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Introduction - Iceland:




Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the worlds oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930. Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century, 20% of the islands population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the US. Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. Literacy, longevity, income, and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.

Location - Iceland:


Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the UK

Geographic coordinates

65 00 N, 18 00 W

Map references

Arctic Region


total: 103,000 sq km
land: 100,250 sq km
water: 2,750 sq km

Area comparative

slightly smaller than Kentucky

Land boundaries

0 km


4,970 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


temperate; moderated by North Atlantic Current; mild, windy winters; damp, cool summers


mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields; coast deeply indented by bays and fiords

Elevation extremes

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Hvannadalshnukur 2,110 m (at Vatnajokull glacier)

Natural resources

fish, hydropower, geothermal power, diatomite

Land use

arable land: 0.07%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 99.93% (2005)

Irrigated land


Natural hazards

earthquakes and volcanic activity

Environment current issues

water pollution from fertilizer runoff; inadequate wastewater treatment

Environment international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Transboundary Air Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation

Geography note

strategic location between Greenland and Europe; westernmost European country; Reykjavik is the northernmost national capital in the world; more land covered by glaciers than in all of continental Europe

People - Iceland:


301,931 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 21.4% (male 32,759/female 31,845)
15-64 years: 66.8% (male 102,161/female 99,411)
65 years and over: 11.8% (male 16,162/female 19,593) (2007 est.)

Median age

total: 34.5 years
male: 34 years
female: 35 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

0.824% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

13.57 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

6.77 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

1.43 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.029 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.028 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.825 male(s)/female
total population: 1.002 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.27 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.41 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.12 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 80.43 years
male: 78.33 years
female: 82.62 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.91 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rate

0.2% (2001 est.)

Hiv aids people living with hiv aids

220 (2001 est.)

Hiv aids deaths

less than 100 (2003 est.)


noun: Icelander(s)
adjective: Icelandic

Ethnic groups

homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norse and Celts 94%, population of foreign origin 6%


Lutheran Church of Iceland 85.5%, Reykjavik Free Church 2.1%, Roman Catholic Church 2%, Hafnarfjorour Free Church 1.5%, other Christian 2.7%, other or unspecified 3.8%, unaffiliated 2.4% (2004)


Icelandic, English, Nordic languages, German widely spoken


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)

Government - Iceland:

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Iceland
conventional short form: Iceland
local long form: Lydveldid Island
local short form: Island

Government type

constitutional republic


name: Reykjavik
geographic coordinates: 64 09 N, 21 57 W
time difference: UTC (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

8 regions; Austurland, Hofudhborgarsvaedhi, Nordhurland Eystra, Nordhurland Vestra, Sudhurland, Sudhurnes, Vestfirdhir, Vesturland


1 December 1918 (became a sovereign state under the Danish Crown); 17 June 1944 (from Denmark)

National holiday

Independence Day, 17 June (1944)


16 June 1944, effective 17 June 1944; amended many times

Legal system

civil law system based on Danish law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON (since 1 August 1996)
head of government: Prime Minister Geir H. HAARDE (since 7 June 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
elections: president, largely a ceremonial post, is elected by popular vote for a four-year term (no term limits); election last held 26 June 2004 (next to be held in June 2008); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually the prime minister
election results: Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON 85.6%, Baldur AGUSTSSON 12.5%, Astthor MAGNUSSON 1.9%

Legislative branch

unicameral Parliament or Althing (63 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 12 May 2007 (next to be held by May 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - Independence Party 36.6%, Social Democratic Alliance 26.8%, Progressive Party 11.7%, Left-Green Movement 14.3%, Liberal Party 7.3%, other 3.3%; seats by party - Independence Party 25, Social Democratic Alliance 18, Progressive Party 7, Left-Green Alliance 9, Liberal Party 4

Judicial branch

Supreme Court or Haestirettur (justices are appointed for life by the Minister of Justice); eight district courts (justices are appointed for life by the Minister of Justice)

Political parties and leaders

Independence Party or IP [Geir H. HAARDE]; Left-Green Movement or LGM [Steingrimur SIGFUSSON]; Liberal Party or LP [Gudjon KRISTJANSSON]; Progressive Party or PP [Jon SIGURDSSON]; Social Democratic Alliance or SDA [Ingibjorg Solrun GISLADOTTIR] (includes Peoples Alliance or PA, Social Democratic Party or SDP, Womens List)

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Albert JONSSON
chancery: Suite 1200, 1156 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005-1704
telephone: [1] (202) 265-6653
FAX: [1] (202) 265-6656
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Carol VAN VOORST
embassy: Laufasvegur 21, 101 Reykjavik
mailing address: US Department of State, 5640 Reykjavik Place, Washington, D.C. 20521-5640
telephone: [354] 562-9100
FAX: [354] 562-9118

Flag description

blue with a red cross outlined in white extending to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag)

Economy - Iceland:

