East Iceland

East Iceland was in anvient times marked from the north of Mt. Grunnólfsvík west to Skeiðarársandur sands. Geologically, the county of East Skaftafell should belong to South Iceland and that division is used here. Further into the country the borders are on the middle of Helkunduheiði moor and the mountains on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river towards Ferjuás, southwest of Víðidalur valley. From there the borders are along the Jökulsá river south to the Vatnajökull glacier.
 
East Iceland was in anvient times divided into two districts: Múlaþing and Austur-Skaftafellssýsla, the latter now belonging to South Iceland. On the north coast there are three bays: Bakkaflói, Vopnafjörður and Héraðsflói. From there are large inland heaths and plains all the way to Vatnajökull glacier and the Highland interior.

The coastline shows great diversity, transforming from the broad bays of Bakkaflói, Vopnafjörður and Héraðsflói in the north, into the rugged and sheer eastern shore with its many jagged fjords isolated from each other by towering mountain ranges. Most of the fjords have fine sheltered natural harbours, while the coast farther south is more exposed and prone to blocking by sand to create lagoons. There are four islands off the coast: Seley, Skrúður, Andey and Papey.
 
A high mountain range, topped by Smjörfjall (Butter Mountain), separates Vopnafjörður and the plain of Fljótsdalshérað. The plain spreads far inland, with the mountains that lead to the interior on one side and the massif behind the fjords on the other. Many powerful rivers drain seawards through the district, in particular towards the north. Farther south, on the other hand, smaller rivers are found in the valleys, where waterfalls are abundant. There are many lakes, but none of them large, unless the wide Lagarfljót is classified as a lake rather than a river.
 
Basalt is the main rock type, but rhyolite is common too. Minerals, semi-precious stones and fossils are also found in many places. The bedrock is old (13 million years) and its volcanoes are extinct, so there is little geothermal activity.
 
Rich flora typifies the valleys, but the mountains tend to be bare. The plains include the largest forests in Iceland. The heathland towards the interior is the natural habitat of Iceland's wild reindeer stock. Fishing is the main activity in coastal areas, and sheep farming inland.






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