Iceland (Ísland) is an island country located in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean.
The territory of the state consists of the island of Iceland (the second largest in Europe) and small islets near it. The name of the country literally means ice country. The length of the island from west to east is 480 km. The northernmost point of Iceland reaches the Arctic Circle, 66° N, and the distance from north to south is 300 km.
The formation of the unique natural landscape of the island was influenced by "fire and ice, wind and water", this is the result of constant volcanic activity and the mobility of glaciers. The geology of the country is quite young. Processes that ended millions of years ago in other parts of the world are still going on in Iceland.

Capital: the city of Reykjavik (200 thousand people).

The country's area is 103 thousand square kilometers.

Population: 390.000 people. The population density is 4 people per 1 sq. km. The share of urban population is 90%, rural – 10%. National composition: 80% are Icelanders, 20% are the rest (mostly Europeans). Average life expectancy: 80 years.

Official language: Icelandic, belongs to the Scandinavian group of Germanic languages and comes from Old Norse. English is widely spoken and the majority of the population understands it.

Currency: Icelandic Krona (ISK)

State religion: Lutheranism.

International telephone code: +354.

Local time is UTC (also GMT).
Iceland is located at the junction of the North American and European plates, which are gradually moving away from each other. Along the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean lies a mountain range called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge; the boundary of the aforementioned plates runs along it. High seismic and volcanic activity is observed at the fault site and it runs through the whole of Iceland in the direction from southwest to northeast. All active volcanoes of the country are located on it. Other parts of the island were formed earlier - the earlier, the further they are located from this zone. The Eastern and Western Fjords are the oldest areas of the country.
In large areas of the country, the temperature of the earth's surface is increased, although unevenly - depending on the age of the corresponding layers of the earth and on the distance from active volcanoes. Underground heat is associated with volcanic activity, as it is formed when rainwater is absorbed into the ground and comes into contact with hot rocks and magma. From them, the water heats up, increases in volume and comes to the surface of the earth. There are about 300 such geothermal zones in Iceland.
Despite the fact that the divergence of lithospheric plates constantly affected the formation of the island, the main role in giving the country its current appearance was played by glaciers formed during the ice age. They cut through the layers of the earth and carved deep valleys and fjords in Western Iceland, on the Western Fjords, in Northern Iceland and in the area of the Eastern Fjords. Glaciers cover more than 10% of the country and are among the largest in the world. The largest cover glacier - Vatnajökull is located in the south-east of the island. This is a vast ice plateau, where the highest point of the country is located, the height of which is 2.119 meters above sea level.
The climate is temperate, with cool and humid summers and windy winters. The average temperature in January is -1, in July +15, it is colder in the mountains. The weather here is very changeable. This is due to the fact that the island, located in the middle of the ocean, is subject to changing fronts and pressure levels in a very short period of time. The confluence of the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which move from the Caribbean Sea, with the cold currents of the Arctic, moving in the opposite direction, guarantee unpredictable weather. During the whole summer in Iceland there are "white nights", but in December the daylight lasts no more than 5 hours.
Iceland was settled in the IX–X centuries and since then it has been inhabited mainly by descendants of the first settlers. The fact is that since a long time ago, immigration to the island has been severely limited. Until the middle of the XX century, the majority of the population lived on isolated farms. In the history of the country, there have been sharp reductions in the number of inhabitants due to epidemics, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and famine.
Throughout the 20th century, there was a constant migration of rural residents to cities in Iceland. Currently, 95% of the population lives in cities and towns, with 40% concentrated in the capital - Reykjavik. In the northern part of the country, settlements are concentrated along the coast and in river valleys. The average life expectancy is quite high - 79.8 years. It is not surprising that in 2008 Iceland was recognized as the most favorable country for life in Europe.

