Saturday, April 17, 2010
Holy Volcano Batman!
If you've been following the news at all this week, you will know a volcanic eruption on the small island country of Iceland has thrown all of Europe into a tailspin, creating ash-filled skies over the continent and shutting down major airports.
My first thought upon hearing this story was, "Iceland has volcanoes?". I hate to admit my ignorance, but my only previous knowledge of Iceland is that it is cold and the singer Bjork is from there.
It sparked my curiosity enough to do some very brief research. It reminded me how fun research can be and the many gems you can find to spark story ideas.
Here is some interesting info I found about Iceland (attributed to GVP/Smithsonian Institution):
Iceland has the land area of Virginia and the population of Virginia Beach (about 260,000 people). The country has the highest literacy rate (100%) of any nation in the world. Its history has always been closely related to volcanoes and knowledge of many volcanic eruptions since the middle ages are preserved in accounts.
First settled by Vikings in the 9th century AD, Iceland established its own parliament in 930 and recorded its first historical volcanic eruption only a few years later. After a golden age of literature in the 12th and 13th centuries (when the sagas were written), natural history reporting reached a low around the 15th century. In the years 1707-09 a third of the population died from smallpox, and the 1783-84 Laki eruption killed a fifth of the remaining population by famine. Iceland gained sovereignty from Denmark in 1918 and complete independence in 1944.