Explosive, afire and intense with heat, twisting and contorting, with flowing, glowing rivers of molten rock. Thus, Iceland was born, steaming into this world from its mothering northern sea. And so in places its sensational creation is ongoing. Geysers still gush and spurt scalding, aqua fanfares while volcanoes occasionally belch great plumes of ash-laden smoke into an ever-changing sky. This is a land where remnants of a long-gone age of ice and the scorching subterranean heat contrast to create one of the most expressive displays of geological genesis to be found on this planet. The alchemist that is nature itself has prepared an elixir made from fire and ice. The uninterrupted, austerely alluring landscapes have been pigmented by the elements and blended naturally through time. These are the dramatic performances, the art and the song of nature.
Iceland is a country where nature is alive and where natural landscapes and wonders are full of contrast. It is not only a place to visit but to discover and experiment with. The Icelandic nation and the nature of the island are still young, active and with a strong personality. The forces of nature has been unrestrainable since this island surfaced from the cold waters of the North Atlantic, driven by the primeval fury of the volcanoes that are still active nowadays.
Iceland is geologically the youngest nation in Europe and its still in transformation. 250.000 people lives in a country of 103.000 square meters, making Iceland the least populated country of the continent: its an island still in its primordial condition, rich of wide territories, uninhabited and uninhabitable. Icelanders have plenty of space where they can enjoy the freshest air of the whole planet.
The last of the European countries to be born, Iceland was also the last to be colonized by the Vikings that brought with them their ancient Norman language, still intact after all these years. Most of the Sagas tells of the events prior and leading to the colonization and are among the most important undertakings in Iceland.
The first Icelanders didnt establish only a nation but also a kind of republican government unique in their time. Established in 930, the Nation Parliament (called Althing) represent the most ancient parliamentary assembly in the world still in force. Up to 1845 the meetings has been held in the Thingveiller, now a national park of breathtaking beauty, a real natural jewel considered the temple of Icelandic nationality.
Ancient values of individual freedom that drove the first colonists to the island still drive each Icelanders action in a certain way. Surrounding land as an act of possession and refusing external impositions are strong motivating factors of the Icelanders behavior.
Although Icelanders ardently defends their ancient language from foreign influences, striving to translate the international technological vocabulary with "native" words, their main attitude toward cultural influences from abroad is one of assimilation, not one of refusal. Modern Icelanders, even with their modern and cosmopolitan lifestyle and behaviors, retain affection and interest in the beauty and simplicity of a wildlife existence.
Since their pagan forefathers conquered "exclusive rights" on mythological literature about Nordic divinities, Icelanders had a rich cultural and literary tradition. Even in modern times Icelanders are a "literary race": along with their close contact with the natural world, evident in everyday life, it is through this classical language and its literary treasure, still alive in modern times, that Icelanders can keep alive a distinct identity in the increasingly uniform modern lifestyle.
Each Icelander share a common basic experience with all the people of this island, useful to strengthen a sense of unity and social democracy thats truly important in the small Icelandic community. Class differences are reduced here, if compared to those of other countries, and there are no repercussion on the language. Courteousness doesnt exist anymore; Icelanders doesnt use surnames, but the more ancient patronymic that mark descent along the fathers line.
Icelanders are typically energetic in their activities and participation to cultural and social events is usually quite elevated, even though this people has less spare time than those of other countries.
Iceland is a place that has been transformed in the last fifty years of independence from a rural society to an highly advanced nation with a very busy lifestyle. But this had no influence on ancient beliefs, magical and supernatural ones.
In a nation where two different worlds already live, one of ancient culture and one of intact natural wildlife, this is no great surprise.
Text taken from: Islanda and Iceland - Bernard Scudder, Gary Wake and Jón Kaldal - The Iceland Tourist Board - Reykjavik, 1993 and 1997. Pictures taken from Internet