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Iceland is an island country that lies just below the Arctic Circle in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is about 320 kilometers east of Greenland and about 1,050 kilometers west of Norway.

Iceland is sometimes called the Land of Ice and Fire because large glaciers lie next to steaming hot springs, geysers, and volcanoes. The country was named Iceland by an early settler who was upset by seeing the coastal waters choked with ice after an unusually cold and long winter.

But Iceland is not as cold as most places so far north. The Gulf Stream ocean current warms most of Iceland's coast. Iceland is also a land of midnight sun. It is light almost 24 hours a day in June, and dark for a similar period in December.

A Short Background

Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930. Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark.

Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century, 20% of the island's population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the US.

Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. Literacy, longevity, income, and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.


Location: Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the UK
Geographic coordinates: 65 00 N, 18 00 W
Population: 277,906 (July 2001 est.)
Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 93%, other Protestant and Roman Catholic, none (1997)
Languages: Icelandic
Currency: Icelandic krona (ISK)
Currency code: ISK
Exchange rates: 1 EURO to Iceland Krona: 88.43694 (April 2004)


 Action 5.1 activity 9 “Support for quality and innovation of the Program Youth.”
Project no: 5.1/R1/2003/06 Made by Hienet working Teams in cooperation with T.E.S.