[Country map of Iceland]



Location: Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the UK

Map references: Arctic Region

total area: 103,000 sq km
land area: 100,250 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Kentucky

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 4,988 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark, Ireland, and the UK (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area)

Climate: temperate; moderated by North Atlantic Current; mild, windy winters; damp, cool summers

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

Natural resources: fish, hydropower, geothermal power, diatomite

Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 20%
forest and woodland: 1%
other: 78%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: water pollution from fertilizer runoff; inadequate wastewater treatment
natural hazards: earthquakes and volcanic activity
international agreements: party to - Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation

Note: strategic location between Greenland and Europe; westernmost European country; more land covered by glaciers than in all of continental Europe


Population: 265,998 (July 1995 est.)
note: population data estimates based on average growth rate may differ slightly from official population data because of volatile migration rates

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24% (female 31,482; male 32,912)
15-64 years: 65% (female 84,559; male 87,089)
65 years and over: 11% (female 16,554; male 13,402) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.92% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 15.85 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 6.7 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 4 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.98 years
male: 76.69 years
female: 81.39 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.06 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Icelander(s)
adjective: Icelandic

Ethnic divisions: homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norwegians and Celts

Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 96%, other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3%, none 1% (1988)

Languages: Icelandic

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1976 est.)
total population: 100%

Labor force: 127,900
by occupation: commerce, transportation, and services 60.0%, manufacturing 12.5%, fishing and fish processing 11.8%, construction 10.8%, agriculture 4.0% (1990)


conventional long form: Republic of Iceland
conventional short form: Iceland
local long form: Lyoveldio Island
local short form: Island

Digraph: IC

Type: republic

Capital: Reykjavik

Administrative divisions: 23 counties (syslar, singular - sysla) and 14 independent towns* (kaupstadhir, singular - kaupstadhur); Akranes*, Akureyri*, Arnessysla, Austur-Bardhastrandarsysla, Austur-Hunavatnssysla, Austur-Skaftafellssysla, Borgarfjardharsysla, Dalasysla, Eyjafjardharsysla, Gullbringusysla, Hafnarfjordhur*, Husavik*, Isafjordhur*, Keflavik*, Kjosarsysla, Kopavogur*, Myrasysla, Neskaupstadhur*, Nordhur-Isafjardharsysla, Nordhur-Mulasys-la, Nordhur-Thingeyjarsysla, Olafsfjordhur*, Rangarvallasysla, Reykjavik*, Saudharkrokur*, Seydhisfjordhur*, Siglufjordhur*, Skagafjardharsysla, Snaefellsnes-og Hnappadalssysla, Strandasysla, Sudhur-Mulasysla, Sudhur-Thingeyjarsysla, Vesttmannaeyjar*, Vestur-Bardhastrandarsysla, Vestur-Hunavatnssysla, Vestur-Isafjardharsysla, Vestur-Skaftafellssysla

Independence: 17 June 1944 (from Denmark)

National holiday: Anniversary of the Establishment of the Republic, 17 June (1944)

Constitution: 16 June 1944, effective 17 June 1944

Legal system: civil law system based on Danish law; does not accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Vigdis FINNBOGADOTTIR (since 1 August 1980); election last held on 29 June 1988 (next scheduled for June 1996); results - there was no election in 1992 as President Vigdis FINNBOGADOTTIR was unopposed
head of government: Prime Minister David ODDSSON (since 30 April 1991)
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: unicameral
Parliament (Althing): elections last held on 8 April 1995 (next to be held by April 1999); results - Independence Party 37.1%, Progressive Party 23.3%, Social Democratic Party 11.4%, Socialists 14.3%, People's Movement 7.2%, Women's Party 4.9%; seats - (63 total) Independence 25, Progressive 15, Social Democratic 7, Socialists 9, People's Movement 4, Women's Party 3

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Haestirettur)

