Iceland, the second largest island in Europe, is located south of the Arctic Circle, between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Greenland Sea. It is situated east of Greenland and northwest of the UK. It is overall the eighteenth-largest island in the World. Unlike the neighboring island Greenland, Iceland is considered part of Europe and not of North America.
Iceland is located east of Greenland and immediately south of
the Arctic Circle, atop the constructive boundary of the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It lies about 860 km (534 mi) from Scotland and 4,200 km (2,610 mi) from New York City. One of the
world's most sparsely populated countries.
About half of Iceland's land area, which is of recent volcanic origin, consists of a mountainous lava desert (highest elevation 2,119 m (6,952 ft) above sea level) and other wasteland. Eleven percent is covered by three large glaciers: Vatnajökull (8300 km²), Langjökull (953 km²)
and Hofsjökull (925 km²)
Twenty percent of the land is used for grazing, and only 1% is cultivated. An ambitious reforestation program is under way. Fossilized tree pollen and descriptions by the early settlers indicate that prior to human settlement in the 9th–10th century, trees covered about 30 – 40 percent of the island. Today, however, there are only small patches of the original birch forests left