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Iceland Country Guide

Explore Iceland in Europe

Iceland with the capital city Reykjavík is located in Europe (Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean). It covers some 103,001 square kilometres (slightly smaller than Kentucky) with 304,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Iceland

The landscape offers mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields and coast deeply indented by bays and fiords. The average density of population is approximately 3 per km². The notable climate conditions in Iceland can be described as temperate with moderated by North Atlantic Current, mild, windy winters, damp, cool summers. Potential threats by nature are earthquakes and volcanic activity.

To reach someone in Iceland dial +354 prior to a number. There are 185,200 installed telephones. And there are 349,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900, 1800 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".is". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 220V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Iceland

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); the colors represent three of the elements that make up the island: red is for the island's volcanic fires, white recalls the snow and ice fields of the island, and blue is for the surrounding ocean.

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. 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 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.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Europe
Capital: Reykjavík
Size 103,000 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 39,769 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than Kentucky
Population 304,000
Currency Name: Krona, Currency Code: ISK
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .is
Telephone Country Prefix +354
Mobile Phone Connections 349,000
Landline Phone Connections 185,200

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 103,000 (sq km) 108

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 315,281 179
Population growth rate 0.66 (%) 143
Birth rate 13.15 (births/1,000 population) 151
Death rate 7.07 (deaths/1,000 population) 129
Net migration rate 0.53 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 65
Maternal mortality rate 5.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 176
Infant mortality rate 3.17 (deaths/1,000 live births) 217
Life expectancy at birth 81.11 (years) 19
Total fertility rate 1.88 (children born/woman) 142
Health expenditures 9.40 (% of GDP) 37
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.30 (%) 86
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 1,000 143
HIV/AIDS - deaths 100 135
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 23.20 (%) 76
Education expenditures 7.80 (% of GDP) 14
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 14.6 (%) 88


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 13,040,000,000 147
GDP - real growth rate 1.60 (%) 143
GDP - per capita (PPP) 39,900 28
Labor force 180,800 174
Unemployment rate 5.60 (%) 53
Distribution of family income - Gini index 28 123
Investment (gross fixed) 14.50 (% of GDP) 138
Taxes and other revenues 40.0 (% of GDP) 45
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -2.30 (% of GDP) 88
Public debt 118.90 (% of GDP) 10
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 5.30 (%) 148
Central bank discount rate 5.75 (%) 63
Commercial bank prime lending rate 7.70 (%) 119
Stock of narrow money 4,466,000,000 104
Stock of broad money 12,570,000,000 98
Stock of domestic credit 22,360,000,000 81
Market value of publicly traded shares 1,996,000,000 98
Industrial production growth rate 3.00 (%) 91
Current account balance -700,000,000 105
Exports 5,100,000,000 111
Imports 4,699,000,000 131
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 9,095,000,000 76
Debt - external 100,200,000,000 48


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 16,770,000,000 (kWh) 79
Electricity - consumption 15,980,000,000 (kWh) 75
Electricity - installed generating capacity 2571000 (kW) 93
Electricity - from fossil fuels 4.7 (% of total installed capacity) 199
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 72.9 (% of total installed capacity) 20
Electricity - from other renewable sources 22.4 (% of total installed capacity) 6
Refined petroleum products - consumption 20,770 (bbl/day) 128
Refined petroleum products - exports 1,209 (bbl/day) 106
Refined petroleum products - imports 15,530 (bbl/day) 118
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 3,357,000 (Mt) 138


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 191,100 127
Telephones - mobile cellular 344,100 172
Internet hosts 369,969 56
Internet users 301,600 129


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 99 57
Roadways 12,869 (km) 128
Merchant marine 2 141

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Surtsey, a volcanic island approximately 32 km from the south coast of Iceland, is a new island formed by volcanic eruptions that took place from 1963 to 1967. It is all the more outstanding for having been protected since its birth, providing the wo ...
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is the National Park where the Althing, an open-air assembly representing the whole of Iceland, was established in 930 and continued to meet until 1798. Over two weeks a year, the assembly set laws - seen as a covenant betw ...