle region is warm and balmy, much like the Mediterranean.

Is the Red Sea Red?

Yes. Red algae frequently appear in this sea, coloring it red. The Red Sea is in the Middle East between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Are There Emeralds in the Emerald Isle?

No. Ireland is called the Emerald Isle because of its green countryside, not because of gemstones. The intensely green landscape is the result of underlying limestone and frequent rains and mists.

Is Iceland Icy?

Not very. Natural hot springs warm the buildings and pools of this island. The harbors never freeze because of the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which flows around the island. The only ice is in Iceland's high central area, which is covered with snow.

Are There Canaries in the Canary Islands?

Yes. Wild canaries were first discovered on these islands. But the name Canary comes from the wild dogs found here by the Romans. (Canis is Latin for “dog.”) The Canary Islands are in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa.

Is the Yellow River Yellow?

Yes. The Yellow River (or Huang Ho) is a 3,000-mile-long river in China. It carries tons of yellow silt (soil), which gives the river its color.

Is Red Square Red?

No. Red Square in Moscow is so named because Red means “beautiful” in Russian.

Are There Spices in the Spice Islands?

Yes. The Spice Islands, in Indonesia, are now called the Moluccas. They are rich in spices such as nutmeg and cloves.

Is There Ivory on the Ivory Coast?

Yes. The Ivory Coast of Africa was once the center of the ivory trade for Europeans, who slaughtered elephants to obtain their valuable ivory tusks.


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