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The History of the Arctic Is More Interesting Than You Might Think

The Arctic is named for the constellation "Arktos." It is Greek for "Bear." We know it better as the Little Dipper, which includes the North Star in its "handle."
The Arctic is 5.5 million square miles - which is almost the exact same size as Antarctica. Unlike the bottom of the world which is uninhabited, the Arctic has been inhabited by humans for close to 20,000 years. The people of the area, Eskimos, Inuit, Laplanders, though separated by vast distances and even oceans, seem to share a common heritage.
Arctic exploration began in earnest during the Great Age of Discovery as explorers sought to find a sea route through the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Besides the glory, fame and riches that would be bestowed upon the first to accomplish this feat (most likely the real reason most of them tried to find it), the Northwest Passage would theoretically save months of shipping time spent going around the bottom of South America.
In 1744 the British parliament offered a reward for the discovery of the Northwest Passage. The ship Octavius was the first to attempt the voyage but the crew died in the winter of 1762, stuck in ice.
One of the most famous expeditions was that of English explorer Sir John Franklin. He departed Britain in 1845 with two ships and many men and was never seen again.
In the past few years it has finally become possible to sail the Northwest Passage without an ice breaker, thanks to global warming.
The first person to definitely reach the North Pole was American Explorer Richard Byrd who, with his copilot Floyd Bennett, flew over it in an airplane in 1926. In 1908 and 1909, Frederick Cook and Robert Peary both claimed to have reached the pole by land, but both claims are now considered to by false.
In 2008 Lewis Gordon Pugh attempted to kayak to the North Pole. He was unsuccessful, but that he could even attempt the feat shows the dramatic effects of climate change on the area.

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