Iceland Country Profile Travel Guide Business Information

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

Related pages  Contact the Icelandic Consulate / Reykjavik Visitor Guide

Iceland Country Profile & Guide

Iceland Recent History

At the beginning of the 20th century Iceland was ruled by Denmark. In 1904 it was granted Home Rule in before being given in 1918 its own ‘sovereign status’ under Danish jurisdiction. During WW2 Iceland was occupied by both British and American troops who used the island as a base to combat the threat of German U-boats intent on disrupting essential trade routes across the Atlantic. was benignly occupied, first by British on the 17th of June 1944 Iceland was declared a republic.

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.

Iceland Population The population of Iceland in April 2007 was 309,000. The Capital is Reykjavik has a population of approximately 116,000. The official national language is Icelandic. Religions In Iceland Evangelical Lutheran is followed by 93% with Protestant and Roman Catholicism the largest minorities. Iceland Currency The Iceland unit of currency is the Icelandic Krona. Iceland Political Structure Iceland is a Constitutional Republic with six political parties. Coalition governments are part and parcel of Icelandic politics.

Iceland’s Geography

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.

Foreign investment in The Icelandic fishing industry is not permitted so as to protect the fishing stocks and the country has actively sought to diversify and develop other industries including aluminum smelting information technology banking and bio-genetics. Iceland is self-sufficient in meat and dairy products. The breeding and export of horses is noted as a increasingly thriving business. People in Iceland have one of the Europe’s highest rates of per capita income.

Phone Codes & Time Zone

International telephone codes for Iceland are prefixed with the digits 00 354 and summer time zones are + 0 hour GMT

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.



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