Iceland
August 2009
Capital

Reykjavik

Area

103,000 km²
(2.5x the Netherlands)

Time

UTC +0

Language

Icelandic

Highest point

Hvannadalshnúkur - 2,119 m

Flag

The current flag dates from 1915. The flag is based on the Danish Dannebrog and has the reverse color scheme of the flag of Norway, with which Iceland has had a strong bond for centuries. In 1944, Iceland became an independent republic. The flag remained in use.


Climate

Variable and it can be very windy. The table below shows the average temperature.


Reykjavik

Temp. (°C) Jan Apr Jul Okt
max 2 6 15 7
min -2 1 9 3
Currency

In 1885, the Danish krone (introduced in 1874) was replaced by the     Icelandic krone. Depicted on the banknote is Jón Sigurdsson (1811-1879). He was the political leader of the independence movement.     His birthday, June 17, is Iceland's national holiday.


Itinerary


Highlights

With an age between 15 and 20 million years Iceland is the youngest region of Europe. There are numerous glaciers, waterfalls and volcanoes. After arriving at Keflavik Airport, visit the Blue lagoon, a geothermal bath in a lava field. Very relaxing and a nice introduction to the country.



Vatnajokull is the largest ice cap in Europe (8,500 km²). A large number of glaciers run down to the valley. The Skaftafell Natl. Park is part of it. Stroll along the Skaftafellsjokull (glacier) up for an impressive view and visit the Svartifoss plunge down in front of a background of basalt columns. The ice from the 20 km wide Breidamerkurjokull enters the huge Jokulsarlon. Lots of movies were shot here like the James Bond movie 'Die another day'.



There are a large number of waterfalls in Iceland. The Dettifoss is the most powerful in Europe. About 100 meters wide and 44 meters high. Upstream, nearby, is the Selfoss which is a lot wider but less high. Located in the southwest lies the Gullfoss. The Hvita River plunges down 31 meters in two cascades under an angle of 90°. The Seljalandfoss is not far from here. You can walk behind it. The Skogarfoss is 60 meter high. You can also have a view from the top via a steel staircase.

The namesake of all geysers, Geysir, can also be found in Iceland but unfortunately it no longer works. The Strokkur, 100 meters away, still provides a 30 meter high fountain of water about every 10 minutes.

There are a lot of volcanoes around the Myvatn (mosquito lake). Climb the explosion crater Hverfall and take a walk around the edge of the 1 km wide crater. Next to the lake lies Dimmuborgir. This lava field formed high sculptures in the landscape. To the north lies the Krafla volcano where geothermal energy is gained. The landscape is beautiful. Next to it is Leirhnjukur. You can walk over lava rocks which are still warm. Sulfur vapors and steam rises between the rocks. Namaskard has bubbling mud pools and hissing fumaroles.

Near the village of Vik is the Dyrholæy, a 120 meter high rock with a hole in it where you can spot puffins. The lighthouse on the rock dates from 1910. Reynisdrangar are high basalt colums, 66 meters off the coast near Vik. The beach at Vik is black.

Landmannalaugar is the most beautiful hiking area in Iceland. From the campsite there are multiple paths through the beautiful surroundings. You can walk over ridges and through lava fields and sometimes you have to cross a stream.