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The divergence of the American and Eurasian plate tectonics has spawned the creation of this unique sub-Arctic island. Despite is relative youth in a geological sense, Iceland is a treasure trove of cultural history. The famous Norse sagas and folktales of trolls and elves are wonderfully suited to the sparsely-populated and even more sparsely-treed peaks and valleys of lichen and wildflower-covered volcanic basalt. The powerful effect of the warm Gulf Stream keeps temperatures moderated, but is not so potent as to keep Iceland from being more than 10% covered in glaciers. Geothermal heat manifests in the form of numerous hot springs, boiling mud pits, spouting geysers and of course the volcanoes, many of which remain very much active. The rugged landscape also features an impressive array of waterfalls, including the sweeping Gullfoss and its mist-born rainbows. The almost 24 hours of daylight in the summer offer near endless photo opportunities of loud inland landscapes and louder coastal colonies of cliff-nesting seabirds. Iceland also has the highest per capita rate of books published of any country in the world.

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