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Map of Iceland

Its name suggests a barren ice wilderness and yet its weather is mild and pleasant for most of the year. As isolated as the country is, its population is one of the most educated in the world. In fact, its trend toward literacy probably stared back in the 12th century when the art of storytelling - the sagas- first appeared soon followed by writing. The landscape is as varied as any much larger country with geysers, volcanoes, mountains, fjords and scenic harbors. Iceland is a very different place to visit and yet so close to home.

Map of Iceland

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Iceland

Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930. Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century, 20% of the island's population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the US. Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. Literacy, longevity, income, and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.

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What's New in Europe!

Events & Festivals

London events highlights: Japanese crafts, ‘Pop Art’ and gardening all feature in London’s cultural events calendar this summer and beyond.

Royal wedding dress at Buckingham Palace: A special exhibition at Buckingham Palace this summer will recreate the day in 1947 when Princess Elizabeth - now Queen Elizabeth II - married the Duke of Edinburgh in a glittering ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey.

Attractions

Shrewsbury recreates its summer season: Performances by Jools Holland, George Melly and Beverly Knight are among the 370 cultural and artistic events over 100 days at the 'Shrewsbury Summer Season' this year (May 19-Sept. 9).

Scotland’s oldest house marks 900 years: The longest continually inhabited house in Scotland is 900 years old. Once a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland (it hosted 27 monarchs over the years), the Stuarts of Traquair House supported Mary, Queen of Scots and the doomed Jacobite cause.

News

Ceramics Festival in The Potteries: Designers, studio potters, experts and collectors will be making their way to The Potteries this autumn for the Stoke-on-Trent Ceramics Festival 2007 (Oct.5-7).

Macdonald Hotels transforms Cheshire golf venue: Three championship golf courses and the largest indoor golf academy in Europe at The Portal Golf Club venue are to be part of the new four star Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf and Spa in Cheshire when it opens in July.