Political parties and leaders: Independence Party (conservative), David ODDSSON; Progressive Party, Halldor ASGRIMSSON; Social Democratic Party, Jon Baldvin HANNIBALSSON; People's Alliance (left socialist), Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON; Women's Party; People's Movement (moderate left); National Awakening, Johanna SIGURDARDOTTIR


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Einar BENEDIKTSSON
chancery: Suite 1200, 1156 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 265-6653 through 6655
FAX: [1] (202) 265-6656
consulate(s) general: New York

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Parker W. BORG
embassy: Laufasvegur 21, Box 40, Reykjavik
mailing address: US Embassy, PSC 1003, Box 40, Reykjavik; FPO AE 09728-0340
telephone: [354] (1) 629100
FAX: [354] (1) 629139

Flag: blue with a red cross outlined in white that extends 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)


Overview: Iceland's Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic, but with an extensive welfare system, relatively low unemployment, and comparatively even distribution of income. The economy is heavily dependent on the fishing industry, which provides nearly 75% of export earnings and employs 12% of the work force. In the absence of other natural resources - except energy - Iceland's economy is vulnerable to changing world fish prices. The economy, in recession since 1988, began to recover in 1993, posting 0.4% growth, but was still hampered by cutbacks in fish quotas as well as falling world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. Real GDP grew by perhaps 2.4% in 1994. The center-right government plans to continue its policies of reducing the budget and current account deficits, limiting foreign borrowing, containing inflation, revising agricultural and fishing policies, diversifying the economy, and privatizing state-owned industries. The government, however, remains divided on the issue of EU membership, primarily because of Icelanders' concern about losing control over their fishing resources.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $4.5 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 2.4% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $17,250 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.3% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 7% (1994 est.)

revenues: $1.9 billion
expenditures: $2.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1994 est.)

Exports: $1.4 billion (f.o.b., 1993)
commodities: fish and fish products, animal products, aluminum, ferrosilicon, diatomite
partners: EC 68% (UK 25%, Germany 12%), US 11%, Japan 8% (1992)

Imports: $1.3 billion (c.i.f., 1993)
commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, foodstuffs, textiles
partners: EC 53% (Germany 14%, Denmark 10%, UK 9%), Norway 14%, US 9% (1992)

External debt: $2.5 billion (1993 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 1.75% (1991 est.)

capacity: 1,070,000 kW
production: 4.7 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 16,458 kWh (1993)

Industries: fish processing, aluminum smelting, ferro-silicon production, geothermal power

Agriculture: accounts for about 15% of GDP; fishing is most important economic activity, contributing nearly 75% to export earnings; principal crops - potatoes, turnips; livestock - cattle, sheep; fish catch of about 1.1 million metric tons in 1992

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-81), $19.1 million

Currency: 1 Icelandic krona (IKr) = 100 aurar

Exchange rates: Icelandic kronur (IKr) per US$1 - 67.760 (January 1995), 69.944 (1994), 67.603 (1993), 57.546 (1992), 58.996 (1991), 58.284 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 0 km

total: 11,373 km
paved: 2,513 km
unpaved: gravel, earth 8,860 km (1992)

Ports: Akureyri, Hornafjordur, Isafjordur, Keflavik, Raufarhofn, Reykjavik, Seydhisfjordhur, Straumsvik, Vestmannaeyjar

Merchant marine:
total: 6 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 30,025 GRT/40,410 DWT
ships by type: cargo 1, chemical tanker 1, oil tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 2

total: 90
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 6
with paved runways under 914 m: 53
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 23


Telephone system: 140,000 telephones; adequate domestic service
local: NA
intercity: the trunk network consists of coaxial and fiber-optic cables and microwave radio relay links
international: 2 earth stations carry all international traffic through an Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT satellite

broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 147 (transmitters and repeaters), shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 202 (transmitters and repeaters)
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: no regular armed forces; Police, Coast Guard; note - Iceland's defense is provided by the US-manned Icelandic Defense Force (IDF) headquartered at Keflavik

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 70,743; males fit for military service 62,698 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: none