The land of fire and ice!

History

The first people to settle in Iceland were probably Irish priests, who began arriving in their leather curachs around 700 AD. They were followed by Viking settlers. According to the Viking sagas, the people of Norway were sick of submitting and paying taxes to King Harald Fairhair, so many left to find new land. The first ones arrived in Iceland around 870AD. The people who live in Iceland today are descended from the Vikings.

 

To find out more about the Viking voyages click here

To see a photo of Iceland's black beach where the children were shipwrecked click here

Animals

Although many species of birds breed in Iceland, and the seas teem with fish, seals and whales, the only native land mammal is the Arctic fox, and there are no reptiles or amphibians.

To find out more about Iceland’s plants and animals click here

Environment

To find out more about volcanoes click here

Iceland is known as the land of ice and fire. 11% of the land surface is covered with glaciers and about 30% is lava fields (left over from volcanic eruptions). On average, a volcano erupts every five years. Vatnajökull glacier is the biggest ice cap in Europe, but frequent volcanoes erupt from under the ice and cause huge meltwater floods along the uninhabited south coast.

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