103,000 square kilometres (39,769 square miles)
294,000 (the UN estimate, 2005).
2.85 people per square kilometre
112,554 people (the 2002 official estimate).
Some key geographical facts:
Iceland is a large island in the North Atlantic close to the Arctic
Circle and consists of islands to the north and south.
landscape is wild, rugged and colourful, with red sulphur,black
lava, hot blue geysers, grey and white rivers with waterfalls
and green valleys, its coastline richly indented with
bays and fjords.
The whole of the central highland plateau of the island is a stunning
but barren and uninhabitable moonscape, so much
so that the 1st American astronauts were sent
there for pre mission training.
6ths of Iceland is uninhabited, the population being concentrated
on the coast, in the valleys and in the plains of the
southwest and southeast of the country.
than half the population live in or around the capital, Reykjavík.
is 1 of the most volcanically active countries in the world.
in the south of Iceland, is the most well known and magnificent
volcano of them all. It has erupted no fewer than 16
times since Iceland was settled, and throughout the
Middle Ages was thought of by European clergymen as
1 of the gateways to Hell itself.
Another volcano called Snæfellsnes, fired Jules Verne’s
imagination to use its crater as the point of entry
for his epic tale, Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
highest and most extensive glacier is Vatnajökull, at 8,500
square kilometres (3280 square miles), it is the largest
in Europe, although it is now reported to be melting.
Executive power is vested in the President and Government, while
legislative authority rests mutually with the President
and the 63 member Alþing (Parliament). Both are elected for
4 year terms. The Alþing has recently been reduced from 2
houses to 1.
The Icelantic government is republic. Iceland gained
full independence from Denmark in 1944.
The Head of State has been President Ólafur
Ragnar Grimsson since 1996. The Head of Government
has been Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson
The official language is Icelandic, which has remained
practically unchanged since the Vikings settled Iceland in the 9
th and 10 th centuries. The Icelandic language refuses to accept
foreign words, preferring instead to coin new words from ancient
Viking roots. The word for computer thus becomes tölva, a hybrid
made up of the old words for ‘number’ and ‘prophetess’.
English (which is taught in schools) and Danish are widely spoken.
Lutheran, with a Catholic minority.
Visitors will find Iceland is a classless society with a strong
literary custom. Handshaking is the general form
of greeting. An Icelander is called by his 1st name because his
surname is made up of his father’s Christian name plus son
or daughter (eg John, the son of Magnus, would be called John Magnusson,
while John’s sister, Mary, would be known as Mary Magnusdóttir).
People are addressed as Fru (Mrs) and Herra (Mr). Visitors will
often be invited to homes particularly if on business and normal
courtesies should be observed. Icelanders pay careful attention
to their appearance and, as for most Western countries, casual
wear is largely acceptable although unsuitable for smart
and social functions.
Greenich Mean Time (GMT).
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plug fittings are generally 2 pin with round
section pins 4 millimeters in diameter with centres 2 centimeters
apart. Lamp fittings are screw type. Power is generated by a mix
of hydroelectric and geothermal stations.