Iceland was the last country in Europe to be settled. To this day, it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Located in the middle of the North Atlantic, Iceland was settled by emigrants from Scandinavia and the British Isles in the tenth century. Due to Iceland's geographical location, it was mostly outside the influence of contemporary culture in Europe and America, until the late nineteenth century.
Iceland is home to the largest glaciers in Europe, as well as some of the world's most active volcanoes, and is widely known as "The Land of Fire and Ice". But Iceland escapes definition. It is also the land of light and darkness. Its location, just below the Arctic Circle, makes for long summer days with near 24-hours of sunlight; offset by short winter days with very little sunlight at all. Fortunately, while winters in Iceland are dark, they are relatively mild and play host to one of nature's most spectacular exhibitions of beauty; the Aurora Borealis.
Iceland remains largely uninhabited, with more than half of its 320,000 inhabitants living in the capital city. In fact, a mere twenty-minute drive from Reykjavík center takes you out of the hubbub of city life and into the seclusion of Iceland's spectacular landscapes, which inspire adventures from its shores to its mountaintops.
Icelanders have long enjoyed one of the highest life expectancies in the world. There is no definitive explanation for this, but a clean environment and a healthy diet and lifestyle probably have something to do with it. The Icelandic diet is rich in quality raw materials, farmed, bred and caught in an unpolluted environment, and produced with the utmost care.
The Icelandic Christmas period is an intriguing mixture of religious practice and traditional folklore, beginning on December 23rd and ending on Epiphany, January 6th. In between, there is a whole lot of food to be eaten, people to be met and fireworks to be launched.
For an isolated culture in the North Atlantic, creativity is important. Ever since Iceland was settled in the 9th century, writing and music have been an integral part of life in the country; and have in recent years reached a large audience on the global stage thanks to the efforts of international pop stars such as Björk and Sigur Rós, as well as the wide readership of authors like Halldór Laxness, Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.
These ocean cliffs in this country’s far northwest are not simple and easy to reach, but travelers are treated to the most stunning sight on the Iceland’s entire coastline. A razor-backed and undulating ridge is carved against the sky and on its inland part, a sheer-hill scoops down to a lovely plateau. The opposite side is a pure 534 meters drop to the sea.
These massive sea cliffs at Iceland’s western most point verify that the “endpoints of the earth” certainly come with a bang. The sheer volume of many types of birds is incredible, and the puffins (photographed) are willing to have their photo taken.
With the accurate precautions and preparations, any tourist can just walk straight into this lava-tube cavern and saunter more than 3/4 mile or a kilometer to its dimmest depths, past peculiar ice candles and lava formations.