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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Iceland General Info
Iceland General Information - TravelPuppy.com
Area

103,000 square kilometres (39,769 square miles)

Population

294,000 (the UN estimate, 2005).

Population Density

2.85 people per square kilometre

Capital

Reykjavík.

Population of Reykjavík

112,554 people (the 2002 official estimate).

Geography:

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.

 The 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.

 5 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.

 More than half the population live in or around the capital, Reykjavík.

 Iceland is 1 of the most volcanically active countries in the world.

 Hekla, 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.

 Iceland’s 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.

Government

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 since 2004.

Language

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.

Religion

Lutheran, with a Catholic minority.

Social Conventions

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.

Time Zone

Greenich Mean Time (GMT).

Electricity

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.
Useful travel links
CIA Factbook - Iceland information on the geography, people & maps