ICELAND

Date of Establishment: June 17, 1944

Brief history:

9th century: First settlement of Iceland by Norwegian Viking settlers.

930: Establishment of the Althing, the world’s first parliamentary institution.

1000: The adoption of Christianity.

1262: Union with Norway, while retaining a degree of autonomy.

17th century: Iceland comes under Danish rule and faces difficult economic conditions.

19th century: National awakening and efforts to create an independent state.

1918: Iceland gains limited independence as a part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

1944: Declaration of an independent state and establishment of the republic.

20th century: Iceland becomes a modern democratic society, with the development of industry, tourism, and agriculture.

2008: Iceland experiences a severe economic crisis due to the collapse of its banking system.

 

International Abbreviation: IS

 

Currency: Icelandic króna (ISK)

The króna is divided into 100 aurar, but due to inflation and limited use of coins, the aurar are no longer used. The denominations of banknotes are 500, 1 000, 2 000, 5 000, and 10 000 krónur. There are coins for 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 krónur.

 

Internet domain: .is

 

Dialing code: +354

 

Time zone: GMT-1

 

Geography:

Iceland is an island country located in the North Atlantic, situated between Greenland and Norway, approximately 300 km (186 miles) east of Greenland and 1 000 km (621 miles) west of Norway. It is the largest island in Europe and the 18th largest in the world.

Iceland is predominantly mountainous, with numerous volcanic and geothermal activities. The country is also rich in glaciers, with the largest one, Vatnajökull, located in the southeast.

There are many lakes, rivers, and waterfalls in Iceland, including the famous Gullfoss.

 

Highest Peak: Hvannadalshnjúkur – 2 110 m (6 920 ft) above sea level

The highest peak in Iceland is Hvannadalshnjúkur, located in the Öræfajökull range in the southeast of the country. It is not only the highest mountain in Iceland but also in the entire North Atlantic.

Hvannadalshnjúkur is situated in the Vatnajökull National Park, which is also home to the largest glacier in Europe, bearing the same name. Climbing Hvannadalshnjúkur requires a guide, and it is a significant destination for mountaineers from around the world.

 

Climate:

Iceland is very cool and humid due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle. The climate is influenced by the Gulf Stream, which brings milder temperatures compared to other areas at the same latitude.

Summer temperatures average between 10-13°C (50-55°F), with maximum temperatures reaching around 20-25°C (68-77°F) in the warmest months. Winters are mild, with average temperatures ranging from -1 to -5°C (30-23°F). In some areas, temperatures can be much lower, especially in the mountains and the eastern coast.

Iceland experiences high humidity, and average precipitation is around 1 500 mm (60 inches) per year, with the highest rainfall in mountainous areas and the southern coast. The northern and inland regions are drier, but there can still be many rainy days throughout the year.

Another characteristic feature of Iceland’s climate is the very short winter days and long summer days. During polar nights in winter, some places in Iceland experience almost 24 hours of darkness, while during polar days in summer, the sun is visible throughout the day and night.

 

Fauna and flora:

There are few wild animals, with only the arctic fox and a population of reindeer, which was introduced. Various bird species can be found, including common seagulls, puffins, Arctic terns, and river wrens. Occasionally, seals and whales can be spotted along the coast, as they migrate from the North Atlantic.

Iceland’s flora is very sparse, with mosses, lichens, and grasses being dominant. Sparse forests, mainly consisting of birch, poplar, and willow, can be found in lower areas. Large areas of peatlands, which are an important source of fuel for the local population, are also present in Iceland.

 

Agriculture:

Although some crops and livestock have been cultivated since the time of settlement, recently agriculture in Iceland has focused more on organic food production and sustainable farming.

The main agricultural crop in Iceland is potatoes, which are grown in warm geothermal areas. Sugar beets, barley, wheat, vegetables, and fruits are also cultivated, mostly using greenhouses. Sheep are an important part of agricultural production in Iceland, with their number exceeding the human population.

Fishing is another significant activity in Icelandic agriculture, particularly the fishing of cod, herring, and salmon. In recent years, the production of organic food and ecological farming has also been developing.

Agricultural production in Iceland is limited by natural conditions and limited resources, resulting in higher food prices. However, Iceland has high standards in terms of food safety and environmental protection, contributing to the high quality of exported products.

 

Natural resources extraction:

Resource extraction in Iceland is limited, but some minerals are mined and utilized for industrial purposes. The most important resource in Iceland is geothermal energy, which is used for heating and electricity production.

Additionally, quartz is mined for glass and ceramics, olivine for construction materials, and natural gases for electricity generation. Rhyolite, used in the production of stone wool, and granite, used as building stone, are also mined.

