Driftwood installation by Veiðilyesa, on the road to Djúpavík, Iceland
This uncredited art installation sits next to Veiðilyesa fjord, alongside Strandavegur, the unmetalled road which heads north as it skirts the eastern flank of Strandir. Made from found objects (driftwood, fishing debris and other beachcombed items) it's an eye-catching and distinctive fixture on the otherwise wild and unspoilt route to Djúpavík and Krossnes.
The coastline in the West Fjords region of Iceland is littered with driftwood logs, which ocean currents carry from northern Siberia. It takes around seven years for this wood to make its way across the northern seas before being thrown up on the rocky beaches skirting the fjords in the north-west.
Historically the wood was a valuable natural resource in a country with limited native forests: by law it belongs to the owner of the land on which it is cast up.
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Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.
The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.
Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".
Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.
Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights.
In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states.
Text by Steve Smith.