Iceland Birding Tours
Iceland, the “Land of Ice and Fire”, sits in the North Atlantic and is an island nation formed from the diversion of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Iceland is about the size of the US state of Kentucky at 40,000 square miles (103,000 square kilometers) and has a population of just 364,134 people which makes it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Iceland’s capital is Reykjavik which, along with its surrounding areas, contains two thirds of the island’s population. It is a city of typical, quaint northern European architecture and makes an excellent starting point for our Iceland tour.
Iceland was first settled in 874 AD by Viking settlers from Norway. For much of its more recent history it has not been an independent country, being divided between Norway and Denmark until independence was gained in 1918. In the 20th century AD Iceland has become an incredibly wealthy and successful nation, especially after World War II. The United Nations’ Human Development Index ranks Iceland as the 6th most developed country on Earth.
Iceland sits just below the Arctic Circle at latitudes of 63o to 68o N with the nearest land being Greenland some 180 miles (290 kilometers) away to the northwest. On a wider scale, Iceland sits 600 miles (970 kilometers) from mainland Europe and 1,290 miles (2,070 kilometers) from mainland North America. After the United Kingdom, Iceland is Europe’s largest island and most of its climate is typical of the Tundra regions. The other main climate of Iceland is subarctic oceanic, with the influence of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream meaning the southern coast tends to remain ice-free during the winter. Iceland’s landmass is made up of 62.7% tundra, while lakes and glaciers cover 14.3% of the island surface. Iceland has a significant mountainous interior made up of active volcanos. This area is an inhospitable combination of sand, mountains and lava fields and is also the coldest part of the island. Iceland also has many lakes including Mývatn which we will visit on our tour – a spectacular bird-filled site.