Where is Iceland located?

What countries border Iceland?

Iceland Weather

What is the current weather in Iceland?

Iceland Facts and Culture

What is Iceland famous for?

  • Cultural Attributes: Icelanders wait impatiently for the first sign of spring. Newspapers run front-page stories about the first sightings of the golden... More
  • Family: Icelandic people rate family as more important than either their social life, their possessions or their work. The Icelandic people... More
  • Personal Apperance: Icelanders like to wear clothes from the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Icelanders consider themselves very stylish people.... More
  • Recreation: Students partake in a range of sports, with handball and soccer being the two most popular. Horseback riding, chess, and... More
  • Food and Recipes: Fish is very popular as is broiled lundi or puffin, Whale blubber, whale steaks, and seal meat are available from... More
  • Visiting: On the weekend and especially on Friday nights young men and women go out on the town. Typically a group... More
  • Dating: Many Icelandic couples do not get married until they can afford their own house or apartment. Young couples in the... More

Iceland Facts

What is the capital of Iceland?

Capital Reykjavik
Government Type unitary parliamentary republic
Currency Euro (EUR)
Total Area 39,768 Square Miles
103,000 Square Kilometers
Location Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the United Kingdom
Language Icelandic, English, Nordic languages, German widely spoken
GDP - real growth rate 3.7%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $46,600.00 (USD)

Iceland Demographics

What is the population of Iceland?

Ethnic Groups homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norse and Celts 94%, population of foreign origin 6%
Languages Icelandic is part of the North Germanic branches of languages, and so is most closely related to Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Faroese

Icelandic is based on the Latin alphabet, with the addition of Þ, ð, æ, and the diacritics á, é, í, ó, ú and ö Icelandic developed into a distinct Scandinavian language around the 12th century.
Nationality Noun Icelander(s)
Population 350,734
Population Growth Rate 0.66%
Population in Major Urban Areas REYKJAVIK (capital) 206,000
Urban Population 93.700000

Iceland Government

What type of government does Iceland have?

Executive Branch chief of state: President Gudni Thorlacius JOHANNESSON (since 1 August 2016)

head of government: Prime Minister Katrin JAKOBSDOTTIR (since 30 November 2017)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president upon the recommendation of the prime minister

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 4-year term (no term limits); election last held on 27 June 2020 (next to be held on 1 June 2024); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition becomes prime minister

election results:

2020: Gudni Thorlacius JOHANNESSON reelected president; percent of vote - Gudni Thorlacius JOHANNESSON (independent) 92.2%, Gudmundur Franklin JONSSON (independent) 7.8%

2016: Gudni Thorlacius JOHANNESSON elected president; Gudni Thorlacius JOHANNESSON (independent) 39.1%, Halla TOMASDOTTIR (independent) 27.9%, Andri Snær MAGNASON (Democracy Movement) 14.3%, David ODDSSON (independent) 13.7%, other 5%
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Citizenship citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Iceland

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 3 to 7 years
National Holiday Independence Day, 17 June (1944)
Constitution history: several previous; latest ratified 16 June 1944, effective 17 June 1944 (at independence)

amendments: proposed by the Althingi; passage requires approval by the Althingi and by the next elected Althingi, and confirmation by the president of the republic; proposed amendments to Article 62 of the constitution – that the Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the state church of Iceland – also require passage by referendum; amended many times, last in 2013
Independence 1 December 1918 (became a sovereign state under the Danish Crown); 17 June 1944 (from Denmark; birthday of Jon SIGURDSSON, leader of Iceland's 19th Century independence movement)

Iceland Video

YouTube, Icelandair Unique Iceland

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Iceland Geography

What environmental issues does Iceland have?

Overview Iceland, the second largest island in Europe (39,706 square miles. Three-quarters of the country is a wilderness of deserts, lava fields, glaciers, and extinct volcanoes. This lunar landscape serve as a training ground for American astronauts preparing for the first moon landings. A distinct beauty is found here in the treeless landscape. The combination of crystal clear air and brilliant sunshine creates vistas that can only be described as breathtaking. This is big sky country, where rivers and waterfalls are abundant. In summer the inhabited coastal area is verdant, its pastures filled with sheep, horses, and cows. In the dark of winter, parts of the same area are windswept, sometimes snow-covered, forbidding, and often inaccessible.

