Geography of Iceland

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Geography of Iceland

Post by kosovohp on Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:32 am

Iceland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean just south of the Arctic Circle, which passes through the small island of Grímsey off Iceland's northern coast, but not through mainland Iceland. Unlike neighbouring Greenland, Iceland is a part of Europe, not of North America, though geologically the island is part of both continental plates. The closest bodies of land are Greenland (287 km (178 mi)) and the Faroe Islands (420 km (261 mi)). The closest distance to the mainland of Europe is 970 km (603 mi) (to Norway).

Iceland is the world's 18th largest island, and Europe's second largest island following Great Britain. The main island is 101,826 km2 (39,315 sq mi) but the entire country is 103,000 km2 (39,768.5 sq mi) in size, of which 62.7% is tundra. There are thirty minor islands in Iceland, including the lightly populated island of Grímsey and the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. Lakes and glaciers cover 14.3%; only 23% is vegetated.[27] The largest lakes are Þórisvatn (Reservoir): 83–88 km2 (32.0–34.0 sq mi) and Þingvallavatn: 82 km2 (31.7 sq mi); other important lakes include Lögurinn and Mývatn. Öskjuvatn is the deepest lake, at 217 m (712 ft).[28]

Geologically, Iceland is a part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the ridge along which the oceanic crust spreads and forms new oceanic crust. In addition, this part of the mid-ocean ridge is located atop a mantle plume causing Iceland to be subaerial. Iceland marks the boundary between both the Eurasian Plate and the North American Plate since it has been created by rifting, and accretion through volcanism, along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge—where the two plates meet.[29]

Many fjords punctuate its 4,970 km-long coastline, which is also where most settlements are situated. The island's interior, the Highlands of Iceland, are a cold and uninhabitable combination of sand and mountains. The major towns are the capital of Reykjavík, along with its outlying towns of Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður and Garðabær, Reykjanesbær, where the international airport is located, and Akureyri, in northern Iceland. The island of Grímsey just south of the Arctic Circle contains the northernmost habitation of Iceland.[30] Iceland has three national parks: Vatnajökull National Park, Snæfellsjökull National Park, and Þingvellir National Park

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