Iceland – The Island in the North

Iceland is Europe‘s second largest island, after Great Britain, and is located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a land known for extreme contrasts. In Iceland you can find some of Europe‘s largest glaciers and some of the worlds most active volcanoes. Iceland is located on both the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and on the Icelandic hotspot. These two things are the main reason for Iceland‘s existance and are the reason for the island‘s great volcanic activety, earthquakes and geothermal activety. The capital of Iceland is Reykjavík. Reykjavík is the northernmost capital of a sovereign state. There are little fewer than 330.000 residence that live in Iceland, and Reykjavík is home to more then 120.000 people. The interior of Iceland is uninhabited and is called the highlands. For centuries the highlands were virtually inaccessible. The highlands are now open for public, but only in qualified cars. A good way to explore the incredible nature in the highlands is in a modified Arctic Truck!

It is believed that the settlement of Iceland began in 874 AD and was the last country to be settled in Europe. Ingólfur Arnarson was the first to pemanently settle down in Iceland. The people who settled Iceland after him were mainly Norwegians and other smaller groups from other Scandinavian countries. Iceland became sovoreign in 1918 and became independent in 1944.

Isolation and extreme forces of nature have had a great impact on Icelandic culture. The conditions have lead to resilient people with strong family bonds, good sense of tradition and great bond with nature. Icelanders have always been supersticious and many of them believe in the existance of elves and hidden people. They claim that elves live inside of stones and should not be disturbed. Disturbing the elves could result in dire consequences!

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