Despite its location close to the Arctic Circle, Reykjavik's climate is similar to that of the northwestern U.S., although cooler and windier. The Gulf Stream helps keep the annual mean temperature at 40°F. Changes between summer and winter are not extreme. It is rarely very cold in winter or warm in summer. Winter temperatures below 20°F are unusual, as are summer temperatures above 60°F. The wind blows year round, however, and a wind chill factor between -15°F and 10°F is common in winter.

Cooler weather lasts from October through April. Snow may fall in Reykjavik as early as September and as late as June, but the normal season is between October or November and March or April. Even in midwinter, rain is as likely as snow. A large accumulation of snow is rare. Average annual rainfall is 31 inches in Reykjavik. During winter and spring, winds in the capital can reach hurricane force.

Iceland is so far north that the amount of daylight varies considerably throughout the year. An average daily gain of 6 minutes of daylight follows the winter solstice on December 21, and a daily loss of 6 minutes follows the summer solstice on June 21. December and January days have only about 4 hours of daylight; in February the days rapidly begin to lengthen; and by April they are as long as at midsummer in the U.S. From late May to late July, there is no darkness at all-20 hours of sun (or clouds) and 4 hours of twilight. Following this period of "white nights," the sun slowly retreats, and by October the days begin to shorten as rapidly as they lengthened in the spring.

Earthquakes are common in Iceland, but are rarely felt in Reykjavik. Volcanic activity is infrequent but rather spectacular when an eruption does occur. The underwater volcano that created the new island of Surtsey in the Westmann Islands off the south coast began erupting in November 1963 and remained active through mid-1967. In January 1973, a volcanic eruption on Heimaey Island in the Westmann Islands forced the evacuation of all 5,000 residents and destroyed more than 300 homes and buildings. In the Krafla area, near Lake Myvatn, an eruption took place in December 1975, lasting several days; this area subsequently has seen seven lesser eruptions, and further volcanic activity is expected there. The most famous of Iceland's volcanoes, Mt. Hekla, which had been expected to remain dormant for a 100 years or so after its spectacular 1947 eruption, produced eruptions in August 1980, April 1981, and January 1991. A volcano under the Glacier Vatnajokull erupted in November 1996, melting tons of ice and creating destructive flooding.

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
Terrain mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields; coast deeply indented by bays and fiords

Iceland Economy

How big is the Iceland economy?

Economic Overview 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 within the fields of 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 exports of merchandise and services. From 2010 to 2017, the number of tourists visiting Iceland increased by nearly 400%. Since 2010, tourism has become a 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 to 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 inflows of foreign currency, remain in place.
Industries fish processing; aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production, geothermal power; tourism
Currency Name and Code Euro (EUR)
Export Partners Germany 18.5%, UK 17.5%, Netherlands 11.4%, US 10.9%, Spain 5.2%, Denmark 4.6%, Portugal 4.3%, Norway 4.2%
Import Partners US 10.9%, Germany 10.7%, Denmark 8.5%, Norway 8%, UK 7.5%, Netherlands 6.1%, Sweden 5.9%

Iceland News and Current Events

What current events are happening in Iceland?
Source: Google News

Iceland Travel Information

What makes Iceland a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Iceland is an island located in the North Atlantic Ocean east of Greenland and immediately south of the Arctic Circle. Iceland is a highly developed country with a stable democracy. The country has a population of approximately 320,000 people and is about the size of Virginia.

The national language is Icelandic, but English is widely spoken throughout the country. Tourist facilities in Iceland are well developed and widely available.


Iceland has a low crime rate with rare instances of violent crime; however, common sense does apply. Do not put any bags containing valuables, such as your passport, down on the floor in bars or nightclubs. Do not leave your valuables in parked vehicles, even if the vehicle is locked. In addition, be aware that downtown Reykjavik can become disorderly in the late night to early morning hours on weekends as people are leaving bars and clubs.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Iceland you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. Iceland’s drunk-driving laws are very strict. Penalties for possessing, using or trafficking in illegal drugs in Iceland are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Iceland, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not at your destination. Some activities that might be legal in the country you visit are still illegal in the United States.

While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

IMPORTATION OF WHALE MEAT TO THE United States: All persons are barred from importing whale meat to the United States. Even though whale meat is sold throughout Iceland, the Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it illegal to bring back whale meat into the U.S. Any importation of whale meat to the U.S. will result in the seizure of the goods and possible criminal prosecution. Penalties include jail time and fines of up to $10,000.


