Iceland – land of volcanoes and glaciers
Iceland is a part of Europe. It lies in the Atlantic Ocean just south of the Arctic Circle. It is northwest of the United Kingdom and southeast of Greenland. There are about 200 volcanoes on the island. Iceland is also known for its glaciers. Vatnajökull, at 8,400 square km, is Europe’s largest glacier. Country’s area is 103,000 square kilometers. The official name is Republic of Iceland.
Nearly all the people are mainly descendants of early settlers from Norway. The main language is Icelandic.
Iceland was one of the world’s first independent, democratic republics. Norway ruled Iceland from 1262 to 1380, when Denmark took over. Iceland regained independence in 1944. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir became the world’s first woman president in 1980.
Öraefajökull is the highest point (2,119 m).
Thjórsá River is the longest river (237 km).
Thingvallavatn is the largest lake (84 sq km).
Earthquakes are frequent in Iceland, but rarely dangerous. The most disastrous ones occurred in the southern lowlands in 1784 and 1896, leaving many farms in ruins.
The Kverköll Glacial Cave is one of the most famous of its kind. It is located at the northern rim of the Vatnajökull glacier. It is about 2,850 meters long and 525 meters deep.
Reykjavik is a capital of the country and its largest town. The word Reykjavik means “bay of smokes”. It refers to the steaming-hot water that spouts from the ground at nearby hot springs. According to legend, a Viking named Ingolfur Arnarson founded the city in 874. Today the town is a major fishing port. Reykjavik is the northernmost capital of the world.
Apparently it’s not uncommon for workers in Iceland to hire a medium to help them if something goes wrong during a construction project.
Iceland is one of the few relatively large countries where there is no railway system.
There is no army and police do not carry weapons.