In recent years, mineral extraction in marine areas around Iceland, such as polymetallic sulfide ores containing metals like zinc, copper, and lead, has been developing.

 

Industry:

The most important sectors of industry in Iceland include food processing, engineering, and electrical manufacturing.

The food processing industry includes fish processing, meat, and dairy products, with an emphasis on organic and traditional production. Aluminum production is another significant industrial sector, utilizing geothermal energy and natural gases.

Engineering and electrical manufacturing are also important sectors of industry in Iceland, producing various machinery and electrical products, including geothermal and wind power plants. Chemical products, explosives, and cosmetics are also manufactured.

Iceland has a well-developed tourism industry, focusing on environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism. The tourism industry provides many job opportunities and contributes to the country’s economic development.

 

Services and other economic sectors: tourism, banking, information technology, maritime and air transport, science, research, and education.

 

Natural and historical attractions:

Iceland is renowned for its natural beauty, including volcanic peaks, geysers, glaciers, beautiful beaches, and its rich cultural heritage.

Some of the most visited places in Iceland include the capital city of Reykjavík, Vatnajökull National Park, the Blue Lagoon, Geysir and Gullfoss, Skógafoss, Þingvellir National Park, and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Iceland’s tourism industry focuses primarily on environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism, aiming to minimize the impact on nature and support the local culture and economy. Additionally, the tourist infrastructure in Iceland is well-developed, offering many opportunities for various activities, such as guided tours, horseback riding, hiking, cycling, and more.

 

 

Form of government: parliamentary republic

Iceland is a parliamentary republic with a democratic system. The main legislative body of the country is the Althingi, which is unicameral. The house of representatives has 63 members elected for a four-year term.

Executive power is held by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president. The president has limited powers, and their role is mostly ceremonial, and they can serve for a maximum of two four-year terms.

Iceland is divided into 8 regions, which are further composed of 23 municipalities. Each municipality has its own representative body that represents the local population and governs municipal affairs.

Judicial power in Iceland is independent and is ensured by the supreme court, lower courts, and special courts for specific areas, such as the labor court.

The Icelandic state system is characterized by its openness and transparency, and Iceland is also known for its high level of political stability and low level of corruption.

 

Capital city: Reykjavík

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland, located on the western coast of the country along Faxaflói Bay. The city has approximately 140 000 inhabitants.

Reykjavík is home to many tourist attractions, such as the National Museum of Iceland, the Cathedral of Christ the King, Tjörnin – the central lake of the city, Harpa – a modern concert hall, botanical garden, and many more. However, the city is primarily known for its significant cultural institutions, including the National Library, the Icelandic Theatre, Reykjavík Art Museum, and many others.

Reykjavík is also an important economic center, housing numerous major industrial and financial companies. The city has well-developed infrastructure and offers many opportunities for entertainment, shopping, and dining, including a variety of bars, restaurants, and shops.

Reykjavík is also home to several universities and higher education institutions, such as the University of Iceland, Reykjavik University, and Iceland University of the Arts, making it a significant center for education and research.

 

Area: 103 592 km2 (39 997 square miles)

 

Population: 373 000 (2022 estimate)

Approximately two-thirds of the population live in the capital city of Reykjavík and its surrounding area.

The majority of the population has Icelandic origins and speaks the traditional Icelandic language. Icelandic culture is strongly influenced by Nordic traditions, and the country’s culture is characterized by the importance of nature and traditions.

Icelanders are generally highly educated and literate, and Iceland has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Icelanders also enjoy a high standard of living and are among the wealthiest nations in the world.

In addition to the domestic population, Iceland also has a relatively high number of immigrants, particularly from European Union countries, as well as from Asia and America. Icelanders are generally open and tolerant towards different cultures and nationalities, contributing to their reputation as a friendly and welcoming nation.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 3

 

  1. Þingvellir National Park (2004) – Located in central Iceland, it is known for its historical and geological significance. Þingvellir was once the site of the Icelandic parliament, Althingi, and it is also the meeting point of two tectonic plates.
  2. Surtsey Island (2008) – A unique geological site formed as a result of volcanic eruptions between 1963 and 1967. The eruptions created a new island, which was named Surtsey after a Norse mythological giant.
  3. Vatnajökull Glacier (2019) – This glacier is located in the southeastern part of Iceland and is the largest in Europe. The glacier is characterized by its magnificent ice caves and glacier lagoons, which are popular tourist destinations.

 

National parks: 3

 

  1. Vatnajökull National Park
  2. Snæfellsjökull National Park
  3. Þingvellir National Park