Iceland (GPS: 65 00 N, 18 00 W) is located in Northern Europe, an island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the United Kingdom. The country’s area measurements are total: 103,000 sq km; land: 100,250 sq km, water: 2,750 sq km. This sovereign state is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania, about the same size like Kentucky. The total irrigated land is N/A.
One of the important features of Iceland: Strategic location between Greenland and Europe. Westernmost European country. Reykjavik is the northernmost national capital in the world. Glaciers cover more land than in all of continental Europe.
It’s significant, and at the same time, the principal city, Reykjavik’s GPS coordinates are 64 09 N 21 57 W. Reykjavik’s local time is 5 hours ahead of Washington DC during Standard Time. The capital’s time difference: UTC 0.
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 Althingi, established in 930. Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. The 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. Denmark granted limited home rule in 1874 and complete independence in 1944.
The second half of the 20th century saw substantial economic growth driven primarily by the fishing industry. The economy diversified greatly after the country joined the European Economic Area in 1994, but the global financial crisis especially hit Iceland in the years following 2008. The economy is now on an upward trajectory, fueled primarily by a tourism and construction boom. Literacy, longevity, and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.
Iceland’s names conventional long form: the Republic of Iceland, conventional short form: Iceland, local long form: Lydveldid Island, local short form: Island, etymology: Floki VILGERDARSON, an early explorer of the island (9th century), applied the name “land of ice” after spotting a fjord full of drift ice to the north and spending a bitter winter on the island; he eventually settled on the island, however, after he saw how it greened up in the summer and that it was in fact habitable. Floki VILGERDARSON, an early explorer of the island (9th century), applied the name “Land of Ice” after spotting a fjord full of drift ice to the north and spending a bitter winter on the island; He eventually settled on the island; however, after he saw how it greened up in the summer and that it was, in fact, habitable.
Iceland’s terrain is typically plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields; coast deeply indented by bays and fiords. The country’s mean elevation: 557 m, elevation extremes; lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m, highest point: Hvannadalshnukur 2,110 m.
The country’s general climate is temperate: moderated by North Atlantic Current: mild, windy winters: damp, cool summers.
The total number of border countries is 0; none are the neighboring nations with the indicated border lengths. Iceland’s coastline is 4,970 km, while its marital claims are: territorial sea: 12 nautical miles, exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles, continental shelf: 200 nautical miles or to the edge of the continental margin. Waterways: N/A. Land use: agricultural land: 18.7%; arable land 1.2%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 17.5%; forest: 0.3%; other: 81% (2011 estimate).
The population in Iceland 343,518 (July 2018 estimate), urban population: 94.1% of total population (2015), major urban area’s population: REYKJAVIK (capital) 184,000 (2014), while Iceland has Iceland is almost entirely urban with half of the population located in and around the capital of Reykjavik; smaller agglomerations are primarily found along the coast in the north and west. Their spoken languages are Icelandic, English, Nordic languages, German widely spoken.
Main religions in Iceland are Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland (official) 73.8%, Roman Catholic 3.6%, Reykjavik Free Church 2.9%, Hafnarfjorour Free Church 2%, The Independent Congregation 1%, other religions 3.9% (includes Pentecostal and Asatru Association), none 5.6%, other or unspecified 7.2% (2015 estimate). The nation uses a civil law system influenced by the Danish model. It is a(n) parliamentary republic, National holiday(s) Independence Day, 17 June (1944).
Economic overview for the country: Iceland’s economy combines a capitalist structure and free-market principles with an extensive welfare system. Except for a brief period during the 2008 crisis, Iceland has in recent years achieved high growth, low unemployment, and a remarkably even distribution of income. Iceland’s economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the last decade, particularly in tourism, software production, and biotechnology. Abundant geothermal and hydropower sources have attracted substantial foreign investment in the aluminum sector, boosted economic growth, and sparked some interest from high-tech firms looking to establish data centers using cheap green energy.
Tourism, aluminum smelting, and fishing are the pillars of the economy. For decades the Icelandic economy depended heavily on fisheries, but tourism has now surpassed fishing and aluminum as Iceland’s main export industry. Tourism accounted for 8.6% of Iceland’s GDP in 2016 and 39% of total merchandise and services exports. From 2010 to 2017, the number of tourists visiting Iceland increased by nearly 400%. Since 2010, tourism has become the main driver of Icelandic economic growth, with the number of tourists reaching 4.5 times the Icelandic population in 2016. Iceland remains sensitive to fluctuations in world prices for its main exports and fluctuations in the exchange rate of the Icelandic Krona. Following the privatization of the banking sector in the early 2000s, domestic banks expanded aggressively in foreign markets, and consumers and businesses borrowed heavily in foreign currencies. Worsening global financial conditions throughout 2008 resulted in a sharp depreciation of the krona vis-a-vis other major currencies. The foreign exposure of Icelandic banks, whose loans and other assets totaled nearly nine times the country’s GDP, became unsustainable.
Iceland’s three largest banks collapsed in late 2008. GDP fell 6.8% in 2009, and unemployment peaked at 9.4% in February 2009. Three new banks were established to take over the domestic assets of the collapsed banks. Two of them have majority ownership by the state, which intends to re-privatize them. Since the collapse of Iceland’s financial sector, government economic priorities have included stabilizing the krona, implementing capital controls, reducing Iceland’s high budget deficit, containing inflation, addressing high household debt, restructuring the financial sector, and diversifying the economy. Capital controls were lifted in March 2017, but some financial protections, such as reserve requirements for specified investments connected to new foreign currency inflows, remain in place.
Natural resources of Iceland: fish, hydropower, geothermal power, diatomite.
Main export partners for Iceland, Arctic Region are the Netherlands 26.1%, UK 11.6%, Spain 11.5%, Germany 7.4%, France 5.7%, US 5.7%, Norway 4.7% (2015) for fish and fish products 40%, aluminum, animal products, ferrosilicon, diatomite (2010 estimate), while the main import partners for the country are: Norway 10.1%, Germany 8.6%, US 7.9%, China 7.9%, Denmark 7.1%, Netherlands 5.9%, Brazil 5.8%, UK 5% (2015) for machinery and equipment, petroleum products, foodstuffs, textiles.
When you visit this country in the Arctic Region, consider the natural hazards in Iceland: Earthquakes and volcanic activity. Iceland, situated on top of a hotspot, experiences severe volcanic activity. Eyjafjallajokull (elevation 1,666 m) erupted in 2010, sending ash high into the atmosphere and seriously disrupting European air traffic. Scientists continue to monitor nearby Katla (elevation 1,512 m), which has a high probability of an eruption very shortly, potentially disrupting air traffic. Grimsvoetn and Hekla are Iceland’s most active volcanoes. Other historically active volcanoes include Askja, Bardarbunga, Brennisteinsfjoll, Esjufjoll, Hengill, Krafla, Krisuvik, Kverkfjoll, Oraefajokull, Reykjanes, Torfajokull, and Vestmannaeyjar, while infectious diseases are N/A. Also, note that Iceland faces the following environmental issues: Water pollution from fertilizer runoff.
You may also be interested in the countries next to Iceland around its 0 km border – No border countries.