The name "Greenland" comes from Scandinavian settlers. In the Icelandic sagas, it is said that Norwegian-born Erik the Red was exiled from Iceland for murder. He, along with his extended family and thralls, set out in ships to find the land that was rumoured to be to the northwest. After settling there, he named the land Grænland ("Greenland"), possibly in order to attract more people to settle there. Greenland was also called Gruntland ("Ground-land") and Engronelant (or Engroneland) on early maps. Whether "Green" is an erroneous transcription of Grunt ("Ground"), which refers to shallow bays, or vice versa, is not known. It should also be noted, however, that the southern portion of Greenland (not covered by glacier) is indeed very green in the summer, and was likely even greener in Erik's time because of the Medieval Warm Period.
Although there is some evidence indicating an early presence of Irish monks, it is generally believed that Iceland was discovered and settled by Norse explorers in the second half of the 9th century AD. The first permanent Norse settler was Ingólfur Arnarson, who built his homestead in Reykjavík in 874. Ingólfur was followed by many other emigrant settlers, largely Norsemen and their Irish slaves. By 930, most arable land had been claimed and the Althing, a legislative and judiciary parliament, founded as the political hub of the Icelandic Free State. Christianity was peacefully adopted in 1000. The Free State lasted until 1262, at which point the political system devised by the original settlers proved unable to cope with the increasing power of Icelandic chieftains.