The Vikings were fierce, hardy, and brave people who lived in Scandinavia, the frigid northern lands of Europe.
Traveling in longboats, long, narrow ships with square sails and oars, the Vikings plundered Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland, and the coasts of northern Europe from about A.D. 800 to about A.D. 1100. They sacked monasteries, slaughtered the monks, looted the gold, and hauled food back to their ships before disappearing again onto the dark waters of the North Sea.
From about A.D. 790, the Vikings terrorized northern Europe, even traveling east and south through Russia to make contact with Arab traders in Baghdad.
In the 800s and 900s, land in Scandinavia became scarce, and some Vikings began to settle in foreign lands. Driven by the need for land and a hunger for wealth and adventure, these intrepid people turned westward and became the first Europeans to discover and colonize North America, almost 500 years before Columbus sailed.