Icelanders are predominantly of Scandinavian origin, being mainly descendants of Vikings who migrated to the island in the early Middle Ages. Part of the population are descendants of Celts from Ireland and Scotland. Icelandic is essentially a dialect of Old Norse. But for 1000 years, since the time of the Vikings, it has changed little, unlike other Scandinavian languages: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian.
Modern Icelanders easily read ancient texts. There are so few inhabitants on the island that the ancestry of many of them can be traced through Sagas and legends up to the time of the beginning of the settlement of the country.
About 20% of Iceland's population is made up of people of foreign origin. However, if you are going to Iceland as a tourist, it is enough to know English. But if you decide to settle in this wonderful country for a long time, then you need to study Icelandic hard.
The Icelandic language is considered quite complex. Take at least the "surname" of the world-famous Icelandic singer Björk and just try to read correctly: "Guðmundsdóttir". Isn't it easy?
It is worth saying that Icelanders do not have surnames at all. Telephone directories only list names in alphabetical order. Moreover, in 1925, a decree was issued here prohibiting having surnames. Only the person who has an Icelandic name can become a citizen of the country! So, for example, Björk is not a pseudonym at all, but the real name of the singer, which means "Birch" in Icelandic (these are the trees found most often in Iceland). The role of surnames in Iceland is performed by patronymics. For example, "surname" Guðmundsdóttir literally means "daughter of Guðmundur".
There are few parasitic words in the Icelandic language, that means that knowledge of English will not give advantages in learning Icelandic. But this once again convinces us that Icelanders are the real "keepers" of their language, and therefore of their culture!
More than 80% of Iceland's population belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, more than 4% – to other Protestant denominations (primarily Seventh–day Adventists), about 2% - to the Roman Catholic Church, 7% – to other denominations.
There are quite a lot of Lutheran churches on the island. There is also a Catholic church in Iceland and several churches of other denominations. Currently, there are plans to build a permanent Orthodox church in Reykjavik.
Recently, Lutheranism has had a "competitor" - the new paganism of Ásatrú. It is an ethnic religion of the indigenous population of Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, Germany and some other European countries. Translated from Old Norse, "Ásatrú" literally means "faith (trú) in the gods (Aces)."
Although the state religion of Iceland is Lutheranism, the national anthem of the country is often criticized for religious themes. After all, along with the state religion, freedom of religion has been declared in the country. At the same time, the name of the anthem Ó Guð vors lands translates as "The God of our country", and its first lines literally mean: "The God of our country, the God of our country!/ We glorify Your exalted Name. / The sun and the sky were created by You/ Your legions, forever and ever!".
National holidays
1 January – New Year
Mid–April – Great Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday
First day of summer – first Thursday after 18 April
1 May – Labor Day
1st Sunday of June – Fisherman's Day
17 June – Independence Day
First Monday of August – Day of Trade Workers
24 December – Christmas Eve
25 December – Christmas
26 December – Yuletide
31 December - New Year's Eve.
Pagan traditions

Þorrablót – celebrated from the end of January to the end of February. Throughout the month, it is customary to eat national food, which was once the main one for the inhabitants of the country. The menu includes such delicacies as smoked leg of lamb, smoked salmon, smoked sheep's head, whale meat, fermented lamb testicles. But the decoration of the table is always a shark, which has been kept in the ground for a long time, and has a unique smell and taste. All this can be eaten only by drinking Icelandic vodka "Brennivín", which is colloquially called "Black Death".

