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More than two hundred years ago, Russian explorers and fur hunters landed on the Aleutian Islands and learned of a land mass that lay farther to the north.

What does the underlined part mean?

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The people that lived on the islands told the explorers about the land which is now the state of Alaska. This land was north of the islands.

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More than two hundred years ago, Russian explorers and fur hunters landedon the Aleutian Islands and learned of a land mass that lay farther to the north.

what does the underlined part mean?

 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.