Country - Iceland
Iceland Country Information
Iceland is a Scandinavian nation in the northern hemisphere of the earth. Until the mid-20th century, Iceland had been a poor country with meager natural resources. But soon after the World War II, the country made a phenomenal tremendous progress, much to the amusement of the world nations. Iceland stands atop as a leading nation as per the Global Peace Index. As per the estimates of 2016, Iceland has been ranked as the 9th most developed nation in the world by the United Nations Human Development Index.
Iceland is one among the Nordic/Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The term “Nordic countries” also includes obscurely other territories Faroe Islands, Greenland, Svalbard and the Aland Islands.
Iceland is an island nation surrounded by Greenland Sea in the north and the North Atlantic Ocean in the south. The country is at the confluence of North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Grimsey, the daughter islet of Iceland lies within the Arctic Circle, currently. The global position of the island is likely to change by the mid-21st century on account of long term oscillations of the earth’s axis. According to the calculations of geologists, the Arctic Circle is tilting northward by 14.5 meters every year. Hence, what is true today may not be so after thirty years or forty years.
Reykjavik is the capital and the largest city of Iceland. The official language is Icelandic. In addition, Norse, German, English, Dutch, French and Basque languages are also found to be heard due to its strategic location in northern trade routes. Apart from English, any other Scandinavian language like Danish is mandatory in compulsory schools till secondary level school programmes.
The main reasons for meteoric rise in progress of the country post 19th century are industrialization of the fisheries (which was the only source for the earlier subsistence lifestyle) and the financial aid through Marshall Plan which was effective for four years commencing from 1948. Iceland features market economy with cheaper taxes in comparison with other OECD nations. The global recession of 2008 has badly affected, along with other world nations, the economy and the banking sector of Iceland. However, the island nation displayed the resilient renaissance economically mainly because of the revenue from international tourism.
For the first-time visitors of the country, Iceland seems to be a part of terrain on a different planet, several light years away from the earth. Iceland is like a wonderful world which seems deceptively irrelevant to the blue planet. The rarest phenomenon of natural colourful flashes of light extending from the North Pole, though common in all the countries near the North Pole, makes Iceland an absolutely exotic piece of land. The most pleasant aspect is the availability of accommodation in the dome-shaped modern igloos that are in no way inferior to luxurious hotels in the metro cities of highly developed nations. The brilliantly lit interiors and fluffy cushioned beds speak of the state-of-the-art comforts within the sophisticated and warm igloos. Beholding the colourful flashes of aurora borealis through the transparent domes of igloos, while staying put and lying supine on the bed is an additional comfort since we need not come out of the igloo to watch the night sky. The period between September and April every year is most appropriate to watch the colourful sky. The swerving giant strobes of multi-chromatic illuminations make us wonder we are on another planet of the galaxy.
Iceland is the land of contrasts and contradictions. On a terrain where even native people too protect themselves wearing woolen apparels from the bone-biting chilliness, it is odd to find simmering volcanoes, both active and dormant. As if to console those suffering from ice-cold weather, natural hot water springs are not an uncommon sight on the island. Do not be surprised if your tongue does not cooperate with you due to severe cold weather to utter a few words to make yourself heard before the locals.
The Jokulsar Lagoon in the southeast of Iceland is the water body in which gigantic glaciers keep sailing away all the year round. The location does not look the same as it was a few minutes ago due to the ever-moving colossal slabs of floating ice on the dark blue waters. Some of the smaller chunks might dissolve and disappear in the water.
The Golden Circle is a specific route that connects three important places Gullfoss glacier, Geysir in Haukadalur valley and Thingvellir. Gullfoss glacier is the second biggest in Iceland and the eye-catching feature is its V-shaped contour of paramount proportions. When the stream of water smashes down into the 105-feet deep canyon, a thick giant cloud of miniscule water-droplets leaps upward furiously forcing the visitors to watch the scene in admiration.
Geysir was once a natural hot water spring in Haukadalur valley, but is no longer active. Instead, Strokkur hot spring compensates the inactivity of its older counterpart and jettisons forcefully to a height of 15-20 meters about every ten minutes. While going ahead in the same route, you would be encountered with similar hot water springs, coloured in different hues.
Thingvellir is a weird place where two giant tectonic plates drifting apart above the sea level. The land is also rich in hiking trails and luring rendezvouses for pitching a campfire. For those who are ultra-adventurous, scuba diving is a challenging activity to experience it between the two tectonic plates.
The Blue Lagoon is an ultimate luxury endowed naturally by the milky blue spa, kept warm on account of the geothermal plant nearby. The temptation to dip in for ablutions in warm waters is irresistible for almost all the visitors. The lake continues to be the Iceland’s top most tourist attraction despite its expensiveness and the existence of other hot water springs in several other locations in Iceland.