Yule–Christmas celebrations – begins 13 days before Christmas. 13 Christmas guys (jólasveinar), the sons of the evil ogre Grýla and the closest relatives of fairy trolls living in the mountains, come down from the mountains one by one every night and enter every house. Good children receive gifts from them, which are folded outside the window into a boot, and naughty ones - potatoes. Jólasveinar make fun of people, steal sour cream from housewives, knock on pots. Icelanders celebrate Christmas with these 13 guys who act out scenes and sing while walking through the beautifully decorated streets. Special food is also prepared: juicy lamb, venison, goose, fresh fish, red cabbage and laufabrauð (well-fried tortillas). Immediately after the advent of Christmas, the jólasveinar also start going to the mountains every night, one by one. On the 13th day of Christmas, January 6, the last Christmas guy leaves.
Iceland has a high level of cultural development due to its long-standing literary traditions, high standard of education and the great interest of the entire population of the country in books and reading.
The very first schools in Iceland were organized at the residences of the bishops in Skálholt and Hólar. From Skálholt, the school was transferred to Reykjavik in 1784. In the Middle Ages, monasteries were also engaged in educational activities, and in later times – priests during visits to houses and peasant farms. Presumably by 1800 all Icelanders could read and write.
Education in public schools is compulsory and free for all children aged 6 to 15 years. Those who graduate from high school are granted the right to continue four-year studies at a college or vocational school. The oldest college was established in Reykjavik in 1846.
After graduating from colleges and some colleges, you can enroll in the University of Iceland, founded in 1911. However, even before that time there were separate faculties in Reykjavik – theology (since 1847), medicine (since 1876) and law (since 1908).
At the university, you can get an education in economics and management, in the humanities, for example, in linguistics, history and philosophy, polytechnic, natural and social sciences.
The duration of education is approximately 3 to 5 years. In addition to universities, there are several small colleges in Iceland that provide education at the university level. Nevertheless, in some specialties, Icelandic students have to continue their studies abroad. However, the government allocates significant funds for this. About a third of Icelandic students complete their education in other countries.
There are a number of vocational schools in Iceland, for example, pedagogical, commercial, nautical (trains captains of the merchant fleet), arts and crafts, polytechnic and medical in Reykjavik. Other parts of the country have developed a network of technical, agricultural and music schools, as well as home economics schools. All educational institutions receive subsidies from the municipal authorities. Training in vocational schools is mostly free.
Visa to Iceland
Iceland is a member of the Schengen agreement between 27 countries allowing its nationals to travel visa-free between them.
Nationals of 117 countries can travel to Iceland without visa. These include Australia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and the United States, whose citizens can stay in Iceland for up to 90 days in a 6-month period. You’ll need a valid passport or relevant travel document of at least three months beyond your intended stay.
Driving in Iceland
All highways in Iceland are numbered.
Highway No. 1 or ring road is the main road of the country, but in fact, it is a narrow two–lane road.
The road sign F means that there are difficulties and obstacles on this road, there may be water crossings. Traveling on such roads is possible only in off-road vehicles with four-wheel drive. On maps, they are indicated by a dotted line and are called special road.

When traveling by car in Iceland on your own, remember:
The general speed limit in settlements is 50 km/h, outside settlements - 60 km/h, on gravel roads — 80 km/h, on the main paved road — 90 km/h. On the sections of the road in front of which the corresponding road signs are installed, traffic is allowed at a speed not exceeding that indicated on the road sign. Speeding entails heavy fines.
All passengers must wear seat belts while driving.
Motorists are legally required to drive with their headlights on at any time of the day.
There are strict penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol, because the permissible blood alcohol level is very low.
Be careful when driving on gravel roads, because the grip on a gravel road is less than on asphalt dirt one. The driver must slow down in relation to the approaching vehicle. Remember that mountain roads are narrow, there are no special fences around them, so do not exceed the speed limit.
On roads in many areas of the island, blind ascents are often found (in particularly dangerous places, traffic lanes on their tops are separated by special signs). Be careful in such areas, and even if the road is completely empty, stay on your side! Along with one-way bridges, blind ascents are the most accident-prone areas! Remember that subcompact and rear-wheel drive cars are very unstable on the dirt surface when braking sharply!
There are a large number of one-way bridges on Federal Highway No. 1, but without any priority signs on both sides. The advantage belongs to the first car that entered it. But the main rule is mutual courtesy of drivers. If you want to miss an oncoming car, stop and turn off the lights or just blink your headlights.
At the roundabout, drivers who are on the circle have an advantage, and at the exit, those who are moving along the inner lane.
Special warning signs indicate danger ahead, but are not signs for reducing speed. Please choose a safe speed according to the road conditions.
Watch for the appearance of animals near or on the roadway, because in the summer (from the end of May to mid-September) sheep and horses are free grazing. Sheep are laid on the sides of the main road by whole families. In this situation, it is better to slow down and honk from afar, usually the animals run away, but if they remain in place, it is better to completely slow down, because frightened, they can rush under your wheels at the most inopportune moment.
From mid-June to mid-September, defenseless chicks of various seabirds can be found on many roads in Iceland. Most often these are terns - small white gulls, similar to a swallow (gray chicks), which nest in meadows and silly - a large white-gray gull. Please be careful and don't offend the kids who can't fly yet and whose life is in your hands!
Off-road driving is prohibited by law.
Be careful! There are few gas stations in the highlands.
Most of the high-altitude roads have been open to traffic since the end of June.
Very often on many routes (especially in high-altitude areas - Landmannalaugar valley, Þórsmörk, Sprengisandur pass, etc.) there are a large number of rivers that need to be forded. Traveling in a car not adapted for this, do not try to accomplish such a feat! Forcing mountain rivers is possible only on four-wheel drive jeeps with the differential turned on at low speed. Remember that the rivers here are mostly glacial, which means that in the morning it is a small stream, and in the afternoon it is a roaring stream that sweeps away everything in its path! If you have no experience of crossing rivers, it is better to wait for another car and consult how to do it. Crossing alone is life-threatening.
It is also necessary to remember that damage and flooding of the bottom of the car is not covered by insurance!
If you are traveling by rented car, carefully read the terms of the contract, try to follow the proposed rules and do not use roads prohibited for this type of car. If there are signs on your way: ÓFÆRT or LOKAÐ standing in the middle of the road, it means that the road is closed and impassable. In case of a car breakdown in a prohibited area, you will have to pay for repairs yourself. You will also have to pay if you leave traces of your shoes on the roof of the car, choosing it as a springboard for photographing.
When traveling in the Highlands, be sure to check in advance the situation on the roads and the weather forecast. Try to stick to the travel plan drawn up by you or the tour operator. Always leave your travel plan with someone, with your tour operator, at the hotel or with the Icelandic Rescue Team by filling out a form on their website
Tourist reminder
The import and export of foreign currency is not limited. Duty-free import is allowed: 6 liters of beer, 1 liter of spirits, 1 liter of wine, 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco, personal items and products, including photo and video equipment. Strong alcoholic beverages can be imported only to persons over the age of 20, wine and tobacco products - to persons over the age of 18.
It is prohibited to import weapons, drugs, certain medicines (without the appropriate permits of customs authorities), meat, raw eggs, fresh vegetables and dairy products. The import of medicines for personal use is allowed if there is a certificate or prescription from the attending physician prescribing the intake of these drugs.
Despite the temptations that arise when visiting a duty-free shop in the arrival area of the airport in Keflavik, one should refrain from purchasing alcohol and tobacco products in excess of the norms. The probability of being subjected to customs inspection is approximately 50% and in case of exceeding customs rules, you will have to pay additional duties.

