The Icelandic Nature, Geology and Biology
Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland is a hot spot of volcanic and geothermal activity: 30 post-glacial volcanoes have erupted in the past two centuries, and natural hot water supplies much of the population with cheap, pollution-free heating. Rivers, too, are harnessed to provide inexpensive hydroelectric power.
Geologically speaking, Iceland is a very young country; its creation began less than 20 million years ago and is still progressing today. Volcanic eruptions in the Mid Atlantic Ridge, on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, created a mountain which grew above sea level, resulting in an island. So Iceland truly has a volcanic origin. This is illustrated by the presence of picturesque lava fields, craters, volcanoes, table mountains, mountains of pumice and fields of volcanic ash.
Iceland’s wildlife reflects the youth of the country. There are relatively few insect species and only a handful of wild mammals. In the ninth century, when the first settlers arrived in Iceland, the only native mammal was the arctic fox, but later on other species were introduced by man. Birds are still discovering Iceland and new species are regularly observed. There are no reptiles and amphibians, and there are simply no dangerous animals!
Another consequence of Iceland’s location in the Arctic that will amaze the visitor is the vegetation. The summer is short, so flowers that bloom in different months further south all bloom at the same time in Iceland. They do not always grow as tall as they do further south: orchids and gentians are plentiful in Iceland but are smaller than elsewhere. The energy and heat in Iceland’s soil create conditions that are unique at this latitude and make the vegetation much richer than one would expect.
You can rent a car and drive to see many of those places, and at some places offer hotels or some sort of cheap accommodation.