Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 360,390 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city are Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude almost entirely outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.
Volcanoes and other seismic activity have regularly reshaped parts of the country. As recently as 1963, a new island, Surtsey, emerged from the sea off the south coast. Icelanders, however, have turned this geological mayhem to their advantage and use geothermal energy to heat their homes and businesses and to enhance their leisure time. As a result, the air is wonderfully clean, and the rugged, unspoiled landscapes remain ripe for exploration and unforgettable adventures.
One way to explore Iceland is on your own with a rental car, from several days to a week, including a trip along the Ring Road that runs in a complete circle around the country. Another way to plot your adventure is with tours that can take you to the best options to see the Northern Lights, ATV trekking over lava fields, and on day trips from Reykjavik to see some of Iceland's most stunning natural beauty, like the Blue Lagoon and waterfalls.