Choosing clothes for a trip to Iceland, at any time of the year, focus on October-November in Europe, you will feel most comfortable in sports-type clothes. Regardless of the time of year, be sure to bring high-quality waterproof and windproof clothes and shoes, a warm sweater and a cap. Also be sure to bring comfortable hiking boots with you.

You can exchange cash freely in banks, offices of The Change Group and hotels. Banks are open from Monday to Friday from 09:15 to 16:00. Traveler's checks are accepted everywhere. You can pay for purchases with credit cards of the world's leading payment systems. ATMs are located in all banks, large stores, hotels and on most central streets, and work with all types of credit cards.

For an international call, pre–dial 00 or + on a mobile phone, then the country code and the number of the called subscriber. It is better to refrain from calls from phones in bars, restaurants and hotels. Mobile communication is working confidently in Reykjavik, Akureyri and almost the entire length of route No. 1. In the central uninhabited regions of the country, the signal is improving all the time, but can be different.
One of the most profitable options to make calls during a long stay in Iceland or when you often use the phone is to purchase a SIM card from one of the Icelandic mobile operators. In this case, all incoming calls are free.

For any emergency assistance, you must call 112. A call to 112 from any number is free of charge.

The only form of public transport in Reykjavik is the bus. The fare costs around 550 Icelandic crowns (ISK) and is paid by the driver, while it is not accepted to give change. In addition, you can travel by taxi, which you can always order by phone or just get into a standing car.

Iceland is among the ten most expensive countries, so don't be surprised at the high prices for everything, especially alcohol. Within the country, alcoholic beverages can be purchased only in specialty stores that are open 6 days a week from 12 o'clock to 19-20 pm or in bars on tap.
There are souvenir shops in almost every settlement in Iceland. It happens that in a village of 2-3 houses, one is a store with goods for tourists. In Reykjavik, the choice of places to purchase Icelandic sweaters, ceramic products and rune pendants is more than enough. All souvenir shops trade under the Tax Free (Global Refund) system – 15% of the cost of purchased goods will be returned to you at Keflavik International Airport. However, for this, the amount of purchases in one store must exceed 6000 ISK. The main part of the shops is open on weekdays from 10 to 18 hours. Supermarkets are open daily and some close even at 22 o'clock.
Souvenirs to bring from Iceland:
- products made of Icelandic wool (sweaters, caps)
- souvenirs on the theme of Vikings
- cute troll figurines
- lava products
- T-shirts with the theme of Iceland.
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