Most of the more than 5,000 residents had to be evacuated, and—although the harbour remained intact—about one-third of the town was destroyed. The landscape in basaltic areas is one of plateau and fjord, characterized by successive layers of lava visible one above the other on the valley sides. More than half of the country’s livestock died. Iceland is known throughout the world for its beautiful and unspoilt nature, although recently, the country has gained further fame through its musical talents, its football team, its financial crisis and its erupting volcanoes. Is Iceland also known as Emerald Isle? After Germany invaded Denmark in 1940, the Allies feared the Nazis would next occupy the neutral Danish territory of Iceland and use it as a strategically important North Atlantic supply post. Iceland’s U-shaped valleys are largely the result of glacial erosion. They are as diverse as they are many, and they are all worth a visit.  Unlike most European countries, however, it is ethnically homogeneous, so much so that genetic researchers have used its inhabitants to study hereditary disorders and develop cures for a host of diseases. Some say it has to do with the freedom they experience as youngsters, with vast open fields of grass to run around in and little contact with anyone except other horses. In 2011, the countryâs GDP was US$ 12 billion, but this had more than doubled by 2017 (US$ 24 billion). The largest, Deildartunguhver, emits nearly 50 gallons (190 litres) of boiling water per second. All free and law-abiding citizens could attend as the assembly passed laws and administered justice. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. Iceland was founded more than 1,000 years ago during the Viking age of exploration and settled by a mixed Norse and Celtic population. As Iceland celebrates the 70th anniversary of its independence, explore 10 surprising facts about the island nation. The basalt sheets tend to tilt somewhat toward the centre of the country. However, the government has not limited their sights just to the physical world of stripping. Here are 10 lesser know facts about the island. A new volcano erupting on the bottom of the sea between November 1963 and June 1967 created the island of Surtsey, off the southwestern coast. We have compiled for you the Ultimate Bucket List of the Must-See Icelandic Waterfalls, and we suggest that you try to see as many of them on your visit to Iceland! Lying on the constantly active geologic border between North America and Europe, Iceland is a land of vivid contrasts of climate, geography, and culture. Geologically young, Iceland contains about 200 volcanoes of various types. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. The most famous of these include Njáls saga , about an epic blood feud, and Grænlendinga saga and Eiríks saga , describing the discovery and settlement of Greenland and Vinland (modern Newfoundland ). They visited every farm on the island, collecting enough short stories to fill six volumes, each numbering around 600 pages! Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Aline. Despite its physical isolation some 500 miles (800 km) from Scotland—its nearest European neighbour—Iceland has remained throughout its history very much a part of European civilization. Its population is surpassed by countries such as Luxembourg, Fiji and Brunei and more than 50 American cities, including New Orleans, Tulsa and the California home of Disneyland. Iceland is a very trendy destination and because you donât want to make the same mistakes as everyone else on your trip, weâve compiled a short list of things you should know before heading that way. Icelandic rye bread, or rúgbrauð, is a staple for Icelandic cuisine. The island is most famous for Piton de la Fournaise (literally meaning "Peak of the Furnace"), which is locally known as "le Volcan" (The Volcano). But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! It is a relatively young nation since it was first inhabited by Vikings from Norway in the late 800s. Iceland isn't really known for any specific building. Many Icelanders, for example, still believe in elves, trolls, and other figures in the mythical landscape of the Norse past, while even Icelanders who live in cities harbour a vision of their country as a pastoral land, in the words of Nobel Prize-winning author Halldór Laxness, of. The appeal of Lopapeysas in Icelandâs cold, wet climate is due to a unique quality of Icelandic sheep. It also did not broadcast during the vacation month of July until 1983. The new island grew to about 1 square mile (2.5 square km) in area and rose more than 560 feet (170 metres) above sea level, a total of 950 feet (290 metres) from the ocean floor. Iceland’s rich democratic tradition dates back more than a millennium to the institution of a national assembly, the Althingi, to govern the island in 930. Source(s): https://shrink.im/baKr5. In a pre-emptive strike codenamed “Operation Fork,” hundreds of British troops landed in the capital city of Reykjavik on the morning of May 10, 1940, and then arrested German citizens and spread inland without resistance. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Some historians believe that Columbus visited Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula on a trading mission in 1477 and there learned of Viking explorations of the New World. It can be described as a mixed economy with both elements of influence from the government and free trade. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. The 74-year beer ban remained in place until March 1, 1989, a date now celebrated annually as Beer Day. Iceland, island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean. For two weeks every summer, chieftains from across Iceland convened in an outdoor assembly on the plains of Thingvellir, a rift valley east of Reykjavik where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates converge. The depressed zones between the basalt areas have extensive plateaus above which rise single volcanoes, table mountains, or other mountain masses with steep sides. Iceland is largely a tableland broken up by structural faults. As Iceland celebrates the 70th anniversary of its independence, explore 10 surprising facts about the island nation. Iceland does not have an army, navy or air force. From 2008 to 2010, Iceland, like most countries, faced a period of the financial crisis, leading to a decline in GDP and employment rate. The occupation force eventually grew to 25,000 British and Canadian troops before the United States took over the occupation on July 7, 1941, five months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The highest point is 6,952 feet (2,119 metres), at Hvannadals Peak, the top of Öræfajökull in Vatnajökull. Soil and climatic conditions are favourable, and it is close to the country’s largest market, Reykjavík and its environs. