A Conversation for Iceland
A few corrections..
ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms Started conversation Jul 22, 2002
Thank you Gnomon for a well researched article on Iceland. However, there are a few corrections I´d like to make:
You say that probably the glacier Vatnajökull gives the country its name. This is not so- in the Sagas and Eddas there´s an explanation given- the rebels of Norway who did not want the rule of King Harald the Fairhaired, escaped with their families to Iceland, where they could continue with their old fiefdoms in peace. They wanted to be left alone, and having seen the much colder island to the west of Iceland, they named that Greenland in the hopes of people going there rather than to Iceland.
By now, Iceland´s population is closer to 280 000- half of which live in Reykjavik _and_ its environs.
Also, not all hot water in Iceland smells of rotten eggs, although it is a distinct possbility. Water in Iceland is some of the cleanest in the world, with bottled water being exported all around the world.
Not _all_ mountains in iceland look jagged and new, a lot of them have been molded by the last ice age, so that they look weatherbeaten and smoothed out. However, few mountains in Iceland have any vegetation to speak of on them, at best they have moss, grass and some low shrubbery at their roots.
Grímsvötn is not strictly _a_ volcano. It is in fact a chain of active volcanos that connects to the main line of volcanos that almost divide Iceland in half.
What was the most glaring error to me, was the temperatures mentioned: for instance, the average temperature for July is 14°C, and the same for August. Storms are common, both in winter and summer, but rain in Iceland is a rather different experience than for instance central European rain. There are hardly any torrential downpours, and flash floods are extremely rare. Avalanches are more common, but they mostly happen away from inhabited areas, as the Icelandic have for the most part had the sense to not settle in avalanche-prone areas.
The inhabitants of Iceland were trying to avoid coming under the rule of one king of Norway, Harald the Fairhaired. There were some troublemakers among them, those mostly came to the attention of the Alþingi, and were exiled. Many of those settled in Greenland, from where they went on to discover Vinland, which is today thought to be Canada.
The Alþingi was founded in 930 AD, and it is still running today, albeit in a rather different form. The Alþingi of old was a place for laws to be set and disputes to be heard. There you could hear news of the world, make some business arrangements and catch up with friends and family. The laws were so many that it took the Lögsögumaður a few days to recite the laws, and to be Lögsögumaður (the speaker of law) was a high honour to which you had to prove worthy. Today the Alþingi is the same as any parliament, with 63 MP´s and a speaker for the house.
In 1262, Iceland agreed to share a king with Norway, then in later years when Norway was annexed or occupied, Iceland would follow. That is how Iceland came to be a part of Danish rule, and in 1662, the Danish forced the Alþingi to agree to danish sovereignty at gunpoint.
In 1944, Iceland declared its independence from danish rule, after negotiations for decades about how to achieve this.
It is true, Iceland is among the worlds richest country, with high literacy and internet penetration. The main industries are fishing, services and tourism, with industry following closely and farming somewhere lower on the list.
The icelandic language has evolved in past centuries, and continues to do so, unlike welsh, for instance. Whereas in whelsh you´d call a computer a computer, the icelandic language has it´s own name for those wonderful things, along with a name for almost anything under the sun. The icelandic alphabet has a number of letters not in the english alphabet, among which are Ðð(eth) and Þþ(thorn), but also Ææ(aye) and Öö, Áá, Íí, Éé, Óó, Úú, Ýý (here the letters are shown both in caps and lower case). And the mountain is called Herðubreið, or Herdubreid, if you can´t type the eth, although the translation is right.
Sheep were introdused to Iceland in 874 AD, with the first settlers. They soon ate most of the trees that were said to cover Iceland "from mountain to shore) although fierce debate is ongoing about the nature of those trees, their size and existance. Their damage to the land is apparent, but huge success has been had with controlling them, and reversing their effects, so Iceland looks very green once again. There are many places in Iceland very desolate and barren, but these had little to do with sheep, and more to do with geology and evolution.
While Iceland is expensive, it is only about a third more expensive than Britain, for instance. There is no need to take out a second mortgage to go for a drink in Reykjavik, just like you don´t need that in London. Although the Guinness in Iceland is to be avoided
Most inhabitants are friendly and helpful and speak english with ease. There is little crime, pollution and stress to aggravate your holiday, and there is plenty to see in Reykjavik. There is the Perlan, a great big dome shape building which has a view of the entire bay, over to Snæfellsnes on a sunny day. There is the towncentre itself, with its colourful houses, shops and crooked little streets. Reykjavik also has a worldclass symphony, theatres, opera, a dance troupe, cinemas and museums, and from Reykjavik you can organize all the things to do and see while you stay there.
After the independence day earthquakes a few years ago, Geysir erupts, but infrequently-- Strokkur right next to it is well worth seeing. And if you´re having difficulty finding "Eldjá" on a map, that´s because it´s called Eldgjá.. and the bridge has mostly collapsed.
One very good reason to come to Iceland in winter- the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.
A few corrections..
Gnomon - time to move on Posted Jul 22, 2002
Thanks, Ismarah, for all that. My article was mainly based on my own experiences in Iceland. We got the torrential rain and flash floods. Landmannalaugar was completely underwater when we got there. I'm sorry that there were a few inaccuracies, and I'm sure things have changed somewhat since I was there. But I hope my article gave everybody an impression of Iceland, and a desire to go there.
A few corrections..
Researcher 235914 Posted Jul 25, 2003
Thanks for the great article. I only have one minor correction. Whilst Gulfoss is one of the most popular tourist sites in Iceland, it is not the most powerful waterfall in Europe. That claim goes to Detifoss, in the North East.
btw, you can approach Detifoss from either the West or East sides. The East is more quiet and natural, while the West is a slightly better view.
I feel I must recommend Asbyrgi, too, it's a natural wonder with a great campsite. camping is very, very popular in Iceland and is not at all considered second-class. The state-run sites are abundant and of very high standard. The climate from May to late September is very agreeable for camping.
A few corrections..
Froskur2 Posted Jan 30, 2008
Actually just recenly floods HAVE been more popular and frecuant..same about the downpours.
And i should know..I live in Iceland.
and one other thing..they don't spell Pizza Pizza its Pítsa..although its said the same.
Ps. Sorry about the spelling..
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