Island

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Iceland is a Nordic island country of Europe located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of 332,529 and an area of 103,000 km², making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík. …

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Breiðamerkursandur (341)

Breiðamerkursandur (341)

Breiðamerkursandur

64° 2′ 41″ N, 16° 10′ 24″ W

Breiðamerkursandur (also called Diamond Beach for the pieces of glacial ice washed up on the beach) is a sandur (a glacial outwash plain) in southeast Iceland. Sandur is the Icelandic word for sand and the whole area is mostly sand, although some…

Dyrhólaey (111)

Dyrhólaey (111)

Dyrhólaey

63° 23′ 57″ N, 19° 7′ 39″ W

The small peninsula, or promontory, Dyrhólaey (120 m) (formerly known as “Cape Portland” by seamen) is located on the south coast of Iceland, not far from the village Vík í Mýrdal. It was formerly an island of volcanic origin, which is also known…

Eystrahorn (091)

Eystrahorn (091)

Eystrahorn

64° 24′ 11″ N, 14° 32′ 29″ W

Part of the Krossanesfjall is the famous rock outcrop Eystrahorn (also called Austurhorn), on the other side of the wide bay of Lón the Vestrahorn (757 m). The Eystrahorn is also called Hvalnesfjall, because of the now abandoned farm Hvalnes at…

Goðafoss (119)

Goðafoss (119)

Goðafoss

65° 40′ 58″ N, 17° 33′ 2″ W

The Goðafoss (“waterfall of the gods” or “waterfall of the goði”) is a waterfall in Iceland. It is located in the Bárðardalur district of Northeastern Region at the beginning of the Sprengisandur highland road. The water of the river…

Gullfoss (011)

Gullfoss (011)

Gullfoss

64° 19′ 37″ N, 20° 7′ 11″ W

Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) is a waterfall located in the canyon of Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. The wide Hvítá river rushes southward, and about a kilometre above the falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into a wide curved…

Hverarönd (097)

Hverarönd (097)

Hverarönd

65° 38′ 29″ N, 16° 48′ 33″ W

Hverarönd, literally meaning “hot springs of the ducks”, also called by Námafjall metonymy of the name of the mountain at the foot of which it is located, is a hydrothermal site of Iceland presenting hot springs, fumaroles, mud puddles and…

Hvítserkur (076)

Hvítserkur (076)

Hvítserkur

65° 36′ 23″ N, 20° 38′ 7″ W

Hvítserkur is a 15 m high basalt stack along the eastern shore of the Vatnsnes peninsula, in northwest Iceland. The rock has two holes at the base, which give it the appearance of a dragon who is drinking. Several species of birds, such as gulls…

Isländische Landschaften (099)

Isländische Landschaften (099)

Isländische Landschaften

64° 15′ 23″ N, 15° 35′ 45″ W

Iceland has extensive volcanic and geothermal activity. The rift associated with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which marks the division between the Eurasian Plate and North American tectonic plates, runs across Iceland from the southwest to the…

Isländische Pferde (048)

Isländische Pferde (048)

Isländische Pferde

64° 16′ 18″ N, 20° 26′ 58″ W

The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. Although the horses are small, at times pony-sized, most registries for the Icelandic refer to it as a horse. Icelandic horses weigh between 330 and 380 kg and stand an average of 13…

Jökulsárlón (234)

Jökulsárlón (234)

Jökulsárlón

64° 4′ 29″ N, 16° 11′ 25″ W

Jökulsárlón, literally “glacial river lagoon”, is a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started…

Kirkjufell (043)

Kirkjufell (043)

Kirkjufell

64° 56′ 17″ N, 23° 18′ 16″ W

Mount Kirkjufell (463 m) is located in the west of Iceland, near the town of Grundarfjörður on the western shore of the fjord Grundarfjörður in the north of the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Klifatindur (071)

Klifatindur (071)

