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Overview

Iceland - Overview


Capital: Reykjavík, the northernmost capital in the world
Government: Constitutional republic
Currency: Icelandic króna (ISK)
Area: 103,000 km2
Population: 309,699 (April 2007 est.)
Language: Icelandic (official); English; Nordic; Danish widely spoken
Religion: Lutheran (official) 87.1%, other Protestant 4.1%, Roman Catholic 1.7%, Buddhist 1.6%, other 7.1% (2002)
Electricity: 220V/50Hz (European plug)
Calling Code: 354
Internet TLD: .is
Time Zone: UTC

Iceland, (Icelandic: Ísland) a country nominally in Northern Europe, is a large mountainous island in the north Atlantic Ocean, on the fault between Europe and North America. In a sense, it is a well-named territory, with over 11 per cent of the country covered by glaciers, but in another sense it is not, with a surprisingly mild climate and countless geothermal hot-spots. And of course the native spelling ("Ísland") is appropriate in English as well.

Iceland is a stunningly beautiful place if you enjoy strange and desolate landscapes. Lava fields, lava tubes, plains of fractured rock, ice, fire and steam.

Because it is so close to the Arctic Circle (a small island to the north of the main island crosses it), the amount of daylight varies dramatically by season. The sun sets briefly each night in June, but it doesn't get fully dark before it comes back up again. In March and September, days and nights are about equal, as elsewhere in the world. If you go in December, forget about sight-seeing; it'll be too dark outside. Summer is definitely the best time to go, and even then the tourist traffic is still mild. The midnight sun is a beautiful sight and one definitely not to be missed. It is easy to lose track of time when the sun is still high in the sky at 11pm. Early or late winter, however, can be surprisingly good times to visit. In late January, it is effectively light from about 10am to 5pm, prices are lower than in the high season, and the snow-blanketed landscape is eerily beautiful. (Some sites are, however, inaccessible in the winter).

Regions

Southwest Iceland - Home of the capital, Reykjavík and the majority of the island's population
Westfjords - Sparsely populated, rugged geography
West Iceland
North Iceland - Midnight sun
East Iceland
South Iceland
Interior - Glaciated mountains

Iceland can get very cold during winter although, despite its far northern location, it can be surprisingly warm in summer.


Cities

Reykjavík - The largest city and capital
Akureyri - Capital of the North
Hafnarfjörður - City of elves and an annual Viking festival Hellissandur
Hofn (Höfn) in Hornafjordur
Olafsvik - Coastal town in Snæfellsnes
Skagafjordur The home of the icelandic horse, Glacial river rafting, Old turfhouse / Folk museum Glaumbær and Historical Nature Park Island Drangey
Húsavík
Ísafjörður
Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) - Pompei of the North, volcanic island, great birdlife, largest puffin colony of Europe.


Read more about this country



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