CLOSER THAN YOU THINK
Iceland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is home to a progressive and peaceful nation that has formed a modern society where freedom and equality are held in high regard. Iceland continuously ranks near the top for measurements of quality of life, gender equality, and democracy, and is one of the highest ranked countries in the world for health care, education and internet availability.
Iceland is a country of extreme geological contrasts. Widely known as “The Land of Fire and Ice”, Iceland is home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe, and some of the world’s most active volcanoes. Iceland is also the land of light and darkness. Long summer days with near 24-hours of sunshine are offset by short winter days with only a few hours of daylight.
The cornerstone of Icelandic culture is the Icelandic language, which has spawned a literary tradition that dates back to the ancient Icelandic Sagas. These are tales of violent blood feuds, traditions, family, and character. A strong literary tradition still thrives in modern Iceland. Icelandic authors publish more books per capita than any other country in the world. Iceland also boasts a prospering music scene, a burgeoning film industry, and Icelandic design is coming of age.
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A Country of Creatives
For an isolated culture in the North Atlantic, creativity is important. Ever since Iceland was settled in the 9th century, writing and music have been an integral part of life in the country; and have in recent years reached a large audience on the global stage thanks to the efforts of international pop stars such as Björk and Sigur Rós, as well as the wide readership of authors like Halldór Laxness, Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.
Icelanders have long enjoyed one of the highest life expectancies in the world. There is no definitive explanation for this, but a clean environment and a healthy diet and lifestyle probably have something to do with it. The Icelandic diet is rich in quality raw materials, farmed, bred and caught in an unpolluted environment, and produced with the utmost care.
The Place for Adventure
Iceland remains largely uninhabited, with more than half of its 320,000 inhabitants living in the capital city. In fact, a mere twenty-minute drive from Reykjavík center takes you out of the hubbub of city life and into the seclusion of Iceland's spectacular landscapes, which inspire adventures from its shores to its mountaintops.
Iceland was the last country in Europe to be settled. To this day, it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Located in the middle of the North Atlantic, Iceland was settled by emigrants from Scandinavia and the British Isles in the tenth century. Due to Iceland's geographical location, it was mostly outside the influence of contemporary culture in Europe and America, until the late nineteenth century.
Iceland is home to the largest glaciers in Europe, as well as some of the world's most active volcanoes, and is widely known as "The Land of Fire and Ice". But Iceland escapes definition. It is also the land of light and darkness. Its location, just below the Arctic Circle, makes for long summer days with near 24-hours of sunlight; offset by short winter days with very little sunlight at all. Fortunately, while winters in Iceland are dark, they are relatively mild and play host to one of nature's most spectacular exhibitions of beauty; the Aurora Borealis.
People and Language
Iceland was the last country to be settled in Europe, when emigrants from Scandinavia and the British Isles first came to live on the island in the ninth and tenth century. It remains the most sparsely populated country of the continent with less than three inhabitants per square kilometer.