Information on Iceland

iceland-travel.com is an information site on Iceland. New content will be added in the coming days and weeks.

Iceland's Geography
Iceland is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, the second largest island in Europe, covering an area of 103, 000 km2 (39,756 sq.mi). Iceland´s northernmost part is just below the Arctic Circle, between latitudes 63º and 67º N and longitudes 25º and 13º W.

Geologically young, Iceland straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between the Eurasian and American continents; moreover, it is sited directly over a hotspot, the Iceland plume. This unique geological feature makes the country one of the most volcanically active places on Earth. It also causes geothermal phenomena, such as geysers.

Glaciers cover 11% of Iceland, the largest one being Vatnajökull (Vatnajokull) which is 8,300 km2 large, equal to the combined total area of all the glaciers on the continent of Europe. According to the National Land Survey of Iceland, there are 13 major glaciers in the land and a number of smaller ones.

Glacier ice caps often conceal volcanoes - Vatnajokull being one example, whose ice cap hides no less than 7 volcanoes, most of them active. Iceland has at least 200 volcanoes, of various types, including subglacial, shield and stratovolcanoes. Over the past two centuries there have been more than 30 volcanic eruptions. On 20 March 2010 an eruption occurred on Fimmvörðuháls (Fimmvorduhals), creating a 300 m long fissure and 2 new craters within a week. Shortly after, Eyjafjallajökull (Eyjafjallajokull), a stratovolcano (also hidden beneath an ice cap), erupted on 14 April 2010 (for the first time since 1821) sending ash plumes into the sky that disrupted air travel across Europe for days.

Iceland's History
Iceland was settled more than a thousand years ago by Norse Vikings during the Viking Age of exploration. The oldest source, Íslendingabók – The Book of Icelanders, sets the period of settlement at 870-930 AD. The other main source, Landnámabók - The Book of Settlements, states unequivocally that Ingólfur Arnarson came from Norway to settle in Iceland in the year 874 AD, which the archaeological evidence supports. It was Ingólfur Arnarson who gave Reykjavík its name.

In 930 AD, Icelandic settlers founded one of the world´s first republican governments, the Alþingi (Althing). The Althing is the oldest parliamentary institution in the world still in existence.

Icelanders
Population of Iceland is as many thousands as Americans are millions – so, just over 320,000. About half of the population lives in Reykjavik, or the Greater Reykjavik Area, along the coast. The central highlands are also inhabited. Out of the area of 103,000 km2, only 20% of the land is inhabited, making Iceland extremely popular with nature enthusiasts.

Icelanders are great readers: more books are written, published and sold in Iceland than anywhere else on the planet. One in ten Icelanders is likely to publish something in their lifetime. Icelanders are also extremely tech-savvy, and are at the forefront of the latest advances in scientific expertise and innovation. At the same time, Icelandic language, which has changed little since the Viking times, is carefully safeguarded, and customs and traditions are upheld. One of these traditions is Icelanders’ generous hospitality.

Here on iceland-travel.com you will be able to find wide-ranging, comprehensive information on most aspects of Iceland. New content is regularly being added.