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CIA WFB Seal.png Iceland Flag of Iceland (WFB 2004).gif
CIA Factbook map of Iceland.png
 
Introduction 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: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
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 (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, 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: 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: 293,966 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.5% (male 33,522; female 32,489)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 98,091; female 95,450)
65 years and over: 11.7% (male 15,552; female 18,862) (2004 est.)
Median age: total: 33.8 years
male: 33.3 years
female: 34.3 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.97% (2004 est.)
Birth rate: 13.83 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 6.57 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 3.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 3.44 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.18 years
male: 78.18 years
female: 82.27 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.93 children born/woman (2004 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: Evangelical Lutheran 87.1%, other Protestant 4.1%, Roman Catholic 1.7%, other 7.1% (2002)
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
 
Government Iceland
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Iceland
conventional short form: Iceland
local short form: Island
local long form: Lydhveldidh 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
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); prime minister appointed by the president
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 [Ossur SKARPHEDINSSON]
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
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Helgi AGUSTSSON
consulate(s) general: New York
FAX: [1] (202) 265-6656
telephone: [1] (202) 265-6653
chancery: Suite 1200, 1156 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005-1704
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador James I. GADSDEN
embassy: Laufasvegur 21, 101 Reykjavik
mailing address: US Embassy, PSC 1003, Box 40, FPO AE 09728-0340
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 70% of export earnings and employs 12% 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 inflation dropped back from 5% to 2%.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $8.678 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.6% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $30,900 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 9.2% (includes fishing 12%)
industry: 26.7%
services: 64.2% (2003 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 21.6% of GDP (2003)
Population below poverty line: NA
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.1% (2003 est.)
Labor force: 160,000 (2003)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 5.1%, fishing and fish processing 11.8%, manufacturing 12.9%, construction 10.7%, services 59.5% (1999)
Unemployment rate: 3.4% (2003 est.)
Budget: revenues: $4.205 billion
expenditures: $4.405 billion, including capital expenditures of $467 million (2003)
Public debt: 41.5% of GDP (2003)
Agriculture - products: potatoes, green vegetables, mutton, dairy products, fish
Industries: fish processing; aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production, geothermal power; tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 8.1% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production: 7.894 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 7.341 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2001)
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: $-574 million (2003)
Exports: $2.379 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities: fish and fish products 70%, animal products, aluminum, diatomite, ferrosilicon
Exports - partners: Germany 17.4%, UK 17.4%, Netherlands 11.2%, US 9.8%, Spain 6.3%, Denmark 5%, Norway 4.5%, France 4% (2003)
Imports: $2.59 billion (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, petroleum products; foodstuffs, textiles
Imports - partners: Germany 11.8%, Denmark 8%, US 7.5%, UK 7.5%, Norway 7%, Sweden 6.5%, Netherlands 6.2%, Italy 4.7% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold: $818.7 million (2003)
Debt - external: $2.6 billion (1999)
Economic aid - donor: NA
Currency: Icelandic krona (ISK)
Currency code: ISK
Exchange rates: Icelandic kronur per US dollar - 76.709 (2003), 91.6617 (2002), 97.4246 (2001), 78.6159 (2000), 72.3353 (1999)
Fiscal year: calendar year
 
Communications Iceland
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)
 
Transportation Iceland
Highways: total: 12,955 km
paved/oiled gravel: 3,863 km
unpaved: 9,092 km (2003)
Ports and harbors: Akureyri, Hornafjordhur, Isafjordhur, Keflavik, Raufarhofn, Reykjavik, Seydhisfjordhur, Straumsvik, Vesttmannaeyjar
Merchant marine: total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 4,341 GRT/6,019 DWT
registered in other countries: 26 (2004 est.)
by type: petroleum tanker 1
Airports: 100 (2003 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.)
 
Military Iceland
Military branches: no regular armed forces; Police, Coast Guard
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 75,568 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 66,503 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: 0
Military - note: defense is provided by the US-manned Icelandic Defense Force (IDF) headquartered at Keflavik
This page was last updated on 1 January 2003



This is a snapshot of the CIA World Fact Book as it existed on 26 March 2005