Iceland Travel Guide
As Europe's westernmost country, the large island of Iceland sits in the North Atlantic ocean, chillingly close to the Arctic Circle, like a stepping-stone of land between the North American and European continents. Iceland's landscape is nothing short of spectacular and this is clearly evident in the fact that astronauts were sent there for pre-mission training to take advantage of the stunning but barren moonscape of the central highland plateau. Iceland is renowned for being wild and rugged and over 80% of the island is uninhabited due to it's extreme landscape of cold lava deserts, glaciers, geothermal springs and over 200 volcanoes. Due to it's position, straddling one of the major fault lines in the earth's crust - the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - Iceland is one of the most volcanically active countries on the planet, a fact that has earned it the nickname of 'the Gateway to Hell' in the past. Nothing, however could be further from the truth as Iceland's lush green valleys, waterfalls, white rivers, red sulphur, black lava and piping hot blue geysers.
contribute to a truly vivid landscape of fantastic colours. The coastline is also craggy and marvellous with countless bays and fjords indenting the edges of this oval-shaped island.
Iceland is probably best known for it's thermal springs that are common and particularly numerous in the volcanic areas. The springs either occur as geysers, as boiling mud lakes, or in various other forms. Both natives and tourists alike take great advantage of these natural therapeutic mineral sources and bathing in the springs is one of Iceland's biggest attractions. The naturally hot water is also pumped straight into the homes of the Icelanders and used to heat massive greenhouses making Iceland, surprisingly the biggest producer/exporter of bananas in Europe! Five sixths of the population is concentrated on the coast, in the valleys and in the plains of the southwest and southeast of the country with more than half of that number living in the capital of Reykjavik.
Reykjavik, Iceland's chief port and the globe's northernmost metropolis boasts to being the "cleanest city on earth" and with it's botanical gardens, 50 museums and galleries and homely atmosphere, it offers an alternative capital city experience. The rest of Iceland is divided up into eight regions containing more than 20 independent towns, from the fishing centre of Akureyri in the north to the towns of Kópavogur and Hafnarfjördhur on the southwestern coast. Iceland is certainly a country like none other you will ever visit and it's unique quality is just one of many to discover.
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