Iceland tourist information
Tourism in Iceland has become a more significant part of the national economy. The tourism industry was estimated to contribute to 4.1% of the country's GNP as of 2006.In 2010, 500,000 tourists visited Iceland. Tourism to Iceland has grown steadily since the 1990s. In 2000, the annual number of visitors exceeded the total resident population for the first time. Since then, tourism has grown by about 11% on average each year. Some 360,000 people visited Iceland in 2004,, compared with 485,000 in 2007 and over 500,000 in 2008. The number of nights spent was 0.585 million in 2000 and 1.05 million in 2008.
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The climate of Iceland's coast is subpolar oceanic. The warm North Atlantic Current ensures generally higher annual temperatures than in most places of similar latitude in the world. Regions in the world with similar climate include the Aleutian Islands, the Alaska Peninsula, and Tierra del Fuego, although these regions are closer to the equator. Despite its proximity to the Arctic, the island's coasts remain ice-free through the winter. Ice incursions are rare, the last having occurred on the north coast in 1969.
There are some variations in the climate between different parts of the island. Generally speaking, the south coast is warmer, wetter and windier than the north. The Central Highlands are the coldest part of the country. Low-lying inland areas in the north are the most arid. Snowfall in winter is more common in the north than the south.
The highest air temperature recorded was 30.5 ¬įC (86.9 ¬įF) on 22 June 1939 at Teigarhorn on the southeastern coast. The lowest was ‚ąí38 ¬įC (‚ąí36.4 ¬įF) on 22 January 1918 at Gr√≠mssta√įir and M√∂√įrudalur in the northeastern hinterland. The temperature records for Reykjav√≠k are 26.2 ¬įC (79.2 ¬įF) on 30 July 2008, and ‚ąí24.5 ¬įC (‚ąí12.1 ¬įF) on 21 January 1918.
Iceland has a high level of car ownership per capita; with a car for every 1.5 inhabitants, it is the main form of transport. Iceland has 13,034 km (8,099 mi) of administered roads, of which 4,617 km (2,869 mi) are paved and 8,338 km (5,181 mi) are not. A great number of roads remain unpaved to this day, mostly little used rural roads. The road speed limits are 50 km/h (31 mph) in towns, 80 km/h (50 mph) on gravel country roads and 90 km/h (56 mph) is the limit on hard-surfaced roads. Iceland currently has no railways.
Route 1, or the Ring Road (Icelandic: √ěj√≥√įvegur 1 or Hringvegur), was completed in 1974, and is a main road that runs around Iceland and connects all the inhabited parts of the island, with the interior of the island being uninhabited. This paved road is 1,337 km (831 mi) long with one lane in each direction, except near larger towns and cities and in the Hvalfj√∂r√įur Tunnel where it has more lanes. Many bridges on it, especially in the north and east, are single lane and made of timber and/or steel.
The main hub for international transport is Keflav√≠k International Airport, which serves Reykjav√≠k and the country in general. It is 48 km (30 mi) to the west of Reykjav√≠k. Domestic flights, flights to Greenland and the Faroe Islands and business flights operate mostly out of Reykjav√≠k Airport, which lies in the city centre. Most general aviation traffic is also in Reykjav√≠k. There are 103 registered airports and airfields in Iceland; most of them are unpaved and located in rural areas. The biggest airport in Iceland is Keflav√≠k International Airport and the biggest airfield is Geitamelur, a four-runway field around 100 km (62 mi) east of Reykjav√≠k, dedicated exclusively to gliding.
Icelandic culture has its roots in Norse traditions. Icelandic literature is popular, in particular the sagas and eddas which were written during the High and Late Middle Ages. Icelanders place relatively great importance on independence and self-sufficiency; in a European Commission public opinion analysis over 85% of Icelanders found independence to be "very important" contrasted with the EU25 average of 53%, and 47% for the Norwegians, and 49% for the Danes.
Some traditional beliefs remain today; for example, some Icelanders either believe in elves or are unwilling to rule out their existence.
Iceland is progressive in terms of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) matters. In 1996, the Icelandic parliament passed legislation to create registered partnerships for same-sex couples, covering nearly all the rights and benefits of marriage. In 2006, by unanimous vote of the parliament, further legislation was passed, granting same-sex couples the same rights as different-sex couples in adoption, parenting and assisted insemination treatment. On 11 June 2010, the Icelandic parliament amended the marriage law, making it gender neutral and defining marriage as between two individuals, thereby legalising same-sex marriage. The law took effect on 27 June 2010. The amendment to the law also means registered partnerships for same-sex couples are now no longer possible, and marriage is their only option‚ÄĒidentical to the existing situation for opposite-sex couples.
The distinctive rendition of the Icelandic landscape by its painters can be linked to nationalism and the movement to home rule and independence, which was very active in this period.
Contemporary Icelandic painting is typically traced to the work of √ě√≥rarinn √ěorl√°ksson, who, following formal training in art in the 1890s in Copenhagen, returned to Iceland to paint and exhibit works from 1900 to his death in 1924, almost exclusively portraying the Icelandic landscape. Several other Icelandic men and women artists studied at Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts at that time, including √Āsgr√≠mur J√≥nsson, who together with √ě√≥rarinn created a distinctive portrayal of Iceland's landscape in a romantic naturalistic style. Other landscape artists quickly followed in the footsteps of √ě√≥rarinn and √Āsgr√≠mur. These included J√≥hannes Kjarval and J√ļl√≠ana Sveinsd√≥ttir. Kjarval in particular is noted for the distinct techniques in the application of paint that he developed in a concerted effort to render the characteristic volcanic rock that dominates the Icelandic environment. Einar H√°konarson is an expressionistic and figurative painter who by some is considered to have brought the figure back into Icelandic painting. In the 1980s, many Icelandic artists worked with the subject of the new painting in their work.
In the recent years artistic practice has multiplied, and the Icelandic art scene has become a setting for many large scale projects and exhibitions. The artist run gallery space Kling og Bang, members of which later ran the studio complex and exhibition venue Klink og Bank has been a significant portion of the trend of self-organised spaces, exhibitions and projects. The Living Art Museum, Reykjav√≠k Municipal Art Museum, Reykjavik Art Museum and the National Gallery of Iceland are the larger, more established institutions, curating shows and festivals.
Most of Iceland's cuisine is based on fish, lamb, and dairy products. √ěorramatur is a selection of traditional cuisine consisting of many dishes, and is usually consumed around the month of √ěorri, which begins on the first Friday, after 19 January. Traditional dishes also include skyr, cured ram scrota, cured shark, singed sheep heads, and black pudding. One of the most traditional dishes is h√°karl, which consists of beheaded, gutted shark which is left buried underground to ferment for several months.