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  Iceland  
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This page was last updated on 15 November, 2007


Map of Iceland



Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Iceland Top of Page
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 Top of Page
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:

4,970 km
Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
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 2,110 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:

NA
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 Top of Page
Population:

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.)
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%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
   Government    Iceland Top of Page
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
Capital:

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
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 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 People's Alliance or PA, Social Democratic Party or SDP, Women's List)
Political pressure groups and leaders:

NA
International organization participation:

Arctic Council, Australia Group, BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EFTA, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NC, NEA, NIB, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WCO, WEU (associate), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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 Top of Page
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 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. 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. 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; Iceland's 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: 5.6%
industry: 25%
services: 69.4% (2006 est.)
Labor force:

175,000 (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:

NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):

6.7% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):

32% of GDP (2006 est.)
Budget:

revenues: $7.603 billion
expenditures: $6.737 billion; including capital expenditures of $467 million (2006 est.)
Public debt:

31.5% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:

potatoes, green vegetables; mutton, dairy products; fish
Industries:

fish processing; aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production; geothermal power, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:

5% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:

8.533 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - consumption:

8.152 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2005)
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 (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2005 est.)
Current account balance:

-$4.456 billion (2006 est.)
Exports:

$3.477 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:

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

Netherlands 16.5%, UK 15.7%, Germany 15%, US 10.8%, Spain 6.4% (2006)
Imports:

$5.716 billion (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, petroleum products, foodstuffs, textiles
Imports - partners:

US 12.8%, Germany 12.3%, Norway 7.1%, Sweden 6.9%, Denmark 6.1%, UK 5.3%, China 5.3%, Netherlands 4.8%, Japan 4.1% (2006)
Economic aid - donor:

$6.7 million (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$2.342 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:

$3.073 billion (2002)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$NA
Market value of publicly traded shares:

$27.8 billion (2005)
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)
Fiscal year:

calendar year
   Communications    Iceland Top of Page
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:

.is
Internet hosts:

270,942 (2007)
Internet users:

194,000 (2006)
   Transportation    Iceland Top of Page
Airports:

99 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:

total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 94
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 28
under 914 m: 63 (2007)
Roadways:

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

total: 2 ships (1000 GRT or over) 4,704 GRT/729 DWT
by type: passenger/cargo 2
registered in other countries: 41 (Antigua and Barbuda 9, Bahamas 1, Belize 1, Faroe Islands 4, Gibraltar 1, Malta 7, Norway 3, St Vincent and The Grenadines 15) (2007)
Ports and terminals:

Grundartangi, Hafnarfjordur, Hornafjordhur, Reykjavik, Seydhisfjordhur
   Military    Iceland Top of Page
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 expenditures - percent of GDP:

0% (2005 est.)
Military - note:

under a 1951 bilateral agreement, Iceland's 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
   Transnational Issues    Iceland Top of Page
Disputes - international:

Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm

This page was last updated on 15 November, 2007


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