The Nordic countries are, as the name indicates, situated to the north of just about everything except the North Pole. Made slightly warmer than the latitude would justify by the presence of the Gulf Stream, these countries are populated by people who enjoy lots of daylight in summer, endure lots of darkness in winter, and imbibe lots of beer all year. The Nordics consist of five independent countries: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, which together measure about 1.32 million square kilometres (about three-quarters the size of Alaska) and are home to about 26 million people (about 35 times the population of Alaska). By far the least populated, most mysterious and furthest away of these is Iceland, a volcanic pile of rock situated so far out in the Atlantic that you can practically smell North America.
Growing up in Norway, we learnt a fair bit about Iceland in school, mainly because the country was settled by Norwegian Vikings who seemed to think that it was a great idea to
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