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Iceland's National Day
“Hæ, hó, jibbí, jei og jibbí, jei – Það er kominn 17. júní!”
Happy Independence Day Iceland and Icelanders! Iceland, land of fire and ice, is the second largest island in the North-Atlantic Ocean and is entirely volcanic, hosting glaciers and geysers, hot springs and waterfalls, basalt pillars, black sand beaches, frigid fjords and fields of lava! Near the Arctic tundra, the summer growing season is just 50 to 60 days, with the sun shining up to 24 hours a day. The striking summer vegetation of this area, both native and imported, include wildflowers, lichens and fungi, berries and mosses. Because of the layer of permafrost, acting as a barrier to tree roots, no trees can grow above it and even water cannot penetrate. The resultant bogs, shallow lakes, and marshes yield an explosion of animal and insect life, providing food for millions of migrating birds! 🇮🇸 🌋
One of a series of tartans illustrating the natural wonders and flora and fauna of Iceland, this tartan, by designer Carol A.L. Martin, represents the varied colours of the the surprising number of flowering plants that grow low to the ground in the harsh climate of the Arctic Tundra of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia.
Around 490 plants grow wild in Iceland, a figure that includes both native plants and imported plants that have colonised the island, including clubmosses, ferns, flowering plants, and trees.
It is estimated that before the arrival of the Viking colonists over 1000-years ago, 40% of Iceland was wooded. Mass deforestation occurred as the early Icelanders needed materials to build their ships, homes and fires to keep them warm. This process only took approximately 300-years and since then, Iceland has suffered desertification as well as issues with soil erosion, leaving the barren treeless geography that characterises most of Iceland today.
Even so, in recent years, considerable efforts have been made to recultivate woodlands with a significant degree of success. Over 85 foreign tree species have been introduced to Iceland, the most common and triumphant to flourish include the sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta).
Icelandic National Day (Icelandic: Þjóðhátíðardagurinn, the day of the nation's celebration) is an annual holiday in Iceland which commemorates the foundation of The Republic of Iceland on 17 June 1944. This date also marks the end of Iceland's centuries old ties with Denmark. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, a major figure of Icelandic culture and the leader of the 19th century Icelandic independence movement.
For a compendium of icelandic flowers, click the landscape.