Klifatindur

64° 16′ 6″ N, 14° 58′ 25″ W

The mountain Klifatindur is located in southern Iceland and is 889 m high. An important part of this mountain range is the Vestrahorn (757 m). In front of him is the pointed Brunnhorn. The Klifatindur originated in the ice age. The massif consists…

Mývatnsee (005)

Mývatnsee (005)

Mývatn

65° 36′ 1″ N, 17° 0′ 2″ W

Mývatn is a shallow eutrophic lake situated in an area of active volcanism in the north of Iceland, not far from Krafla volcano. The lake and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich fauna of waterbirds, especially ducks. The lake was…

Nordlicht (054) Jökulsárlón

Nordlicht (054)

Jökulsárlón

Nordlicht

64° 6′ 48″ N, 16° 15′ 44″ W

An aurora borealis, sometimes referred to as polar lights, northern lights, is a natural light display in the Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in the high-latitude regions (around the Arctic). Auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is…

Ostfjorde (004)

Ostfjorde (004)

Ostfjorde (Island)

64° 43′ 55″ N, 13° 59′ 27″ W

Eastern Region (Austurland, also known as Austfirðir: “East Fjords”) is a region in eastern Iceland. Its area is 22,721 square kilometres and in 2007 its population was 15,300. The largest town in the region is Egilsstaðir, with a population of…

Reynisfjara (105)

Reynisfjara (105)

Reynisfjara

63° 24′ 10″ N, 19° 2′ 33″ W

Reynisdrangar are basalt sea stacks situated under the mountain Reynisfjall near the village Vík í Mýrdal, southern Iceland which is framed by a black sand beach. Legend says that the stacks originated when two trolls dragged a three-masted ship…

Skógafoss (027)

Skógafoss (027)

Skógafoss

63° 31′ 52″ N, 19° 30′ 44″ W

Skógafoss is a waterfall situated on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland at the cliffs of the former coastline. After the coastline had receded seaward (it is now at a distance of about 5 km from Skógar), the former sea cliffs remained,…

Eishöhlen (026) Vatnajökull

Eishöhlen (026)

Vatnajökull

Vatnajökull Eishöhlen

64° 5′ 21″ N, 16° 22′ 11″ W

Glacier caves are caves formed within the ice of a glacier and are often called ice caves. The glacier caves are started by water running through or under the glacier. This water originates on the glacier’s surface through melting, entering the…

Beschreibung

Iceland is a Nordic island country of Europe located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of 332,529 and an area of 103,000 km², making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík. Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country are home to over two-thirds of the population.

Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

According to the ancient manuscript Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in 874 AD when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent settler on the island. In the following centuries, Norwegians, and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians, emigrated to Iceland, bringing with them thralls (i.e., slaves or serfs) of Gaelic origin. The island was governed as an independent commonwealth under the Althing, one of the world’s oldest functioning legislative assemblies. Following a period of civil strife, Iceland acceded to Norwegian rule in the 13th century.

The establishment of the Kalmar Union in 1397 united the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Iceland thus followed Norway’s integration to that union and came under Danish rule, after Sweden’s secession from that union in 1523. Although the Danish kingdom introduced Lutheranism forcefully in 1550, Iceland remained a distant semi-colonial territory in which Danish institutions and infrastructures were conspicuous by their absence.

In the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Iceland’s struggle for independence took form and culminated in independence in 1918 and the founding of a republic in 1944.

Until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on subsistence fishing and agriculture, and was among the poorest countries in Europe. Industrialisation of the fisheries and Marshall Plan aid following World War II brought prosperity, and Iceland became one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 1994, it became a part of the European Economic Area, which further diversified the economy into sectors such as finance, biotechnology, and manufacturing.

Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation’s Scandinavian heritage. Most Icelanders are descendants of Norse and Gaelic settlers. Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is descended from Old West Norse and is closely related to Faroese and West Norwegian dialects.

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