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Antarctic Circle
By Referrals > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Iceland
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Map of Iceland
IntroductionTop
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.
GeographyTop
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
land: 100,250 sq km
water: 2,750 sq km

Area - comparative:slightly smaller than Kentucky
Land boundaries:0 km
Coastline:4,988 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

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 (at Vatnajokull glacier)

Natural resources:fish, hydropower, geothermal power, diatomite
Land use:arable land: 0.07%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 99.93% (2001)

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, 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
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
PeopleTop
Population:296,737 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 22.1% (male 33,302/female 32,257)
15-64 years: 66.2% (male 99,513/female 96,886)
65 years and over: 11.7% (male 15,723/female 19,056) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 34 years
male: 33.53 years
female: 34.49 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:0.91% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:13.73 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:6.68 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:2.06 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 3.31 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.45 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 80.19 years
male: 78.13 years
female: 82.34 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:1.92 children born/woman (2005 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.)
Nationality:noun: Icelander(s)
adjective: Icelandic

Ethnic groups:homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norse and Celts 94%, population of foreign origin 6%
Religions: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)
Languages:Icelandic, English, Nordic languages, German widely spoken
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.9% (1997 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%

GovernmentTop
Country name:conventional long form: Republic of Iceland
conventional short form: Iceland
local long form: Lydhveldidh Island
local short form: Island

Government type:constitutional republic
Capital:Reykjavik
Administrative divisions:8 regions; Austurland, Hofudhborgarsvaedhi, Nordhurland Eystra, Nordhurland Vestra, Sudhurland, Sudhurnes, Vestfirdhir, Vesturland
Independence:1 December 1918 (became a sovereign state under the Danish Crown); 17 June 1944 (from Denmark)
National holiday:Independence Day, 17 June (1944)
Constitution: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
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON (since 1 August 1996)
head of government: Prime Minister Halldor ASGRIMSSON (since 15 September 2004); note - Former Prime Minister David ODDSSON switched positions with former Foreign Minister Halldor ASGRIMMSON
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister and approved by parliament
elections: president, which is largely a ceremonial post, elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 26 June 2004 (next to be held 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 wins with 85.6% of the vote, 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 10 May 2003 (next to be held by May 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - Independence Party 33.7%, Social Democratic Alliance 31.0%, Progressive Party 17.7%, Left-Green Alliance 8.8%, Liberal Party 7.4%; seats by party - Independence Party 22, Social Democratic Alliance 20, Progressive Party 12, Left-Green Alliance 5, 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 [David ODDSSON]; Left-Green Alliance or LGP [Steingrimur SIGFUSSON]; Liberal Party or LP [Gudjon KRISTJANSSON]; Progressive Party or PP [Halldor ASGRIMSSON]; Social Democratic Alliance (includes People's Alliance or PA, Social Democratic Party or SDP, Women's List) or SDA [Ingibjorg Solrun GISLADOTTIR]
Political pressure groups and leaders:NA
International organization participation:Australia Group, BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EFTA, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, MIGA, NATO, NC, NEA, NIB, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WCO, WEU (associate), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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)
EconomyTop
Economy - overview:Iceland's 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 70% of export earnings and employs 8% 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 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 had been remarkably steady in 1996-2001 at 3%-5%, but could not be sustained in 2002 in an environment of global recession. Growth resumed in 2003, and estimates call for strong growth until 2007, slowly dropping until the end of the decade.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $9.373 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:1.8% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $31,900 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 11.2%
industry: 9.6%
services: 79.2% (2004 est.)

Labor force:158,100 (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture, fishing and fish processing 10.3%, industry 18.3%, services 71.4% (2003)
Unemployment rate:3.1% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):4% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):23.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:revenues: $4.154 billion
expenditures: $4.058 billion, including capital expenditures of $467 million (2004 est.)

Public debt:35.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:potatoes, green vegetables, mutton, dairy products, fish
Industries:fish processing; aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production, geothermal power; tourism
Industrial production growth rate:8.8% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:8.271 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 0.1%
hydro: 82.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 17.5% (geothermal) (2001)

Electricity - consumption:7.692 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:16,300 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:0 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:15,470 bbl/day (2001)
Current account balance:$-570 million (2004 est.)
Exports:$2.902 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:fish and fish products 70%, aluminum, animal products, ferrosilicon, diatomite
Exports - partners:UK 19.1%, Germany 17.1%, Netherlands 11%, US 10.2%, Spain 6.9%, Denmark 4.6% (2004)
Imports:$3.307 billion (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:machinery and equipment, petroleum products; foodstuffs, textiles
Imports - partners:Germany 12.3%, US 10%, Norway 9.8%, Denmark 7.6%, UK 6.9%, Sweden 6.4%, Netherlands 5.7% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$935 million (2004)
Debt - external:$3.073 billion (2002)
Economic aid - donor:$NA
Currency (code):Icelandic krona (ISK)
Currency code:ISK
Exchange rates:Icelandic kronur per US dollar - 70.192 (2004), 76.709 (2003), 91.662 (2002), 97.425 (2001), 78.616 (2000)
Fiscal year:calendar year
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:190,700 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:279,100 (2003)
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)
Radios:260,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:14 (plus 156 low-power repeaters) (1997)
Televisions:98,000 (1997)
Internet country code:.is
Internet hosts:122,175 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):20 (2001)
Internet users:195,000 (2003)
TransportationTop
Highways:total: 13,004 km
paved/oiled gravel: 4,331 km
unpaved: 8,673 km (2004)

Ports and harbors:Grundartangi, Hafnarfjordur, Hornafjordhur, Reykjavik, Seydhisfjordhur
Merchant marine:total: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 4,341 GRT/6,019 DWT
by type: cargo 2, passenger/cargo 1
registered in other countries: 30 (2005)

Airports:98 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:total: 93
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 29
under 914 m: 61 (2004 est.)

MilitaryTop
Military branches:no regular armed forces; Icelandic National Police, Icelandic Coast Guard (Islenska Landhelgisgaeslan)
Military manpower - availability:males age 18-49: 69,038 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 18-49: 56,777 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:0
Military note:defense is provided by the US-manned Icelandic Defense Force (IDF) headquartered at Keflavik
Transnational IssuesTop
Disputes - international:Iceland disputes Denmark's alignment of the Faroe Islands' fisheries median line; Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm



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