GREAT GEYSER IN HAUKADALUR VALLEY -- THE OLDEST KNOWN GEYSER IN THE WORLD
A vacation to Iceland the land of extremes -- hot geysers, volcanoes and ice or glaciers. Iceland is thought of as an Arctic country but it lies below the Arctic Circle. It is closer to Scotland than Scandinavia.
The second largest island measures about 102,820 km and has only a population of 260,000. Half of it lives in or around Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Apparently, many Icelanders are related to each other.
Iceland is the most northerly of Europe's islands. It is separated by almost 1000 km of ocean from Norway. Some of the islands around the coast are inhabited. There are the Grimsey Island near the Arctic Circle, the Krisey and further 13 Western Islands.
ERUPTION OF EYJAFJALLAJOKULL -- WHICH CLOSED DOWN THE EUROPEAN AIRSPACE
Iceland is sitting on the Atlantic Ridge and was built-up over 20 million years through volcanoes which erupt every five years.
The landscape is breathtaking because of it bleakness. It has no vegetation on 75% of the country. Ice-caps cover 11% and the rivers are rushing down from the glaciers are debris-laden. Geysers which spout steam and boiling water adding to the fascinating scenery. The many hot springs are very popular for bathing.
Half of Iceland lies above 400m and together with the northerly latitude give the country a very short growing season. Plants are mosses, heathers, sedges, grasses and lichens.
It is a paradise for birds, especially waterfowl. The eider duck is well known because of the soft filling for bedding. The other animals are the Arctic Fox and some reindeer. The Icelandic pony is very hardy and found domesticated as well as wild. The coastal waters are home of 17 species of whales and two species of seals.
THE TRADITIONAL ICELANDIC TURF-HOUSES -- UNTIL THE 20TH CENTURY THE MAJORITY OF ICELANDERS LIVED IN RURAL AREAS
It is a prosperous nation, low unemployment and inflation. Health and education are perfect. The people live in modern homes which are heated from geothermal sources (hot springs). The pollution is very low, even in the cities.
It is surprising that about 25% of the population make their living from farming considering the disadvantages they have, climate wise. The main crop is grass which is made into hay. This feeds the country's huge number of cattle and sheep. Potatoes and turnips are also grown. Vegetables and fruit are grown in greenhouse heated by hot springs.
The most important industry is and always was fishing. The waters were rich in cod, herring and haddock but lately the stock is in declining because of overfishing. Their main customers are the United Kingdom but the demand is also in decline. A light industry produces blankets and knitwear.
However, many of the necessities have to be imported, such as petroleum products, transport equipment, textiles, foodstuffs, animal feeds and timber.
The two major natural resources; hydroelectric and geothermal energy are used for industry and domestic.
It is assumed that the first settlers came from Norway and Ireland. A parliament (Althing) was set up in the 10th century. During 1000 AD Christianity was adopted by the people.
In 1380, Norway united with Denmark, Iceland because part of the Danish Crown. From there on the Icelanders suffered worsening climate, poverty, disease and trade restrictions from the Danes. The Danes abolished the Althing and people migrated to Canada and the USA.
The leader Jon Sigursson managed to get more freedom for his people and the Althing established again. In 1903 Iceland was given home rule and in 1918 the Danes agreed for the Icelander to be an independent nation, but still under the Danish crown.
During the WWII when the Germany occupied Denmark the Allied troops moved into Iceland for protection.
1944 Iceland became an independent republic and 1949 a member of NATO
ALTHING -- THE NATIONAL PARLIAMENT IN REYKJAVIK
A holiday in Iceland will be a complete different experience from all the other holidays you spent. Nevertheless, it will be an unforgettable experience. As it is a land of geysers, volcanoes and ice or glaciers you will see them all and will be have an awesome sight as nature always is. A trip to watch whales or birds will leave you with an incredible impression for the rest of your life.
A trip across the country shows an awesome landscape with various volcanic rocks of different colours. A bath in the many hot spring will rejuvenate you beyond believes.
During the short summer July- August you can smell and see the native flowers which you won't find anywhere else in the world.
If you are a horse lover you will love the Icelandic ponies which again are unique to the country.
The capital Reykjavik is a cosmopolitan city with chic Scandinavian stores, top restaurants and all that surrounded by an astonishing landscape. It further offers an experience of the incredible northern lights and a visit to the thermal baths of the Blue Lagoon.
Bottom of FormTop of Form