What does the word Igloo mean? Definition: The Igloo, also known as a snow house, is a round, dome-shaped shelter built of snow, originally constructed by the Inuit Tribe. Igloos were made made from blocks of compacted snow and built in various sizes, sometimes housing up to twenty people. The name Igloo derives from the word 'Iglu' meaning "house, dwelling" in the Eskimo-Aleut language.
Why was the Igloo built as an Inuit shelter or house style?
Every tribe choose a type of housing to suit their lifestyle, the climate, the environment and the natural resources (known as biomes) that were available to them, and the Inuit tribe were no different. The Igloo was chosen as the most suitable type of house for the Inuit tribe who lived in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. The cold, harsh climate and the barren, treeless landscape of the Artic tundra resulted in Igloos or snow houses being built as their shelters.
The Inuit Igloo, the Snow House
The Inuit people were skilled builders and made good use of the snow and ice found in their habitat which they used to make the igloo house. The Inuit built three different types of igloos in different sizes and used for different purposes:
Small igloos were built as temporary shelters for one or two people on hunting trips. The arctic environment can kill a person quickly, which is why two experienced Inuit could build a small igloo in 30 minutes
The medium sized igloo was built as a semi-permanent, one roomed, family dwelling
The largest igloo was the type found in Inuit villages and attached by tunnels to smaller sized igloos as can be seen in the above picture