Map Iceland
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of 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. 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 Iceland was especially hard hit by the global financial crisis in the years following 2008. Literacy, longevity, and social cohesion are first rate by world standards.
Location: Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the United Kingdom
Area land: 100,250 sq km
Area water: 2,750 sq km
Coastline: 4,970 km
Country name conventional long form: Republic of Iceland
Country name conventional short form: Iceland
Country name former: Republic of Iceland
Population: 311,058 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.2% (male 31,929/female 31,034); 15-64 years: 67.1% (male 105,541/female 103,202); 65 years and over: 12.7% (male 17,974/female 21,378) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.687% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 13.29 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 6.96 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female; total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 3.2 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 3.34 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 3.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.9 years; male: 78.72 years; female: 83.17 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.89 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: fewer than 1,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 100 (2009 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 80.7%, Roman Catholic Church 2.5%, Reykjavik Free Church 2.4%, Hafnarfjorour Free Church 1.6%, other religions 3.6%, unaffiliated 3%, other or unspecified 6.2% (2006 est.);
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.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $11.86 billion (2010 est.); $12.28 billion (2009 est.); $13.17 billion (2008 est.);

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $12.85 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: -3.4% (2010 est.); -6.8% (2009 est.); 1% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $36,700 (2010 est.); $37,900 (2009 est.); $40,600 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5.5%; industry: 24.7%; services: 69.9% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: NA%;
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 178,800 (2010);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 4.8%; industry: 22.2%; services: 73% (2008);
Unemployment rate: 8.3% (2010 est.); 8.6% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $4.81 billion; expenditures: $5.673 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: fish processing; aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production; geothermal power, hydropower, tourism;
Industrial production growth rate: -1% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 16.84 billion kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 16.48 billion kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);

Statistics: CIA World Factbook.



(Independent), Reykjavik

Iceland Review

(English-language weekly), Reykajavik


(Conservative), Reykjavik

Reykjavik Grapevine

(Alternative magazine), Reykjavik


(Online newspaper), Reykjavik

Iceland in the News

World's 10 Biggest Energy Gluttons

A look into which countries use the most energy per capita reveals some surprising results, from the Middle East to the Caribbean.

Weakening Economies Worldwide

Comment and analysis from Australia, United Kingdom, Iceland, Japan, France, China, Egypt, and Russia

Iceland: Once a Layover, Now a Destination

With Icelandic Airlines offering free layovers on flights between North American and European destinations ...

Will Fuel Cells Make Iceland the 'Kuwait of the North?'

Jón Knútur Ásmundsson reports on Iceland's pioneering research into the use of clean, efficient hydrogen power.