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ICELAND
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No matter how much you hear about the awe-inspiring natural phenomena on this island on the edge of the Arctic circle, nothing can prepare you for the jaw-dropping spectacle that is Iceland. Dubbed “the Land of Fire and Ice”, this small island nation is characterised by contrasts and contradictions. It is a place where steaming geysers burst forth from icy glaciers, where molten hot lava spews out of icy snow-capped peaks, where the astonishing aurora borealis blaze across the night sky and where continuously dark winters are offset by summer’s magnificent midnight sun. With the exception of Reykjavik, the country’s population centres are small, with diminutive towns, fishing villages, farms and minute hamlets clustered along the coastal fringes. The interior, meanwhile, remains totally uninhabited. What the Icelanders lack in numbers, they certainly make up for in warmth, quirkiness, and boundless creativity. Add to this, one of the highest standards of living on earth and you have, quite simply, one of the world’s most intriguing destinations.

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Climate

Iceland's climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream. Summers are mild and winters rather cold. The colourful Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are best seen between November and February. In June and July, there are nearly 24 hours of daylight in Reykjavík, while in the northern part of the country the sun barely sets at all.

Winds can be strong and gusty at times and there is the occasional dust storm in the interior. Snow is not as common as the name of the country would seem to suggest and, in any case, does not lie for long in Reykjavík; it is only in northern Iceland that skiing conditions are reasonably certain. However, the weather is very changeable at all times of the year, and in Reykjavík there may be rain, sunshine, drizzle and snow in the same day. The air is clean and free of pollution.

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