General information: Iceland, at the end of the 9th-10th centuries. inhabited by Norwegians and Celts (Scots and Irish), it can be proud of the oldest parliament in the world, the Althing, established in 930. Being independent for over 300 years, Iceland then fell under the rule of Norway, and then Denmark. The eruption of Mount Askja in 1875 dealt a severe blow to the Icelandic economy and caused famine. Over the next 25 years, 20% of the island’s population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the United States. In 1874, Iceland was granted limited self-government, and in 1944 the country gained full independence. Literacy, life expectancy, income and social solidarity meet the highest world standards.
Location: Northern Europe, an island located between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Great Britain.
Geographic coordinates: 65° 00′ N. latitude, 18° 00’W e.
Reference map: Arctic region.
Area: total: 103,000 km2; land surface area: 100,250 km2; water surface area: 2,750 km2
Comparative area: slightly smaller than Kentucky.
Land borders: 0 km.
Coastline: 4,988 km.
Maritime claims: continental shelf: 200 nautical miles or to the outer limits of the continent; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: temperate; moderated by the North Atlantic current; winter is mild, windy; summer is damp and cool.
Relief: most of the territory is occupied by a plateau interspersed with mountain peaks and ice fields; The coastline is heavily indented by bays and fjords.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m; highest point: Hvannadalshnu-kur volcano 2,119 m.
Natural resources: fish, hydropower, geothermal energy, diatomaceous earth.
Land use: arable land: 0%; cultivated land: 0%; pastures: 23%; forests and plantations: 1%; others: 76% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: no data.
Natural hazards: earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Actual environmental problems: water pollution by fertilizers; inadequate wastewater treatment.
International Environmental Treaties: Party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Change, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Pollution, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands land; signed but not ratified: Air Pollution – Persistent Organic Pollutants, Marine Life Conservation.
Note to the section “Geography”: strategic location between Greenland and Europe; the westernmost of the European countries; Reykjavik is the northernmost capital in the world; Iceland has more glaciers than all of continental Europe.
Population: 277,906 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 23.18% (male 33,328; female 31,191); 15 to 64 years old: 65.01% (male 91,095; female 89,583); over 65: 11.81% (male 14,681; female 18,118) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 0.54% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 14.62 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 6.89 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: -2.28 people / 1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male/female; up to 15 years: 1.07 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.02 male/female; over 65: 0.81 male/female; for the general population: 1 male/female. (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 3.56 deaths/1000 newborns (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 79.52 years; men: 77.31 years; women: 81.92 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 2.01 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adult population infected with HIV: 0.14% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 200 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Icelandic; adjective: Icelandic.
Ethnic groups: a homogeneous community of descendants of Norwegians and Celts.
Believers: Evangelical Lutheran 93%, members of other Protestant churches, Catholics, non-denominational (1997).
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 99.9% (1997 est.); men: no data; women: no data.
Common long form: Republic of Iceland;
conventional short form: Iceland; local long form: Lyoveldio Island local short form: Island.
State structure: constitutional republic. See a2zgov.com to know more about Iceland government and politics.
Administrative division: 23 cities and 14 self-governing cities* (kaupstadhur): Akranes*, Akureyri*, Aurnes, Borgarfjardar, Vestmanna Eyjar*, Vestyur-Bardastrandar, Vestyur-Isafyar-dar, Vestyur-Skaftafell, Vestyur-Hunavatn, Güdlbringu, Dala, Isafjordur*, Keflavik*, Kochpavogur*, Kyousar, Mira, Neskeypstadur*, Nordur-Isafjardar, Nordur-Mula, Nordur-Tin-geyjar, Olafsfjordur*, Raungaurvadla, Reykjavik*, Seidaurkroukur*, Seydisfjordur*, Siglufjordur*, Skagafjardar, Snaifellsnesog Hnappadap, Stranda, Sydur-Mula, Sydur-Thingeyar, Hafnarfjordur*, Husavik*, Eystur-Bardastrandar, Eystyur-Skaftafell, Eystyur-Hunavatn, Eyyafyardar.
Independence: from June 17, 1944 (until 1944 – in union with Denmark).
National holiday: Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic, 17 June (1944).
Constitution: adopted 16 June 1944, entered into force 17 June 1944
Legal system: civil law system based on Danish law; does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: President Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON (since 1 August 1996);
head of government: Prime Minister David ODDSSON (since 30 April 1991);
Government: a cabinet of ministers appointed by the prime minister and approved by parliament; elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; elections last held 29 June 1996 (next to be held June 2004); President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson was unopposed in June 2000, so there were no elections; the prime minister is appointed by the president; election results: Olafur Ragnar Grimsson elected president.
Legislature: unicameral Althing (63 seats; members of the chamber are elected by popular vote for 4 years); elections: last held 8 May 1999 (next to be held April 2003); election results: distribution of votes between parties – IP 40.7%, Alliance 26.8%, RR 18.4%, Union of the Left and Greens 9.1%, Liberal Party 4.2%; distribution of seats by party – IP 26, Alliance 17, RR 12, Union of the Left and Greens 6, Liberal Party 2.
Judiciary: Supreme Court (Haestirettur), judges are appointed by the president for life.
Political parties and leaders: Independence Party (Conservatives) (IP) (David ODDS-SON); Union of the Left and the Greens (Steinsvimur SIGFUSSON); Liberal Party (Sverrir HERMANNSSON [Sverrir HERMANNSSON]); People’s Party (Social Democratic Party) (SDP) (Sighvatur BJORGVINSSON); Progressive Party (Liberal) (PP) (Halldor ASGRIMSSON); Alliance (includes People’s Alliance [RA], Social Democratic Party [SVP], People’s Movement, Women’s List) (Ossur SKARPHEDINSSON [Ossur SKARPHEDINSSON]); Women’s List (WL) (Kristin ASTGEIRS-DOTTIR).
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: Australia Group, BIS, CBSS, CCC, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EFTA, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA (observer), IFC, lFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NATO, NC, NEA, NIB, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNU, UPU, WEU (associate), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: head of mission: Ambassador Jon-Baldvin HANNIBALSSON; office: Suite 1200,1156 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005; phone:  (202) 265-6653; fax:  (202) 265-6656; consulates general: New York.
US Diplomatic Mission: Head of Mission: Ambassador Barbara GRIFFITHS; embassy: Laufasvegur 21, Reykjavik; mailing address: US Embassy, PSC 1003, Box 40, FPO AE 09728-0340; phone:  5629100; fax:  5629118.
Description of the flag: blue with a red cross with a white border, which rests on the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the side adjacent to the staff, in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag).