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Vatnajökull National Park was established in 2008. It includes the national parks in Skaftafell (est. 1967) and Jökulsárgljúfur (est. 1973) along with the Vatnajökull ice cap itself and extensive areas around it. The National Park is characterised by diversity on all fronts, be it landscape, biosphere, cultural remains or service levels. For simplification, however, it may be placed into two categories: uninhabited highland areas with limited services and lowland areas with higher service levels.

The park‘s visitor centers are all located in lowland areas. Each of them has an exhibition about the park‘s nature and cultural heritage. Each also has a souvenir shop with special emphasis on local handicraft and products.

On the 5th of July 2019 Vatnajökull National Park was inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Vatnajökull National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage list under natural criterion (viii). That means that the area qualifies as an outstanding example representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.

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Protected Areas in Iceland

A deep blue lake in a crater in a crater in snowy season

Lake Mývatn and Laxa Nature Conservation Area

The ecosystem of Lake Mývatn' is truly unique. The name of the lake derives from the myriad of midges in the area.
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A still lake surrounded by mountains

Fjallabak Nature Reserve

The highland reserve received its protected status in 1979. The aim of the protection is to preserve unique areas so that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy them in the same way as we do.
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Volcanic rocky terrain

Surtsey Nature Reserve

Surtsey was formed in a volcanic eruption first detected on the surface of the ocean on November 14th 1963. The eruption most likely started a few days before as a submarine eruption at a depth of approximately 130 meters.
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Rocky terrain and steep-edged mountains in the distance

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

The nature reserve contains gigantic bird cliffs, unique flora and cultural remnants that serve as monuments to an earlier era when people still lived there.
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