Iceland is an island and an independent democratic country located by the Arctic Circle in the northern Atlantic Ocean, between Greenland, Norway and Scotland. The island is about 103000 square kilometres in size, which is comparable to Hungary or Cuba.
The island’s landscape is shaped by volcanic and glacial activity. The former have built the island. Iceland is located over a hotspot along the Atlantic Rift. It causes strong volcanism, whose result, in turn, is the geological composition of the island. It is built exclusively of volcanic rocks (mainly basalts and tuffs). The rift runs across the island and within it the most powerful modern volcanic activity is found. The Earth’s crust is very thin in this area, so warmth from the depths of the planet can heat up underground waters creating geysers and allowing for the development of geothermal power plants.
Farther away from the rift zone, the rocks are older and more eroded – mainly by glaciers. Since its birth, Iceland has experienced glaciations, which shaped its surface. The most spectacular glacial landforms are fiords in north-western and south-eastern parts of the island. The southern coast, in turn, is low and flat. Picturesque black beaches are located there. Their sand is actually black, volcanic rock ground to sand and dust by glaciers and transported by rivers flowing from beneath them. Currently, glaciers of Iceland shrink and recede, like almost everywhere in the world. Among them is Vatnajokull, the largest ice cap in Europe.
Iceland’s economy relies on fishery and tourism. In the last years the number of tourists visiting Iceland reaches up to 2 million people yearly, lured by unique landscapes and Icelandic culture. Its most famous aspect is music – artists such as Björk, or Sigur Rós have contributed to the country’s popularity and sports, not least the success of national football teams and the renowned Viking HUH! Icelandic culture is known for Sagas dating. Written in the middle ages, these treasures of literature describe the history of the island and sometimes the Nordic countries in general as well as the mythical world of the Viking beliefs.