Iceland Country Profile Travel Guide Business Information
Iceland population Iceland religion Iceland history Iceland economy Iceland currency Iceland road travel & other useful Icelandic national information
Iceland Country Profile & Guide
Iceland Recent History
Since becoming independent it has extended its ‘territorial waters’ on several occasions so as to protect it fishing industry from over fishing by fishing fleets from other parts of Europe. In 1985 it declared itself as a nuclear free zone. It has not joined the EU and though a member of NATO it has no military forces. Its security has been guaranteed by the United States since 1951. Iceland is an active member of the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Council for Baltic Sea States. In 1989 Iceland gave up ‘whale fishing’ one of oldest industries but inspite of intense international criticism resumed this in 2006.
In 2001 it set up the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit with experts in various fields such as law engineering medical and police who have been trained to assist at short notice key places internationally. In 2003 they were responsible for the management of Pristina airport Kosovo and then in 2004 undertook a similar role at Kabul airport in Afghanistan.
Situated east of Greenland about two hours flying time northwest of Scotland Iceland is a volcanic island (there are at least 200 volcano’s) which also regularly suffers from earthquakes. Like northern Norway to its east the island has the ‘midnight sun’ in summer and little daylight in mid winter. Also like Norway the ‘northern lights can be seen in winter.
Iceland Economy Business
The economy of Iceland grows at around 5% per annum. The annual rate of Inflation is around 7%. Unemployment is circa 1% Iceland’s major industries are fish processing aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production geothermal power, pharmaceuticals. In recent years Tourism has rapidly become a major source of income. Close on half a million tourists visit Iceland annually with circa 15% of these from the UK. Iceland’s main trading partners include Denmark Germany The Netherlands the United Kingdom and the United States.
Phone Codes & Time Zone
Iceland Road Travel
Any EU/EEA driving licence valid for driving in Iceland. As many roads between many towns are narrow and winding with low speed limits journeys can take longer than anticipated. During the winter some roads become impassable and winter tyres are essential from November to May. Some higher routes are only open during the summer. Fines for breaching speed limits and other road traffic offences are high. Further information on driving in Iceland including updated road conditions and weather forecasts is available in English from the Iceland National Roads Authority.
The Blue Lagoon reopened in summer 2008 following redevelopment. The famous natural steam bath is a favoured and traditional place for visitors and Icelanders.
The Leading Icelandic World Heritage Sites
Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is the National Park of Iceland where, starting in 930 AD, Althing - an open-air convention, representing all of Iceland met for a fortnight every year. The convention made laws regarded as ‘covenants between free men’ and resolved any disputes on the Island.
The Althing and the National Park in southwest Iceland is considered a place of important historical significance and is seen as a symbol of Iceland’s culture. The remains of the Althing include parts of about 50 stone and turf huts built before 1798 when the Althing was dissolved. It is thought that the sites first buildings in the 10th century remain below the topsoil.
The park also demonstrates how the land was used for agricultural purposes in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Viðmýri Church Skagafj6r6ur, in northern Iceland is one a few turf churches remaining in Iceland. Though the area has had a church since the 12th century the present church dates back to 1834. The church consists of wood, stone and turf. Its internal walls are wooden and 9.70 metres long, 3,90 metres wide and 4.3metres high. Externally these walls are surrounded by stone and then turf.
Skaftafell National Park has been submitted for listing for several reasons. It contains part of Europe’s largest glacier the Vatnajokull glacier . The present land is formed and subject to changes from this and other glaciers and their glacial rivers.
Within the park there are other examples of the areas past including the remains of the original Skaftafell farm – evacuated in 1867 when it became no longer viable due to the increasingly high waters of the rivers. It also contains the ruins of Westernmost farm in neighbouring hills.
Close by the National Museum of Iceland has been rebuilding another 19th century farm called Sel. The living area was warmed by the cowshed underneath. Techniques like this were used from the end of the first millennium intil the 19th century but few examples remain. Some of the properties that do remain actually look as if they are part of the natural landscape as the embedded in turf and grass.
Reykholt in Western Iceland is home to Snorralaug a hot-spring bath, commandered by man in the 17th century from a natural resource which was first documented in 1772.