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Sparkling glaciers, such as Vatna Glacier (Vatnajökull), Europe’s largest, lie across its ruggedly beautiful mountain ranges; abundant hot geysers provide heat for many of the country’s homes and buildings and allow for hothouse agriculture year-round; and the offshore Gulf Stream provides a surprisingly mild climate for what is one of the northernmost inhabited places on the planet. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is estimated that since the year 1500 about one-third of the Earth’s total lava flow has poured out of the volcanoes of Iceland. For eight months in 1783 and 1784, the catastrophic Laki eruption spewed forth 30 billion tons of lava and hundreds of millions of tons of ash and sulfuric acid. What to Know About Iceland . With a population of mere 320 thousand and having been under foreign rule up until 1944, Icelanders can be quite sensitive when it comes to measuring themselves against other (and bigger) countries. Close to Home. 0 0. Giving books as gifts is so common in Iceland that a free book catalog is delivered to each home in the autumn in time for the annual “Christmas Book Flood.”. Iceland is fairly well known for being liberal when it comes to sexual issues, so it may come as a surprise to outsiders that their government voted to ban strip clubs. People there are also known for having a high standard of living. The middle west is divided between fishing and farming and has many places of great natural beauty. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. The 63-member Althingi now meets in Reykjavik, but ceremonial gatherings, such as the ceremony marking Icelandic independence on June 17, 1944, still occur at Thingvellir. Glacier ice and cooled lava each cover approximately one-tenth of the country’s total area. Iceland’s best-known volcano, Hekla, erupted four times in the 20th century: in 1947, 1970, 1980, and 1991; it also had a series of small eruptions in 2000. Time-lapse video of the southern coast of Iceland. Iceland is known for a lot of things, geologically it is known for volcanoes, glaciers and hot springs. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Its average elevation is 1,640 feet (500 metres) above sea level, but one-fourth of the country lies below 650 feet (198 metres). Aurora borealis over the Snaefellsnes peninsula, western Iceland, March 2013. The glaciers are a reminder of Iceland’s proximity to the Arctic Circle, which nearly touches its northernmost peninsula. Everybody needs a good ego-boost every now and then and what better way of doing so than by tooting ones own horn. The Irish monk Dicuil noted in 825 that Iceland saw little winter sun but nights so bright in the summer that “whatever task a man wishes to perform, even picking lice from his shirt, he can manage as well as in clear daylight.” By 874, the Vikings had arrived in Iceland and began permanent settlement of the island they initially called “Snow Land.”. Iceland was the first settlement of Vikings who emigrated from Norway in the medieval times. Fleeing political upheaval and later Viking raids, Irish monks are believed to have been the first to arrive in Iceland as temporary settlers, sometime between the seventh and ninth centuries. Latest. The horses in Iceland have unique features because of the fact that their forefathers were descendants of horses that were brought from Europe. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Itâs a Nordic country, which is also known as the land of fire and ice, thanks to its diverse landscape and nature. A national referendum led to the legalization of most alcoholic beverages in 1935 with one exception—beer containing more than 2.25 percent alcohol. Earthquakes are frequent in Iceland but rarely result in serious damage. The following is a list of ten more facts to know about Reykjavik, Iceland: The western fjords have numerous well-sheltered harbours and good fishing grounds but little lowland suitable for agriculture. These names include colloquial, formal, and poetic forms: Eylenda, fem.âisland, that is to say Iceland  Stephan G. Stephansson Fjarst í eilífðar útsæ vakir eylendan þín. The noxious gas clouds blotted out the sun across Europe and caused freak weather events, such as acid rain and floods. Cruises. Other major population centres are Akureyri, on the north-central coast; Hafnarfjördhur, on the southwestern coast; and Selfoss, in the southern lowlands. The toxic fog poisoned Iceland’s plants and vegetation and decimated its crops. Ireland, not Iceland, is known as the Emerald Isle. Iceland is largely a tableland broken up by structural faults. Far in the eternal yonder sea your island wakes. Its average elevation is 1,640 feet (500 metres) above sea level, but one-fourth of the country lies below 650 feet (198 metres). The capital, Reykjavík (“Bay of Smokes”), is the site of the island’s first farmstead and is a thriving city, handsome in aspect and cosmopolitan in outlook. 10 Florida Beaches that are Great for Avoiding Crowds. Central Intelligence Agency - The World Factbook - Iceland, Iceland - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Iceland - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). While it may be tempting to pick up your own rock while out hiking, it is against Icelandic law to remove them from their habitat. The centre of the country is uninhabited. Iceland What is known for December 5, 2006. Iceland has a small economy that is subject to high volatility. 999 or 1000: Christianity adopted in Iceland. Volcanic activity has been particularly frequent since the 1970s. Traditionally, Iceland has been divided according to the four points of the compass. Resorts. Vatnajökull covers an area of more than 3,000 square miles (8,000 square km) and is about 3,000 feet (900 metres) deep at its thickest point. Alkaline hot springs are found in some 250 areas throughout the country. On The sidewalks in Iceland, sometimes you feel very warm spots because of the underground hot springs! The Gulf Stream warms Iceland’s climate, resulting in average winter temperatures comparable to those of New York City. A sparsely-populated North Atlantic island, Iceland is famous for its hot springs, geysers and active volcanoes. Sort out the facts about islands across the globe. Many names have been used to refer to Iceland in the Icelandic language. Iceland has more hot springs and solfataras—volcanic vents that emit hot gases and vapours—than any other country. 5 years ago. 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