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Thursday 23rd May
Iceland Facts
Iceland is one of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden).

Reykjavík is the capital city of the Republic of Iceland.

Akureyri, one of Iceland's largest cities, is a popular tourist destination amongst Icelanders.

Iceland is on the Mid Atlantic Ridge in the North Atlantic Ocean where the Eurasian and North American plates move apart a few centimetres a year.

Hvannadalshnukur (2,119 m) is the highest point in Iceland.

Vatnajokull glacier in Southeast Iceland is Iceland's largest glacier.

In 1996 a volcanic eruption beneath Vatnajokull caused a glacier outburst flood, known as a jokulhlaup.

Hekla is Iceland's most active volcano, thought to have erupted around twenty times since 874 AD; an eruption took place in 2000.

The Grimsvotn and Laki (1783-1784) eruption was one of the largest volcanic eruptions known in Iceland.

Iceland's deepest lake is Lake Oskjuvtn, formed following the eruption of the Askja volcano in 1875.

In 1963 a new volcano appeared in the Atlantic close to Iceland. It grew to become an island called Surtsey. Scientists studying the island, now a World Heritage site, have seen the arrival of seeds carried by ocean currents and the appearance of birds and invertebrates.

During the eruption of Eldfell on the island of Heimaey (1973) the flow of lava was hosed with seawater to slow down its movement.

The English word "geyser" comes from Iceland's Great Geysir in Haukadalur.

The phenomenon of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) can be seen during mid-winter when the weather is clear.

Ingolfur Arnarson, a Norwegian, is said to have founded Reykjavík in 874.

Vikings took people from the British Isles to Iceland.

The Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, dates back to the early tenth century.

In 982 Eric the Red left Iceland for Greenland. Icelanders settled in Greenland in 986.

Leif Ericsson, the son of Eric the Red, made voyages of discovery along the North American coast.

A law passed in the year 1000 made Christianity the official religion in Iceland.

In 1402 the bubonic plague killed over half of Iceland's population.

Up until the twentieth century the horse was an important means of travel in Iceland. Today people in Iceland travel by bus, car and plane.

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century twenty percent of Iceland's population emigrated to Canada and the USA.

In the 1960s and 1970s there was a dispute between Iceland and the UK over fishing grounds, known as the Cod Wars.

Vigdis Finnbogadottir was the first female President of Iceland (1980-1996).

At the end of May 2008 Iceland experienced an earthquake, magnitude 6.3, 50 km southeast of Reykjavik. Homes near the epicentre were damaged but most Icelandic houses are designed to withstand earthquakes.

Following demonstrations and calls for the government’s resignation over Iceland’s economic meltdown an election was set for April 2009, two years early. A centre-left coalition won a majority with Social Democrat Johanna Sigurdardottir as Prime Minister.

In a referendum held in March 2010 voters rejected a proposal to pay 4 billion euros in compensation to the UK and the Netherlands after the collapse of the Icesave bank. In February 2011 parliament approved a new deal to settle the dispute with the UK and the Netherlands over Icesave bank, but in April voters in a referendum voted to reject the deal once again.

On 14th April 2010 the glacier covered volcano Eyjafjallajokul erupted in its first major eruption since 1821. A cloud of volcanic ash spread across Europe grounding airline flights throughout the continent and causing chaos for travellers and airlines for several months.

The Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland came to life in remote valleys in March 2021. On 11 November 2023 approximately four thousand residents were evacuated from the nearby fishing town of Grindavik.

The Fagradalsfjall eruption in December 2023 was visible from the capital, Reykjavik, about thirty miles from Grindavik.

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