Country List | World Factbook Home
CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Iceland
Flag of Iceland
Map of Iceland
Introduction Iceland
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
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
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
299,388 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 21.7% (male 33,021/female 32,021)
15-64 years: 66.5% (male 100,944/female 98,239)
65 years and over: 11.7% (male 15,876/female 19,287) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 34.2 years
male: 33.8 years
female: 34.7 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.87% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
13.64 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
6.72 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
1.74 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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 (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 3.29 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.43 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 80.31 years
male: 78.23 years
female: 82.48 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.92 children born/woman (2006 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 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 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%, Progressive Party 17.7%, Left-Green Movement 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 [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 (includes People's Alliance or PA, Social Democratic Party or SDP, Women's List) or SDA [Ingibjorg Solrun GISLADOTTIR]
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:
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 60% 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 a -1% in 2002 to 8% in 2004.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$11.4 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$13.85 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.7% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$38,100 (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 - production by source:
fossil fuel: 0.1%
hydro: 82.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 17.5% (geothermal) (2001)
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 (2001)
Oil - imports:
15,470 bbl/day (2001)
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:
UK 17.9%, Germany 16.4%, Netherlands 13%, US 8.1%, Spain 7.7%, Denmark 4.3% (2005)
$5.189 billion (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, petroleum products, foodstuffs, textiles
Imports - partners:
Germany 13.4%, US 9.1%, Sweden 8.6%, Denmark 7.3%, Norway 7.2%, UK 5.9%, China 5.3%, Netherlands 5%, Japan 4.7% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.018 billion (August 2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$3.073 billion (2002)
Economic aid - donor:
$6.7 million (2004)
Currency (code):
Icelandic krona (ISK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Icelandic kronur per US dollar - 69.5108 (2006), 62.982 (2005), 70.192 (2004), 76.709 (2003), 91.662 (2002)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Iceland
Telephones - main lines in use:
193,900 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
304,000 (2005)
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)
260,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
14 (plus 156 low-power repeaters) (1997)
98,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
212,897 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
20 (2001)
Internet users:
258,000 (2005)
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 armed forces; Icelandic National Police, Icelandic Coast Guard (Islenska Landhelgisgaeslan) subordinate to Ministry of Justice, Icelandic Crisis Response Unit (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 - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
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
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

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007