Iceland (Lýdveldid Ísland) is a parliamentary republic located in Northern Europe on an island near the Arctic Circle between 63°latitude N and 66°latitude N. It is 260 km away from Greenland and 1.000 km from Norway. The island was colonized by the Vikings in the ninth century they established permanent settlements there. Iceland was a Danish colony since the Middle Ages and remained such until the mid-twentieth century. Iceland, in fact, gained its independence from Denmark after a plebiscite in 1944.
The Icelandic landscape is barren, almost like a moonscape, but beautiful and charming with a rough nature, with glaciers, waterfalls, volcanoes, mountains, plateaus, and rivers. The beauty of the Icelandic landscape is the reason why tourism is an important resource for the country, even if the economy is still largely based on fishing and related activities.
Iceland is full of volcanoes (over 200) – some of them are active – and vast glaciers. Vatnajökull in the south-east of the island is the biggest volcanoe and measures 8.456 square kilometers. The interior of the island consists of a vast plateau. Near the southern coast Mount Hvannadalshnúkur reaches 2.119 meters above sea level.
With more than 6.000 km of coastline the coast in the south is low and sandy, while in other areas the coast is high and rocky, jagged by fjords and falling sharply down to the sea with steep cliffs. The rivers like the Thjórsá have a fairly regular watercourse, but depending on the melting of the snow. Their courses are often marked by the presence of spectacular waterfalls. Some of them are among the most beautiful and frequently visited attractions of the country.
English text correction by Dietrich Köster.
- Area: 102.810 sq km
- Population: 293.000
- State Capital: Reykjavik
- Language: Icelandic. English is widely spoken and understood.
- Religion: Evangelical Lutheran Church (State Religion).
- Currency: Króna (ISK)
- Time: Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) throughout the year and does not go on daylight saving time.