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Flag of Iceland

Country Profile

Capital City: Reykjavik
The Municipality of Reykjavik (pop. 112,000).

Other Cities: Kopavogur (24,950), Hafnarfjordur (20,675), Akureyri (15,840).

Local Time: UTC +0h

Location: Iceland is a volcanic island in the North Atlantic Ocean east of Greenland and immediately south of the Arctic Circle.
Area: 103,000 sq. km. (39,600 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Ireland.
Terrain: Rugged.
Highest elevation: Hvannadalshnjukur at Vatnajokull Glacier, at 2,119 meters (6,952 ft.).

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

Type: Semi-presidential, parliamentary.
Independence: 1918 (became "sovereign state" under Danish Crown); 1944 (establishment of republic).

Nationality: Noun--Icelander(s). Adjective--Icelandic.
Population (2003): 280,000.
Ethnic group: Relatively homogenous mixture of descendants of Norwegians and Celts.
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran, 87%.
Language: Icelandic.
Literacy: 99.9%.


Currency: Iceland Krona (ISK)

Natural resources: Marine products, hydroelectric and geothermal power, diatomite. Agriculture products: Potatoes, green vegetables, mutton, dairy products, fish.

Industries: Fish processing; aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production, geothermal power; tourism.

Exports partners:
Germany 17.4%, UK 17.4%, Netherlands 11.2%, USA 9.8%, Spain 6.3%, Denmark 5%, Norway 4.5%, France 4% (2003)

Imports partners: Germany 11.8%, Denmark 8%, USA 7.5%, UK 7.5%, Norway 7%, Sweden 6.5%, Netherlands 6.2%, Italy 4.7% (2003)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Iceland



Government Offices of Iceland


Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations

Embassy of Iceland

Statistics Iceland

Vedurstofa Íslands

Map of Iceland



Background:  Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish)
immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the
world's 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 island's 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.

Geography Iceland

Location:  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

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

Area - comparative:  slightly smaller than Kentucky

Land boundaries:  0 km

Coastline:  4,988 km

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

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

Terrain:  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 2,119 m

Natural resources:  fish, hydropower, geothermal power, diatomite

Land use:  arable land: NEGL permanent crops: 0% other: 100% (23%
permanent pastures) (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  NA sq km

Natural hazards:  earthquakes and volcanic activity

Environment - current issues:  water pollution from fertilizer runoff;
inadequate wastewater treatment

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Air Pollution,
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species,
Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone
Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified:
Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, 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

Population:  279,384 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 23% (male 33,189; female 31,155) 15-64 years:
65.1% (male 91,704; female 90,199) 65 years and over: 11.9% (male 14,828;
female 18,309) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  0.52% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  14.37 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  6.93 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  -2.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.07
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.81 male(s)/female total population: 1 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  3.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   82.07 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  1.99 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.14% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  200 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  less than 100 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  noun: Icelander(s) adjective: Icelandic

Ethnic groups:  homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norse and Celts

Religions:  Evangelical Lutheran 93%, other Protestant and Roman Catholic,
none (1997)

Languages:  Icelandic

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 99.9% (1997 est.)  male: NA% female: NA%

Government Iceland

Country name:   Republic of Iceland conventional short form: Government
type:  constitutional republic

Capital:  Reykjavik

Administrative divisions:  23 counties (syslar, singular - sysla)
and 14 independent towns* (kaupstadhir, singular - kaupstadhur);
Akranes*, Akureyri*, Arnessysla, Austur-Bardhastrandarsysla,
Austur-Hunavatnssysla, Austur-Skaftafellssysla, Borgarfjardharsysla,
Dalasysla, Eyjafjardharsysla, Gullbringusysla, Hafnarfjordhur*,
Husavik*, Isafjordhur*, Keflavik*, Kjosarsysla, Kopavogur*, Myrasysla,
Neskaupstadhur*, Nordhur-Isafjardharsysla, Nordhur-Mulasys-la,
Nordhur-Thingeyjarsysla, Olafsfjordhur*, Rangarvallasysla, Reykjavik*,
Saudharkrokur*, Seydhisfjordhur*, Siglufjordhur*, Skagafjardharsysla,
Snaefellsnes-og Hnappadalssysla, Strandasysla, Sudhur-Mulasysla,
Sudhur-Thingeyjarsysla, Vesttmannaeyjar*, Vestur-Bardhastrandarsysla,
Vestur-Hunavatnssysla, Vestur-Isafjardharsysla, Vestur-Skaftafellssysla
note: there may be four other counties

Independence:  17 June 1944 (from Denmark)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 17 June (1944)

Constitution:  16 June 1944, effective 17 June 1944

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

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON
(since 1 August 1996) head of government: Prime Minister David ODDSSON
(since 30 April 1991) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
and approved by Parliament election results: Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON
ran unopposed in 2000 and was reelected elections: president elected
by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 29 June 1996
(next to be held NA June 2004); President GRIMSSON ran unopposed in June
2000 so there were no elections; prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative branch:  unicameral Parliament or Althing (63 seats; members
are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) election results:
percent of vote by party - Independence Party 40.7%, The Alliance (PA,
People's Party, Women's List) 26.8%, Progressive Party 18.4%, Left-Green
Alliance 9.1%, Liberal Party 4.2%; seats by party - Independence Party 26,
The Alliance 17, Progressive Party 12, Left-Green Alliance 6, Liberal
Party 2 elections: Judicial branch:  Supreme Court or Haestirettur
(justices are appointed for life by the president)

