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News Currents Sr.
A current events product that introduces adults to the world around them in a unique and engaging way.
Story Text | Country of the Week
Country of the Week: Iceland
Iceland is an island nation just south of the Arctic Circle.
Iceland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is the second-largest island in Europe, after Great Britain. Only about 372,000 people live there, and one-third of them live in the capital city, Reykjavík—RAY-kyuh-vik. It is famous for its colorful rooftops, and known for being safe and clean. What can you tell about this city from the picture? Iceland is a Nordic country, like Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdottír heads the government. She was chosen in 2017.
Iceland has a lot of geologic activity, such as volcanoes and geysers. Geysers are underground hot springs that shoot out water and steam. Strokkur geyser erupts about every 10 minutes, and is a popular tourist attraction. The country uses this geologic activity to create geothermal energy, or energy that is made using the heat in the Earth. Almost all of the houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal power, and most of the energy comes from geothermal and other “green,” renewable sources, such as hydropower. What is this? (Energy made from the falling o fast-running water.)
Iceland is located just south of the Arctic Circle. The sun is only out for about hours a day in the winter, and in the summer, the sun sets for just 3 hours a day. It can get very cold in the winter in the north, but the ocean keeps the temperature near Reykjavik milder. What do you think it would be like to live in Iceland? More than 1 million people visit each year. This is more than three times the country’s population. Whale watching is one popular tourist activity.
Because Iceland was isolated, it has unique animals and a unique culture.
Iceland’s first permanent settler was Ingólfr Arnarson, who arrived with his wife and brother from Norway in the year 874. Iceland became part of Norway and later Denmark. It finally gained its independence in 1944. When the first people arrived, Iceland’s only native land mammal was the Arctic fox. The Icelandic horse evolved over centuries. Its ancestors were brought from Europe. Icelandic horses are small, and known for their steadiness on the rocky landscape. Traditional homes in Iceland were called “turf houses.” What is turf? (The top layer of Earth, with soil and grass.) The turf provides more warmth in the cold winters than walls made only of stone or wood. What do you notice about these houses?
Iceland is a very peaceful society with one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Unemployment is low and people have universal health care. The average life expectancy is nearly 82 years old, one of the highest in the world. More than 90 percent of the population is ethnically Icelandic. Because of the country’s small size, people value community and cooperation. Iceland ranks as one of the world’s happiest countries. What do you think contributes to their happiness?
Iceland has a unique culture. It has many ancient myths that are still important to the country’s national identity. What are myths? (Stories about gods and how the world was created.) The Prose Edda was written around the year 1220, and it is the source of many of these myths. Do you know any myths? If so, what do you know?
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