| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
Iceland or ═sland is a Nordic island country in the North
Atlantic Ocean, with a population of 357,000 and an area of 103,000 km2.
The capital and largest city is ReykjavÝk.
Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of
a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers,
and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is
warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high
latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine
influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a polar
The Sagas of Icelanders say that a Norwegian named Naddodd (or Naddador) was
the first Norseman to reach Iceland, and in the 9th century he named it
SnŠland or "snow land" because it was snowing. Following Naddodd, the Swede
Garar Svavarsson arrived, and so the island was then called Gararshˇlmur
which means "Garar's Isle".
Then came a Viking named Flˇki Vilgerarson; his daughter drowned en route,
then his livestock starved to death. The sagas say that the rather
despondent Flˇki climbed a mountain and saw a fjord (Arnarfj÷rur) full of
icebergs, which led him to give the island its new and present name
According to the ancient manuscript Landnßmabˇk, the settlement of Iceland
began in 874 AD when the Norwegian chieftain Ingˇlfr Arnarson became the
first permanent settler on the island. In the following centuries,
Norwegians, and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians, emigrated to
Iceland, bringing with them thralls (i.e., slaves or serfs) of Gaelic
The island was governed as an independent commonwealth under the Althing,
one of the world's oldest functioning legislative assemblies. Following a
period of civil strife, Iceland acceded to Norwegian rule in the 13th
century. The establishment of the Kalmar Union in 1397 united the kingdoms
of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Iceland thus followed Norway's
integration into that union, coming under Danish rule after Sweden's
secession from the union in 1523. Although the Danish kingdom introduced
Lutheranism forcefully in 1550, Iceland remained a distant semi-colonial
territory in which Danish institutions and infrastructures were conspicuous
by their absence.
On 31 December 1943, the DanishľIcelandic Act of Union expired after 25
years. Beginning on 20 May 1944, Icelanders voted in a four-day plebiscite
on whether to terminate the personal union with Denmark, abolish the
monarchy, and establish a republic. The vote was 97% to end the union, and
95% in favour of the new republican constitution. Iceland formally became a
republic on 17 June 1944.
A geologically young land, Iceland is the surface expression of the Iceland
Plateau, a large igneous province forming as a result of volcanism from the
Iceland hotspot and along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the latter of which runs
right through it. This means that the island is highly geologically active
with many volcanoes including Hekla, Eldgjß, Herubrei, and Eldfell.
Iceland has many geysers, including Geysir, from which the English word is
derived, and the famous Strokkur, which erupts every 8ľ10 minutes.
Renewable sourcesŚgeothermal and hydropowerŚprovide effectively all of
Iceland's electricity and around 85% of the nation's total primary energy
Around three-quarters of the island is barren of vegetation; plant life
consists mainly of grassland, which is regularly grazed by livestock. The
most common tree native to Iceland is the northern birch Betula pubescens,
which formerly formed forests over much of Iceland, along with aspens Populus
tremula, rowans Sorbus aucuparia, common junipers Juniperus communis,
and other smaller trees, mainly willows.
When the island was first settled, it was extensively forested, with around
30% of the land covered in trees. Today, many farms have been abandoned.
Three-quarters of Iceland's 100,000 square kilometres is affected by soil
erosion, 18,000 km2 serious enough to make the land useless. Only a few small birch stands now exist in isolated reserves.
The only native land mammal when humans arrived was the Arctic fox,
which came to the island at the end of the ice age, walking over the frozen
sea. On rare occasions, bats have been carried to the island with the winds,
but they are not able to breed there. Polar bears occasionally come over
from Greenland, but they are just visitors, and no Icelandic populations
exist. No native or free-living reptiles or amphibians are on the island.
Nowadays, the animals of Iceland include the Icelandic sheep, cattle,
chickens, goats, the sturdy Icelandic horse, and the Icelandic Sheepdog,
mink, mice, rats, rabbits, and reindeer, all descendants of animals imported
by Europeans. Around 1,300 species of insects are known in Iceland.
Birds are more common: Around 85 different species nest regularly in
Iceland, although around 330 have been recorded here since the settlement.
Most are sea- or beach birds, but here are also Ravens, Rock Ptarmigan,
Common Starling, Snowy Owl, Gyrfalcon, White-Tailed Eagle, several pigeons
and dove, Cuckoos, Swifts, Storks, Great Tit, Larks, Warblers, Swallows,
Osprey and quite some more.
Marine mammals include the grey seal Halichoerus grypus and harbour
Iceland has 13,034 km of administered roads, of which 4,617 km are paved and
8,338 km are not. Route 1, or the Ring Road (Icelandic: Ůjˇvegur 1 or
Hringvegur), was completed in 1974, and is a main road that runs around
Iceland and connects all the inhabited parts of the island, with the
interior of the island being uninhabited. This paved road is 1,332 km.
The flight, car and hostels are booked, now I just hope
the Covid-19 situation allows me to go 1/7-15/7 2021.