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Iceland - a Work in Progress

Iceland is the second-largest island in Europe after Great Britain. Created about 20 million years ago by volcanic activity, it is still an island of active and regularly erupting volcanoes. New land is continually being formed by the lava, but not without danger.

The Askja volcano eruption in 1875 caused widespread hardship and famine, and the 1973 eruption on the island of Heimaey almost destroyed the country's most important fishing port.

But the activity beneath the Earth's surface has positive applications as well. Home heating in Reykjavik and other towns is provided by the hot springs that are found throughout Iceland.

Originally settled by Norwegian and Celtic immigrants in the late 9th and early 10th centuries, Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly - the Althing, established in 930. The island came under the control of Denmark in the late 14th century, but in 1944, Iceland declared itself independent. Today it is a republic with a parliamentary government.

The city of Reykjavik is the northernmost national capital in the world, leading some to suggest that the country's long democratic tradition resulted from the "cooler heads" of its politicians.

Iceland represents one of eight countries with a portion of its territory within the Arctic Circle (in this case, just a teeny-tiny corner). Do you know the others? Play the GAME!

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A Guide to Arctic Sunrise and Sunset GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?

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