Political parties and leaders:  Independence Party (conservative) or IP
[David ODDSSON]; Left-Green Alliance [Steingrimur SIGFUSSON]; Liberal
Party [Sverrir HERMANNSSON]; People's Party (Social Democratic Party)
or SDP [Sighvatur BJORGVINSSON]; Progressive Party (liberal) or PP
[Halldor ASGRIMSSON]; The Alliance (includes People's Alliance or PA,
Social Democratic Party or SVP, People's Movement, Women's List) [Ossur

Political pressure groups and leaders:  NA

International organization participation:  Australia Group, BIS, CBSS,
IDA, IEA (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol,

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Jon-Baldvin HANNIBALSSON chancery: Suite 1200, 1156 15th Street NW,
Washington, DC 20005-1704 consulate(s) general: Diplomatic representation
from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador Barbara J. GRIFFITHS embassy:
Laufasvegur 21, 101 Reykjavik mailing address: US Embassy, PSC 1003,
Box 40, FPO AE 09728-0340 telephone: [354] 5629100 FAX: [354] 5629123

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:  Iceland's Scandinavian-type economy is basically
capitalistic, yet with an extensive welfare system, low unemployment, and
remarkably even distribution of income. In the absence of other natural
resources (except for abundant hydrothermal and geothermal power),
the economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, providing 70%
of export earnings and employing 12% of the work force. The economy
remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to drops in
world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum,
and ferrosilicon. The center-right government plans to continue its
policies of reducing the budget and current account deficits, limiting
foreign borrowing, containing inflation, revising agricultural and
fishing policies, diversifying the economy, and privatizing state-owned
industries. The government remains opposed to EU membership, primarily
because of Icelanders' concern about losing control over their fishing
resources.  Iceland's 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. Growth has been remarkably steady over the past five
years at 4%-5%.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $6.85 billion (2000 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  4.3% (2000 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $24,800 (2000 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 15% (includes fishing 13%)
industry: 21% services: 64% (1999 est.)

Population below poverty line:  NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  3.5% (2000 est.)

Labor force:  159,000 (2000)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 5.1%, fishing and fish
processing 11.8%, manufacturing 12.9%, construction 10.7%, other services
59.5% (1999)

Unemployment rate:  1% (April 2001 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $3.5 billion expenditures: $3.3 billion, including
capital expenditures of $467 million (1999)

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

Industrial production growth rate:  1.5% (2000 est.)

Electricity - production:  7.549 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 0.05% hydro: 83.3%
other: 16.65% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  7.02 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  potatoes, turnips; cattle, sheep; fish

Exports:  $2 billion (f.o.b., 2000)

Exports - commodities:  fish and fish products 70%, animal products,
aluminum, diatomite, ferrosilicon

Exports - partners:  EU 64% (UK 20%, Germany 13%, France 5%, Denmark 5%),
US 15%, Japan 5% (1999)

Imports:  $2.2 billion (f.o.b., 2000)

Imports - commodities:  machinery and equipment, petroleum products;
foodstuffs, textiles

Imports - partners:  EU 56% (Germany 12%, UK 9%, Denmark 8%, Sweden 6%),
US 11%, Norway 10% (1999)

Debt - external:  $2.6 billion (1999)

Economic aid - donor:  $NA

Currency:  Icelandic krona (ISK)

Currency code:  ISK

Exchange rates:  Icelandic kronur per US dollar - 102.430 (January 2002),
97.425 (2001), 78.616 (2000), 72.335 (1999), 70.958 (1998), 70.904 (1997)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Iceland

Telephones - main lines in use:  168,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  65,746 (1997)

Telephone system:  general assessment: adequate domestic service domestic:
the trunk network consists of coaxial and fiber-optic cables and microwave
radio relay links international: 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)

Radios:  260,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  14 (plus 156 low-power repeaters) (1997)

Televisions:  98,000 (1997)

Internet country code:  .is

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  7 (2000)

Internet users:  168,000 (2001)

Transportation Iceland

Railways:  0 km

Highways:  total: 12,691 km paved: 3,262 km unpaved: 9,429 km (1999)

Waterways:  none

Ports and harbors:  Akureyri, Hornafjordhur, Isafjordhur, Keflavik,
Raufarhofn, Reykjavik, Seydhisfjordhur, Straumsvik, Vesttmannaeyjar

Merchant marine:  total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,816
GRT/2,500 DWT ships by type: chemical tanker 1 (2002 est.)

Airports:  86 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 13 over 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437
m: 4 914 to 1,523 m: 8 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 73 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 914 to
1,523 m: 21 under 914 m: 49 (2001)

Military Iceland

Military branches:  no regular armed forces; Police, Coast Guard

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 71,142 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 62,556
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $0

Military - note:  defense is provided by the US-manned Icelandic Defense
Force (IDF) headquartered at Keflavik

Transnational Issues Iceland

Disputes - international:  Rockall continental shelf dispute involving
Denmark, Iceland, and the UK (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary
agreement in the Rockall area); dispute with Denmark over the Faroe
Islands' fisheries median line boundary within 200 NM; disputes with
Denmark, the UK, and Ireland over the Faroe Islands continental shelf
boundary outside 200 NM

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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