Settled by the Vikings in the ninth century AD, Iceland is an island of nearly the same size as Kentucky. Approximately 11% of Iceland is covered by glaciers and the coastline is dotted with more than one hundred fjords and green, fertile valleys extend from many of them. Iceland also has more than 10,000 waterfalls and countless hot springs. Although Iceland has a population of 300,000 more than half live in the greater Reykjavik area, much of the country is technically uninhabitable, with moss covered rocks of ancient lava flows and tall treeless mountains. With Geothermal energy heating and many rivers being harnessed to produce hydroelectric power, Iceland is basically pollution free and energy independent. The native language spoken is Icelandic, also called Old Norse because it is from the same family as Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. Like most other Scandinavians, most Icelanders also speak fluent English, making it a perfect destination for you to visit this summer.
The first recorded use
of the word Baltic was by 11th century German chronicler Adamus
Bremen, who, writing in Latin, referred to
Mare Balticum, the Baltic Sea. One version is that he got the
term from the Danish word for belt, bælte—as in the
belt-like shape of the sea itself.
The countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, bordering on
the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, was formed in 1918, they
independent republics until their involuntary incorporation in
1940 into the USSR. They regained their independence in Sept. 1991.
have been living in this tiny portion of the Baltic lands since
approximately 2,500 B.C., making them the longest settled
of the European peoples. Due to Estonia’s strategic location
as a link between East and West, it has been highly coveted through
the ages by rapacious kings and conquerors.
Latvia is one of Europe's
great "get-away-from-it-all" discoveries.
In whichever direction you strike out from Riga, the capital, you
will rapidly discover new facets of the country. Head north east
and within an hour you're at the medieval town of Sigulda, a base
for exploring the Gauja National Park, with a castle, hotels, restaurants
and a host of sporting activities.
Traditional Lithuanian folk architecture constitutes a unique
part of north-eastern European folk architecture. Not only did
architecture in other territories populated by Lithuanians such
as Lithuania Minor, West Belarus and north-eastern Poland, but
it also shares many common features with Latvian, Western Belorussian
and Polish (Mazovian) folk architecture.