Icelandic is part of the North Germanic branches of languages, and so is most closely related to Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Faroese

Icelandic is based on the Latin alphabet, with the addition of Þ, ð, æ, and the diacritics á, é, í, ó, ú and ö Icelandic developed into a distinct Scandinavian language around the 12th century.

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Medical care in Iceland is of high quality, but limited services are available outside of large urban areas. For emergency medical assistance anywhere in the country, dial 112. For non-emergency medical assistance in the Reykjavik metropolitan area dial 544-4114 during business hours. Outside of normal business hours, dial 1770. The nurse who answers will do one of three things: offer advice on how to handle the problem on your own, suggest that you come to an after-hours clinic, or send a physician to you for a house call. The Icelandic medical system does not offer coverage to people who do not live in Iceland. Nonresidents are expected to pay their own medical costs and you should be prepared to pay your bill in full before leaving the hospital or clinic.

Safety and Security

There have been no terrorist attacks and very few criminal attacks affecting U.S. citizens in Iceland. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Iceland’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of members of terrorist organizations entering/exiting the country with anonymity. You should remain vigilant about your personal security and exercise caution while traveling abroad.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

You must be at least 17 years old to drive in Iceland. You can use your U.S. driver’s license for stays of 90 days or less in Iceland. Be advised that you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

Less than one-third of Iceland’s total road network is paved (2,262 miles of paved road vs. 5,774 miles of gravel or dirt road). Most of the 900-mile ring road (Highway 1) that encircles the country is paved, but that highway sometimes closes in certain places for road repair. Many other roads outside the capital, especially those that run through the center of the country, are dirt or gravel tracks. Paved roads which end and change to gravel tracks are usually marked with a sign that says “Malbik endar” shortly before the pavement ends – most accidents occur in the first 50 meters of gravel track, when drivers who were traveling at high speeds fail to slow down for the gravel and end up skidding off the roads. Even paved roads tend to be narrow and lack a shoulder or margin. Most bridges are only one lane wide (marked with a sign “Einbreid bru”) so drivers must be alert to oncoming traffic. Extreme care should be taken when driving in rural areas during the winter (October through April), when daylight hours are limited and the weather and road conditions can change rapidly. Drivers should pay special attention to signs marking roads as impassable (the sign will usually say “Ofært”). If you drive on a road that the Icelandic authorities have marked as closed or impassable, and then become stuck, you may incur fines of up to $1500 for emergency assistance. Off-road driving is strictly prohibited in Iceland and can incur fines of up to $2000.

Many routes in the interior of the country are impassable until July due to muddy conditions caused by snowmelt. If you are driving in the interior of Iceland, you should consider traveling with a second vehicle. Always inform someone of your travel plans. For information on current road conditions throughout the country, please consult the Public Roads Administration (Vegagerdin) website or call 1777.

For recorded weather information in English, call the Icelandic Weather Office (Vedurstofa Islands): 522-6000 (during regular office hours) or 902-0600; press 1 for English (pay-per-minute service available 24 hours a day).

Icelandic law requires drivers to keep headlights on at all times. Talking on cell phones while driving is prohibited, except when using a hands-free system, and is subject to a fine of 5000 Icelandic Kronur (approximately 45 US Dollars). Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas and 30 km/h in residential areas. In rural areas, the speed limit depends on the type of road: on dirt and gravel roads, the speed limit is 80 km/h; on paved highways, thespeed limit is 90 km/h. It is illegal to turn right on a red light. At four-way intersections, the right of way goes to the driver on the right; in traffic circles, drivers in the inside lane have the right of way. Many intersections in the capital have cameras to catch traffic violators.

The use of seatbelts is mandatory in both the front and rear seats, and children under the age of six must be secured in a special car seat designed for their size and weight. Drivers are held responsible for any passenger under the age of 15 not wearing a seatbelt. No one shorter than 140 centimeters, lighter than 40 kilograms (or 88 pounds), or younger than 12 years of age is allowed to ride in a front seat equipped with an airbag.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is considered a serious offense in Iceland. The threshold blood alcohol test (BAT) level is very low. Drivers can be charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence) with a BAT as low as .05%. Drivers stopped under suspicion of DUI are usually given a "balloon" or Breathalyzer test. If the test is positive, a blood test is routinely administered. Under Icelandic law, a blood test cannot be refused and will be administered by force if necessary. The minimum punishment for a first offense is a fine of 70,000 Icelandic Kronur (approximately 625 US Dollars) and the loss of driving privileges for two months.

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