Iceland

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About

Geyser

  • Iceland is a mountainous island in the North Atlantic Ocean, located between Europe and North America.
  • The country is considered European even though it is not part of the continental mainland.
  • Although 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers, it has a surprisingly mild climate and numerous geothermal hot-spots.
  • Iceland has a population of about 320,000.
  • The capital and largest city is Reykjavík.
  • Iceland is volcanically and geologically active.
  • The interior mainly consists of a plateau, sand fields, and mountains and glaciers.
  • The official language of Iceland is Icelandic. Most people in Iceland can speak and understand English. Many people, especially the elderly, know Danish and other Scandinavian languages.
  • Iceland uses the metric system only. There is limited knowledge of Imperial or US measurements.

 

HISTORY

  • Iceland was settled in 874 AD.
  • The first settler was Ingólfur Arnarson, who settled in Reykjavík.
  • Many of the early settlers of Iceland were small lords and kings from Norway.
  • Iceland suffered greatly under the rule of the Danish monarchy.
  • In 1550, Iceland was forced to disown Catholicism and adopt Lutheranism. With this being a state religion, it gave the Danish monarch greater power.
  • In the 19th century a long battle for independence was fought with the Danish government.
  • Although Iceland kept gaining ground from the late 19th century, it was not until June 1944, that Iceland regained its full independence and established the current Republic of Iceland.

 

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FACTS

    Traditional Grass Roof Houses

    • The capital of Iceland is known as Reykjavik, which means ‘Smoky Bay’. This place has a population of approximately 108,000 people.
    • Apt to its name, almost 7,250 sq. kilometers of Iceland is covered with ice and glaciers. Out of the total area, land measures around 100,250 sq. kilometers and water is spread over an area of 2,750 sq. kilometers.
    • Iceland boasts of an impressive healthcare system and the life expectancy in this place is one of the highest in the world; 81.3 years for women and 76.4 for men.
    • The literacy rate of Iceland is 99.9%. This is attributed to the fact that education is compulsory for children aged between 7-16 years. The literacy rate of Iceland is the highest in the world.
    • Iceland’s deepest lake is Oskjuvatn, situated near Viti and the deepest point goes down to around 220 meters. The highest peak of Iceland is Hvannadalshnjukur and goes to a height of 2,119 meters.
    • In Iceland, only 1% land is considered arable and cultivation is possible only on that area. Only a quarter of the country is covered with vegetation and just about 1% in that is covered with trees!
    • Iceland is home to a variety of flora and fauna and has some really exotic species of birds and animals. The wild animals include arctic fox, mink, mice, rats, rabbits, polar bears, whales and reindeer. The bird population basically comprises of a variety of sea birds.
    • Iceland is considered as the 4th most productive country in the world on the basis of nominal Gross Domestic Product per capita, which is US$54,858 and the 5th most productive on the basis of GDP at purchasing power parity, which is US$40,112.

Avg. Costs

Blue Lagoon

  • Expect to spend around 600 to 800 ISK on a beer or a glass of wine
  • 2500 ISK on a pizza for one person
  • 350 ISK on a city bus ride
  • Cigarettes cost around 950 ISK for a packet of 20
  • CDs tend to cost 1500 to 2000 ISK
  • 400 – 1500 ISK for a hamburger
  • 150 – 250 ISK for a hotdog
  • 1500 – 3500 ISK for a three-course meal in a restaurant

 

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Currency

Information is coming soon.

Safety

Puffin

  • Emergency phone number: 112
  • Iceland is one of the safest places in the world, so there is almost no chance of getting robbed or harassed.
  • With that said, it does exclude Reykjavík, which has recently begun to suffer instances of petty theft and night-time violence.
  • Use common sense when enjoying the night life and be alert.
  • Driving around Iceland can be difficult or even dangerous. Be aware that many roads are unpaved and can turn into slippery mud during the summer.
  • Sheep sometimes roam near the roads or even on them, so always have your eyes open and be on the lookout for sheep.

Climate

Iceland Road

  • Despite its name, Iceland has surprisingly mild winters.
  • Iceland enjoys a maritime temperate climate.
  • Winters are often compared with those of New England, although the winds in winter can be bitter.
  • The rapidly changing weather has given rise to the local saying: ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes!’
  • The summers are usually cooler and more temperate than elsewhere at the same latitude, with temperatures sitting around 20 to 25°C, which is considered quite warm.
  • The recommended best time to travel is the summer.

Places to See

Thingvellir National Park

Lake Mývatn Conservation Area

  • The Mývatn region was set aside as a special Conservation area in 1974
  • It is one of the most geologically active and stunningly beautiful areas in Iceland
  • Check out the bubbling mud flats, volcanic craters, newborn lava fields, teeming birdlife, and crystal blue lake
  • The waterfall of the Gods is one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls and is also located in the park

View Map

 

 

 

The Westmann Islands

  • Swarming with wildlife, this is the place where Free Willy has chosen to make his home
  • Back in November 1963, a fresh volcano broke through the waves, creating the world’s youngest island, Surtsey
  • Tours of the islands can be arranged

View Map

 

 

 

Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Snaefellsjokull Glacier

  • Despite lying 60 miles away from Reykjavik, Snaefellsjokull glacier is visible from the city on a clear day
  • The Glacier was mentioned in Jules Verne’s book, Journey to the Center of the Earth
  • The Snaefellsnes peninsula is a magical landscape including lava caves, waterfalls, and hot springs.

View Map

 

 

 

Thingvellir

  • Thingvellir is located about 50km east of Reykjavík and is one of the most important sites in Iceland
  • Iceland’s parliament, the Althing, first met here in AD930 at a time when most of the rest of the world was involved in feudalism and conflict
  • The parliament met here to resolve conflicts and make laws for more than 300 years
  • Check out the cliff overlooking the Althing where speakers stood to address the parliament gatherings from the top
  • You can fish in Lake Thingvallavtn, the largest natural lake of the country or hike through the wonderful natural landscape of the Thingvellir National Park.

View Map

 

 

 

The Blue Lagoon

  • The Blue Lagoon is the most photographed natural feature in Iceland and probably the most ghostly looking body of water in the world
  • Blue-green algae and white Silica mud form on the bottom of the lagoon giving it its opaque, aquamarine colour
  • This man-made lagoon has a water temperature of 40C, and is said to have curative powers, especially for psoriasis

View Map

 

 

 

The Vidimyri Turf Church

  • Vidimyri is considered to be one of the finest examples of Icelandic architecture
  • Built in 1834 from a mixture of driftwood and turf, it is probably one of the strangest buildings that you will ever see
  • This strange architectural style stems from a lack of natural resources. It has been preserved as a monument and still functions as a parish church

View Map

 

 

 

Skógar Folk Museum

  • The Skógar Folk Museum is a very interesting museum with a collection of over 6,000 artifacts and examples of various types of Icelandic dwellings from earliest times

View Map

Etiquette

Communication Etiquette:
• Very diverse culture
• They will be direct in both a business situation and an informal meeting
– Expect this and do not be offended
• Handshake is the most traditional form of greeting
– At the start and when you are leaving
– Maintain eye contact
– Shake everyone’s hand
• Individuals take great pride in their appearance

Business Etiquette:
• After handshake it is common practice to exchange business cards upon meeting
• Appointments are made in advance
– Use the 24-hour clock when making plans for meetings and appts.
– Always arrive in advance
• Both men and women dress formally in business
– Few may dress casual during business
• They are often very direct when speaking
– English is very widely spoken
• They place a great amount of importance on independency and self-sufficiency

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