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Geography

  • Iceland is a large island in the Atlantic Ocean (103,000 km²) and is part of Europe. ​
  • Iceland has extensive volcanic activity and many areas of geothermal heat. There are also glaciers and lava fields here. ​
  • The country is sparsely vegetated.​
  • The coastline is very jagged, with many fjords, bays and inlets.​
  • The highlands make up 75% of the country but no one lives there. ​
  • Towns and villages sit along the coastline. ​

Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions

  • The earth's crust is in constant motion. This creates tension, the crust breaks and the earth trembles. This is what we call an earthquake. ​
  • Earthquakes are frequent in Iceland. Most originate far from human settlements. ​
  • Although Icelandic houses are sturdy, some have been damaged in large earthquakes.​
  • Volcanoes erupt when magma and gas come up to the surface from deep in the ground. Lava flows across the land and ash falls to the ground. ​
  • Volcanic eruptions are rather frequent in Iceland. The most well-known eruptions of the past years are the Westman Islands eruption of 1973 and the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. ​

Earthquake Response

  • Do not run out if you are inside when an earthquake begins:
    • Remain where you are - many accidents occur when people run out when the debris is falling.​
    • Get under a table or a bed, protect your head and neck, hold on to solid furniture.​
    • Kneel in a corner by a supporting wall or in a door opening in a supporting wall. ​
    • Protect your head and face with a pillow if you wake up to an earthquake.​
    • Stay away from windows – they can break.​
  • Do not run inside if you are outside when you feel an earthquake:
    • Remain outside – try to find shelter to duck, cover, hold.​
  • If you are driving when you feel an earthquake:

Glaciers, Rivers and Waterfalls

  • Vatnajökull in South-East Iceland is Europe’s largest glacier. ​
  • People can go on guided glacier tours.​
  • Arctic char, trout or salmon can often be caught in Icelandic lakes and rivers. ​
  • There are waterfalls, big and small, all over Iceland. Iceland’s best-known waterfalls include Gullfoss, Dettifoss and Seljalandsfoss. ​
  • Strokkur, in the Geyser area, erupts regularly.​
  • Powerful rivers have been harnessed for electricity production​

Climate

  • Iceland has four seasons: Winter, spring, summer and autumn.​
  • In summer, the average temperature is around 10 °C and between -10 to 0 °C in winter. ​
  • Weather in Iceland can change very quickly, with snow one day and rain the next day. ​
  • Storms sometimes occur in the winter, including in urban areas. The Icelandic Meteorological Office uses a warning system with four colour codes: A green, yellow, orange and red alert. www.vedur.is
    • Orange and red alerts should be taken seriously. People should try to remain at home and avoid travelling, and children should not travel to and from school by themselves. ​

 Weather and Daily Life

  • The weather has a great impact on daily life in Iceland and Icelanders can talk endlessly about the weather. ​
  • There can be a lot of snow in winter, so people must scrape snow off their cars. Snow must be shoveled, and salt or sand distributed on footpaths and streets so people can walk and drive. ​
  • It is advisable to use crampons under your shoes to avoid falling on ice. ​
  • Winters are very dark and daylight is scarce. The northern lights dance across the sky during winter. ​
  • Summers are very bright, including the nights!​
  • Icelanders have adapted to the Icelandic climate. They go outside even if there is snow and cold weather. ​
  • It’s refreshing to go out for a walk in the winter if you wear warm clothes. ​
  • Skiing and skating are also popular winter activities. ​
  • Children love to go sledding and slide down slopes in their sleigh. ​
  • In summer, most Icelanders prefer to stay outside and use the time while it’s bright and warm to tend to their garden, travel or just cycle, walk and sit outdoors. ​

 

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