– Arctic, Tundra And Eskimos –

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We all know that Italy is cooler than India, while England is cooler than Italy. Let us remember this simple weather fact. The further we travel from the Equator, the colder the climate, we get. And when we travel north or south as far as we can go and reach the North or South Pole, we find ourselves in a strange white world of snow. These are the Polar Regions where no one lives and nothing grows. Why?

Look at the map of the world. One of the lines about which we have already learned something is called the Arctic Circle. Every place to the north of this line has at least one complete period of 24 hours darkness every year. The coldest places in the world are generally between the Arctic Circle and the North Pole. But as the Arctic Circle is merely a line drawn on maps and globes, there is no sudden change on the surface of the earth itself. The same cold climate carries for some distance south. This very cold region lying around the Arctic Circle is called the Tundra Region.

Here the winters are long, cold and dreary while the summers are short and cool. The sun is warm enough in summer to melt part of the ice and snow, making growth possible. Clumps of tough, wiry grass and small, stunted trees grow in most parts. Large trees cannot grow as the long roots can not push their way through the frozen ground (Permafrost) which lies 45 – 60 cm below the surface. Flowerless plants called lichens, are common. As these plants need only moisture and as they have no roots, they grow even on frozen surfaces completely covered with snow. Some people in Iceland make bread from lichen moss while reindeer moss (another lichen) forms the principal food for that very useful Tundra animal – the Reindeer. In sheltered parts of the Tundra – Alaska, Iceland, Greenland and Lapland – wild flowers and many kinds of berries grow during the short summer months. But, on the whole, the Tundra is a cold bleak regin where human life is very difficult.

The Eskimos, numbering about 30000 are a hardy race living in the Tundra region of Northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland. We often read that Eskimos live in snow houses called igloos but this is not altogether correct. Only about one third of them use igloos while the majority live in pucca houses built of logs of wood or even stone. In summer, they live in skin tents which can be carried easily from place to place. Because of the bitter cold, the Eskimos need plenty of heat giving food and this they find in plenty in their barren land. Their main supply comes from the seal, which strange enough, is not a fish but an animal which has to breathe outside the water

Since the sea is frequently frozen, the seal has to make a breathing hole, in the ice and keep it open by swimming round and round. The Eskimo fisherman wait patiently near those holes for hours and as soon as a seal appears they throw a harpoon at it. This is a weapon with a sharp point and hood attached to a strong leather line. The point enter the seal’s body, the hook prevents the point from coming out while the line gives no chance to the seal to escape beneath the ice. With the same harpoon, the Eskimos also hunt whales and walruses. While the flesh and fat of these animals provide food, the bones are used for making useful instruments such as the sharp harpoon points, hooks, needles and ornaments. Besides sea animals, the Eskimos also hunt the savage polar bear and large hairy caribou. To add a little variety to his usual meals of fish or meat, the Eskimos gather tender shoots and such berries as wild currants and blue berries.

For clothing, the Eskimos wear waterproof shirts made of seal’s intestines, thick fur coats and trousers, furry head hoods and waterproof sealskin boots. All articles of clothing are made by the women folk. On the snow covered land or frozen water, the Eskimos travel on sledges dragged by five, seven or nine strong dogs called huskies. Sounds good.

An Article by: Happychappy andSumopunk

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