Why is Greenland part of North America but not Iceland?



According to geologists, the boundary between the North American plate and the Eurasian plate is the Mid-Atlantic ridge. Iceland is on this ridge (at the boundary between the plates), while Greenland is west of it (on the North American plate).

Jeff D

Geologically speaking, Greenland is on the North American tectonic plate. Iceland straddles the North American and Eurasian plates, so I guess it could go either way.


Iceland is a volcanic island that sits on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge east of Greenland, whereas Greenland sits west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge on the North American tectonic plate. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a line of volcanoes that runs the length of the Atlantic Ocean and is where new land erupts from Earth's mantle between the the tectonic plates that make up the Americas and the tectonic plates that make up Europe and Africa, pushing the American continents and the European and African continents farther and farther apart and causing the Atlantic to become ever bigger, albeit very slowly. Only on flat maps does it look like Iceland is south of Greenland. On a globe, you can see it is east of Greenland, and on a globe that shows where the tectonic plates are, you can see Greenland is on North America's plate, unlike Iceland.

Philip H

Just a guess, but it likely has to do with the location of tectonic plates. https://geology.com/plate-tectonics.shtml As you know, Iceland is volcanically active and the North American Plate divides Iceland, but all of Greenland in located on the North American Plate.


Greenland sits on the Greenland plate and this is a sub-plate of the North American plate. Geologically Greenland is part of North America. Iceland is a volcanic island that sits on the boundary between the Eurasian and North American plates.


The world is a sphere (more or less). Any lines we draw on it are arbitrary.

Lone Star Patriot

Iceland is closer to continental Europe than mainland North America.

Christian sinner

Tradition. Why is Russia considered European and not Asian?


geography and politics