Economy overview

Icelands Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic, yet with an extensive welfare system (including generous housing subsidies), low unemployment, and remarkably even distribution of income. In the absence of other natural resources (except for abundant geothermal power), the economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, which provides nearly 70% of export earnings and employs 6% of the work force. The economy remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to fluctuations in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. Government policies include reducing the current account deficit, limiting foreign borrowing, containing inflation, revising agricultural and fishing policies, and diversifying the economy. The government remains opposed to EU membership, primarily because of Icelanders concern about losing control over their fishing resources. Icelands economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the last decade, and new developments in software production, biotechnology, and financial services are taking place. The tourism sector is also expanding, with the recent trends in ecotourism and whale watching. Since 2000 growth has varied from -1% in 2002 to 8% in 2004. The 2006 closure of the US military base at Keflavik had very little impact on the national economy; Icelands low unemployment rate aided former base employees in finding alternate employment.

Gdp purchasing power parity

$11.38 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate

$13.71 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp real growth rate

2.6% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$38,000 (2006 est.)

Gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 8.4%
industry: 15.6%
services: 76% (2006 est.)

Labor force

173,000 (2006 est.)

Labor force by occupation

agriculture: 5.1%
industry: 23%
services: 71.4% (2005)

Unemployment rate

1.3% (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate consumer prices

6.8% (2006 est.)

Investment gross fixed

31.4% of GDP (2006 est.)


revenues: $7.345 billion
expenditures: $6.655 billion; including capital expenditures of $467 million (2006 est.)

Public debt

23.5% of GDP (2006 est.)

Agriculture products

potatoes, green vegetables; mutton, dairy products; fish


fish processing; aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production; geothermal power, tourism

Industrial production growth rate

5% (2006 est.)

Electricity production

8.474 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity consumption

7.881 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity exports

0 kWh (2004)

Electricity imports

0 kWh (2004)

Oil production

0 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil consumption

20,560 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exports

0 bbl/day (2004)

Oil imports

17,450 bbl/day (2004)

Oil proved reserves

0 bbl

Natural gas production

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Current account balance

-$2.932 billion (2006 est.)


$3.587 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Exports commodities

fish and fish products 70%, aluminum, animal products, ferrosilicon, diatomite

Exports partners

Netherlands 17.6%, UK 16.4%, Germany 15.9%, Spain 6.8%, US 6.6%, Norway 4.2% (2006)


$5.189 billion (2006 est.)

Imports commodities

machinery and equipment, petroleum products, foodstuffs, textiles

Imports partners

Germany 13%, US 9%, Norway 7.6%, Sweden 7.6%, Denmark 6.6%, UK 5.6%, Netherlands 5.2%, China 4.9%, Japan 4.4%, France 4.2% (2006)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.018 billion (August 2006 est.)

Economic aid donor

$6.7 million (2004)

Debt external

$3.073 billion (2002)

Currency code

Icelandic krona (ISK)

Exchange rates

Icelandic kronur per US dollar - 70.195 (2006), 62.982 (2005), 70.192 (2004), 76.709 (2003), 91.662 (2002)

Communications - Iceland:

Fiscal year

calendar year

Telephones main lines in use

193,700 (2006)

Telephones mobile cellular

328,500 (2006)

Telephone system

general assessment: extensive domestic service
domestic: the trunk network consists of coaxial and fiber-optic cables and microwave radio relay links
international: country code - 354; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions); note - Iceland shares the Inmarsat earth station with the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 3, FM about 70 (including repeaters), shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

14 (plus 156 repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

212,897 (2006)

Internet users

194,000 (2006)

Transportation - Iceland:


98 (2006)

Airports with paved runways

total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runways

total: 93
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 29
under 914 m: 61 (2006)


total: 13,028 km
paved/oiled gravel: 4,241 km (does not include urban roads)
unpaved: 8,787 km (2005)

Merchant marine

total: 1 ship (1000 GRT or over) 3,354 GRT/480 DWT
by type: passenger/cargo 1
registered in other countries: 34 (Antigua and Barbuda 8, Bahamas 1, Belize 2, Faroe Islands 4, Gibraltar 1, Malta 4, Norway 4, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 10) (2006)

Ports and terminals

Grundartangi, Hafnarfjordur, Hornafjordhur, Reykjavik, Seydhisfjordhur

Military - Iceland:

Military branches

no regular military forces; Icelandic National Police (2006)

Manpower available for military service

males age 18-49: 69,038 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 18-49: 56,777 (2005 est.)

Military note

under a 1951 bilateral agreement, Icelands defense was provided by a US-manned Icelandic Defense Force (IDF) headquartered in Keflavik; in October 2006, all US military forces in Iceland were withdrawn; nonetheless, the US and Iceland signed a Joint Understanding to strengthen their bilateral defense relationship, including regular security consultations, military communications in the event of national emergencies, annual bilateral exercises on Icelandic territory, and future bilateral and NATO support to four Iceland Air Defense System (IADS) radar sites

Military expenditures percent of gdp

0% (2005 est.)

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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