Map of Iceland
Iceland is a country in the North Atlantic Ocean, located in an island between Greenland and Norway. The northern tip of Iceland reaches the Arctic Circle. It measures about 485 km, from east to west, and about 360 km, from north to south. Iceland is considered to be a part of Europe.
Geologically, Iceland is very young. It was formed by volcanic eruptions during the last 60 million years. A large number of volcanoes are still active on the island. Earthquakes are frequent, and hot springs bubble to the surface in volcanic areas, especially in the southwest. Steam rising from hot springs in a southwestern bay gave rise to the name of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík. Today, abundant geothermal energy provides much of Iceland’s heating needs.
Despite its northerly location, Iceland is not an Arctic country. The island’s climate is tempered by the warm waters of the North Atlantic Drift, a part of the Gulf Stream. The seacoast is open for ships nearly all year-round. It is closed only in the north and east during the winter, when ice descends from the polar region.
Icelandic culture derives from the island’s 9th century Viking settlers. Icelanders are proud of their Viking heritage, and many people can trace their family roots to the earliest settlers. The Icelandic language is closely related to Old Norse, the language of the Vikings, and it has changed very little since ancient times.
Icelanders inhabit a rugged land with few mineral or agricultural resources. About three-quarters of the island is barren of vegetation. Plant life consists largely of grasslands, which are grazed by livestock, especially sheep, cattle, and sturdy Icelandic ponies. Many varieties of fish live in the surrounding ocean waters, and the fishing industry has traditionally been a cornerstone of Iceland’s economy. Today, fishing and fish processing account for more than half of Iceland’s total exports.
Source: U.S. CIA.
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