Iceland, Land of Fire and Ice:
Did you Know?
Although its first inhabitants were probably Irish monks who came to the area for solitude, the land of Iceland was settled by the Vikings around the late 9th century AD. The first permanent settler was Ingolfur Arnarson, a Norwegian Viking. He lived in where the capital city of Reykjavik now stands. Another famous Viking, Leifur Eiriksson, became the first European to set foot in North America. Iceland is about the size of the state of Ohio. Iceland, nicknamed"the land of fire and ice", has volcanos, glaciers, waterfalls,and geysers.
Iceland does not have an army, navy, or air force. It does have a Coast Guard.
The English word geyser comes from Icelandic, where the oldest known geysir, can be found. The word means"the gusher".
Iceland is the world's oldest democracy. Its parliament (Althingi) was founded about 1,000 years ago.
There are not many trees in Iceland. The few trees are not very tall. A joke says that how does one find their way out of an Icelandic forest? Stand up!Trees are being planted.
The only main road in Iceland circles the entire island. Iceland doesn't have any railroad system.
Icelandic families have different last names. That's because Icelandic people name their children after their father's first name plus the name son or daughter added at the end. So, if a boy named Ragner's dad's name is Eider. His last name would be Eidersson.If a girl in the same family was named Dugg. Her last name would be Eidersdottir. Telephone books list by first names alphabetically.
The capital of Iceland, Reykjavek,is the most northern capital city in the world.
In the 1960s,a volcanic eruption created the island of Surtsey.
There are 36 letters in the Icelandic alphabet. There are no C and W. No letters are silent when reading a word. And, there are no regional languages. There is only one way to say each and every word.Takk is thank you,Bless is goodbye and Goda Nott is goodnight.
Iceland uses geo thermal energy to produce 99% of their energy needs. Geo thermal greenhouses enable the people of Iceland to have fresh vegetables and flowers all year long.
People eat whale, puffins, horses, lamb, and whale, too. They also eat rotting shark, called "hakarl," and sheep heads.
You can't bring horses into Iceland. Horses in Iceland are descendants of the originals brought here around 930.
Icelandic people always use first names, even when speaking students speak with their teachers. There is a list of accepted names. All names must be Norse names. Even new words such as radio, television and computer are made into Norse words.
Much of the interior of Iceland is uninhabited. NASA used the terrain of Iceland to train its astronauts for the first moon landing! When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969, the said that he thought he was in Iceland!
Although it's name is Iceland, it really has a warmer climate than Greenland.
The largest waterfall in Europe is Gullfoss(golden fall). In the early 1900s, the 105 ft. waterfall was looked at as a possible place to build a hydroelectric dam.Sigriou Tomasdottir, who lived near the falls, threatened to jump in if the natural beauty of the falls was destroyed. The dam wasn't built!
In 1973, the only town on the Westman Islands of Heimaey, was pretty much destroyed by a volcanic eruption. All of its 5000 residents had been evacuated.The thick ash and lava covered many of the homes. Today, excavation is find the homes well preserved and residents are finding some of their possessions still intact. Heimay is called the "Pompeii of the North".
Iceland has the world's oldest democracy. Dating back to 930, different chieftains would travel to the area of Thingvellir, a natural amphitheater, and set up shelters where people could come to discuss issues of concerns. This lasted for two weeks. Afterwards, the different chieftains would meet to share the concerns of their clans. Laws were established and announced by the lord-chief for those in attendance to hear and take back to their regions of Iceland. Games were also played and people who had broken the laws were brought to the yearly gathering for punishment. Thingvellir is also the area where the North American plate and Eurasian Plates meet. You can see the faults(cracks) in this area, too.
There are more than two dozen active volcanoes on Iceland, with Mount Hekla, one of the most regularly erupting volcano. Iceland's highest peak is Hvannadalshnjukur and rises to 6,500 feet.
Huldufolk,or hidden people, are elf like people which are part of the culture of Iceland.
In the summer, Iceland, has lots of daylight because of its northern location near the Arctic Circle.In winter, there is only a few hours of day light!
With 11% of Iceland covered by glaciers, it has the largest glaciers in Europe. It is called Vatnajokull. It is about 1/2 mile deep and covers 3000 sq. miles.
The Arctic Fox is the only wild land mammal native to the island. The Vikings brought the Icelandic sheep and Icelandic horses to the island in the 9th century.
Map skill activity: Use the map found at this link:
1. Highest peak in Iceland:_______________
2. Largest glacier:_________________
3. City closest to Arctic Circle:_______________
4. Body of water above the Arctic
5. Southernmost city in Iceland:__________________
6. River which the city of Borgarnes is nearest:_______________
Learn more about Iceland at these links:
Site of the the first democratic meetings-Thingvillir
Gullfoss, the largest waterfall in Iceland(and Europe)
A glacier in Iceland
Beautiful photographs of glaciers/volcanoes of Iceland!
I've developed a webquest on Iceland, the first in my Country in Focus Series:Icelandic Webquest
I also have a Reading Passage activity on the country of Iceland:Iceland, A Reading Passage Activity