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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 103,000 square kilometres (slightly smaller than Kentucky) with 304,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Iceland

The terrain features mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields with 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 and damp, cool summers. Potential natural disasters 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

Iceland Flag Icon

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

SummaryContinent: Europe
Capital: Reykjavík
Size103,000 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 39,768 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than Kentucky
CurrencyName Krona, Currency Code:ISK
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).is
Telephone Country Prefix+354
Mobile Phone Connections349,000
Landline Phone Connections185,200

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 nameValueWorld Rank
Area103,000 (sq km)108

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population315,281 179
Population growth rate0.66 (%)143
Birth rate13.15 (births/1,000 population)151
Death rate7.07 (deaths/1,000 population)129
Net migration rate0.53 (migrant(s)/1,000 population)65
Maternal mortality rate5.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)176
Infant mortality rate3.17 (deaths/1,000 live births)217
Life expectancy at birth81.11 (years)19
Total fertility rate1.88 (children born/woman)142
Health expenditures9.40 (% of GDP)37
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.30 (%)86
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS1,000 143
HIV/AIDS - deaths100 135
Obesity - adult prevalence rate23.20 (%)76
Education expenditures7.80 (% of GDP)14
Unemployment, youth ages 15-2414.60 (%)88


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)13,040,000,000 147
GDP - real growth rate1.60 (%)143
GDP - per capita (PPP)39,900 28
Labor force180,800 174
Unemployment rate5.60 (%)53
Distribution of family income - Gini index28.00 123
Investment (gross fixed)14.50 (% of GDP)138
Taxes and other revenues40.00 (% of GDP)45
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-2.30 (% of GDP)88
Public debt118.90 (% of GDP)10
Inflation rate (consumer prices)5.30 (%)148
Central bank discount rate5.75 (%)63
Commercial bank prime lending rate7.70 (%)119
Stock of narrow money4,466,000,000 104
Stock of broad money12,570,000,000 98
Stock of domestic credit22,360,000,000 81
Market value of publicly traded shares1,996,000,000 98
Industrial production growth rate3.00 (%)91
Current account balance-700,000,000 105
Exports5,100,000,000 111
Imports4,699,000,000 131
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold9,095,000,000 76
Debt - external100,200,000,000 48


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production16,770,000,000 (kWh)79
Electricity - consumption15,980,000,000 (kWh)75
Electricity - installed generating capacity2,571,000 (kW)93
Electricity - from fossil fuels4.70 (% of total installed capacity)199
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants72.90 (% of total installed capacity)20
Electricity - from other renewable sources22.40 (% of total installed capacity)6
Refined petroleum products - consumption20,770 (bbl/day)128
Refined petroleum products - exports1,209 (bbl/day)106
Refined petroleum products - imports15,530 (bbl/day)118
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy3,357,000 (Mt)138


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use191,100 127
Telephones - mobile cellular344,100 172
Internet hosts369,969 56
Internet users301,600 129


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports99 57
Roadways12,869 (km)128
Merchant marine2 141

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

List of current world heritage sites

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 betwee ...