Iceland Is In Europe…something this American did not quite realize.

This may not come as a surprise to any European readers out there, but to my American mind I never thought of Iceland as being part of Europe.  I mean, it’s an island out there in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, I just thought of it as a place of its own.

Iceland on the Polar Map

Do you see it there in orange, fairly close to Greenland and the British Isles?

In my travel preparations I learned that Iceland straddles both the European and the North American tectonic plates. But the sentiment is not also divided, Icelanders and Europeans consider Iceland to be part of Europe.  It hasn’t joined the E.U, yet,  and may not (touchy subject,) but it’s still European.

It’ seems to be a matter of culture and influence. The Icelandic settlers came almost entirely from Scandinavia and the British Isles…mostly Norway and Ireland.  And they estimate that by ship at that time, a 1,000 years ago, with the right winds you could make it from Iceland to Norway in just 72 hours!

courtesy of Reykjavík Museum of Photography

courtesy of Reykjavík Museum of Photography

Icelanders did travel to North America on multiple occasions (remember Leif Erickson) but they weren’t making regular trips back and forth like they were to Europe.  There was that small issue of North America being inhabited and those inhabitants not being too keen on the Viking visitors.  With Europe though there were more regular trade routes.  For example, the trees for the Icelandic boats and later, the kits for their timber houses were coming from Norway, not New England.

And then there is the whole historical issue of brief Norwegian Rule, quickly followed by 500 years of Danish Rule with eventual mandatory Danish language education in schools.  I guess my American history lessons didn’t exactly emphasize Icelandic history when they were covering Europe, leaving me just a little confused.

The design aesthetic is also far more Scandinavian inspired then any other region.  So while it may only take 4 hours to fly to Rekjavík from Boston or 6.5 hours from’s still Europe fair and square.  Which now ups my tally to a measly 4 European countries….don’t tell, I feel so very unwordly.

If you have any final doubts they can be put to rest as Europe claims Vatnajökull to be their largest glacier and Dettifoss to be the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe.  Both are located in Iceland.

Dettifoss, Europe's Most Powerful Waterfall
Dettifoss, Europe’s Most Powerful Waterfall