Iceland is a Nordic country between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. It has a population of 325,671 and an area of 103,000 km², making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík; the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country are... MORE
Iceland is a Nordic country between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. It has a population of 325,671 and an area of 103,000 km², making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík; the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country are home to two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists mainly of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers, while 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. According to Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in AD 874 when the chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent Norse settler on the island. In the following centuries, Norsemen settled Iceland, bringing with them thralls of Gaelic origin. From 1262 to 1918, Iceland was ruled by Norway and later Denmark. The country became independent in 1918 and a republic in 1944. Until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on fishing and agriculture. LESS
Iceland's Bardabunga volcano has been erupting since Aug. 29, with lava shooting out of the ground on the Holuhraun lava field about halfway between that volcano and a neighboring volcano called Askja. The lava has flown out of the collapsed crater of Bardabunga, known as a caldera, in a nearly 30 mile long dyke, before reaching the Earth's surface. The scientists are still unsure exactly how the eruption will proceed from here. It could eventually result in flooding or an ash-producing eruption that would disrupt trans-Atlantic air travel and, if it is large enough, exert a cooling influence in the Earth's climate. For now, though, the eruption is relatively benign, and absolutely beautiful.
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