Eurasian Iceland

Iceland is a sparsely inhabited country first settled in the 9th century A.D. with the largest glacier in all of Europe, the Vatnajokull ice cap. Mean monthly air temperature at sea level does not rise above 12 °C (53.6 °F) anywhere in the country and over 60% of landmass sits above 400 m (1,312 ft) in elevation. Soils in Iceland are dominantly andosols due to continued activity of volcanoes. The activity of volcanoes and the dominance of glaciers on the land surface are the reason Iceland is often called the land of fire and ice. Heathland, scrub and wet meadows are the dominant plant communities. Mosses and lichens are also prominent in the landscape and grow on hummock tops.