The history of the Vikings is closely connected to their role as conquerors of the sea. It was their seamanship and magnificent shipbuilding techniques that laid the foundation for the Viking expeditions, The Viking voyages of discovery were based on many generations of experience as a seafaring people. At the beginning of the Viking age their technical ability had reached such heights that it was possible to make long sea voyages. Their ships were easy to row and quick to sail. They had a shallow draught and could land on open, unprotected beaches. Surprise was an important element in the Viking strategy. The Vikings wrought havoc, plundered and fought, but they were also traders, emigrants and explorers. Around AD 1000 the Viking expansion had reached its outer limits, with settlements of Nordic peoples on the continent, which 500 years later would be called America.