Bruarfoss waterfall The island of Iceland lies between Norway and Greenland in the North Atlantic Ocean, just south of the Arctic Circle. In geological terms, Iceland is recent in origin. Made entirely of volcanic rock, it first pushed up above the ocean's surface between 16 and 18 million years ago. More land is still being created, at a rate of about 5 centimetres each year. Iceland is made up of mountains and volcanoes, plateaus and wide valleys. In between the mountains are long fjords and sweeping glaciers. There are very few trees; the land is mostly covered with tundra vegetation: tough grasses and moss. Despite its northerly latitude, Iceland’s climate is mild. A warm ocean current, the Gulf Stream, helps keep its winters from becoming too cold. The weather is often wet and misty at the coast.
Iceland lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the boundary where the Eurasian and American tectonic plates meet. It is what geologists call a divergent boundary: the plate edges spread apart from one another as magma (melted rock) pushes up from beneath the Earth's crust to fill the gap. There are around 200 volcanoes in Iceland—and a number of them are highly active.
Almost 80% of Iceland is uninhabited.
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