Vikings were known as seafaring people. Around 700 AD, the weather entered a climactic optimum, a cycle of warmer winters with few severe storms. During this period, Nordic people had ample resources to live and the freedom to pursue new opportunities. They had a keen knowledge of the sea and navigation. They were familiar with many rivers and coastal routes, which they traveled. They had discovered how to construct a central mast that transformed their longboats into agile sailing ships. the Vikings traveled long distances.
The Baltic became a transport route for goods and people. Along the coast, villages and harbors grew. Trading places for furs, metals, slaves, and expensive treasures from afar developed. The five islands of Gotland, Bornholm, Saaremaa, Oland, and Aland became carriers of a shared Baltic culture of trade, fishing, and farming. In the late eighth century, they began to raid and plunder in addition to trading.
The Vikings settled in France, the British Isles, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and along the Baltic and Russian rivers. Eventually they turned to North America as well. The world became present through artifacts, impressions, and with other cultures.