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 Iceland [Country Flag of Iceland]
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Iceland]

Iceland

Geography

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Location: Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the UK

Geographic coordinates: 65 00 N, 18 00 W

Map references: Arctic Region

Area:
total: 103,000 sq km
land: 100,250 sq km
water: 2,750 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than Kentucky

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 4,988 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: temperate; moderated by North Atlantic Current; mild, windy winters; damp, cool summers

Terrain: mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields; coast deeply indented by bays and fiords

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Hvannadalshnukur 2,119 m

Natural resources: fish, hydropower, geothermal power, diatomite

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 23%
forests and woodland: 1%
other: 76% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: earthquakes and volcanic activity

Environment—current issues: water pollution from fertilizer runoff; inadequate wastewater treatment

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation

Geography—note: strategic location between Greenland and Europe; westernmost European country; more land covered by glaciers than in all of continental Europe

People

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Population: 271,033 (July 1998 est.)
note: population data estimates based on average growth rate may differ slightly from official population data because of volatile migration rates

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24% (male 32,723; female 31,196)
15-64 years: 65% (male 88,608; female 86,775)
65 years and over: 11% (male 14,324; female 17,407) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.52% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 15.11 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 6.97 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -2.94 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 5.27 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.84 years
male: 76.76 years
female: 81.05 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.04 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Icelander(s)
adjective: Icelandic

Ethnic groups: homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norwegians and Celts

Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 96%, other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3%, none 1% (1988)

Languages: Icelandic

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100% (1976 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%

Government

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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Iceland
conventional short form: Iceland
local long form: Lyoveldio Island
local short form: Island

Data code: IC

Government type: constitutional republic

National capital: Reykjavik

Administrative divisions: 23 counties (syslar, singular—sysla) and 14 independent towns* (kaupstadhir, singular—kaupstadhur); Akranes*, Akureyri*, Arnessysla, Austur-Bardhastrandarsysla, Austur-Hunavatnssysla, Austur-Skaftafellssysla, Borgarfjardharsysla, Dalasysla, Eyjafjardharsysla, Gullbringusysla, Hafnarfjordhur*, Husavik*, Isafjordhur*, Keflavik*, Kjosarsysla, Kopavogur*, Myrasysla, Neskaupstadhur*, Nordhur-Isafjardharsysla, Nordhur-Mulasys-la, Nordhur-Thingeyjarsysla, Olafsfjordhur*, Rangarvallasysla, Reykjavik*, Saudharkrokur*, Seydhisfjordhur*, Siglufjordhur*, Skagafjardharsysla, Snaefellsnes-og Hnappadalssysla, Strandasysla, Sudhur-Mulasysla, Sudhur-Thingeyjarsysla, Vesttmannaeyjar*, Vestur-Bardhastrandarsysla, Vestur-Hunavatnssysla, Vestur-Isafjardharsysla, Vestur-Skaftafellssysla

Independence: 17 June 1944 (from Denmark)

National holiday: Anniversary of the Establishment of the Republic, 17 June (1944)

Constitution: 16 June 1944, effective 17 June 1944

Legal system: civil law system based on Danish law; does not accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON (since 1 August 1996)
head of government: Prime Minister David ODDSSON (since 30 April 1991)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 29 June 1996 (next to be held NA June 2000); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON elected president; percent of vote—41.4%

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Althing (63 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 8 April 1995 (next to be held by April 1999)
election results: percent of vote by party—Independence Party 37.1%, Progressive Party 23.3%, Social Democratic Party 11.4%, Socialists 14.3%, People's Movement 7.2%, Women's Party 4.9%; seats by party—Independence 25, Progressive 15, Social Democratic 7, Socialists 9, People's Movement 4, Women's Party 3

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Haestirettur, justices are appointed for life by the president

Political parties and leaders: Independence Party (conservative) or IP [David ODDSSON]; Progressive Party (liberal) or PP [Halldor ASGRIMSSON]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Sighvatur BJORGVINSSON]; People's Alliance (left socialist) or PA [Margret FRIMANNSDOTTIR]; Women's Party or WL [Kristin ASTGEIRSDOTTIR]; People's Movement (centrist); National Awakening (People's Revival Party) or PR [Johanna SIGURDARDOTTIR]

International organization participation: Australia Group, BIS, CBSS, CCC, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EFTA, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, MTCR, NATO, NC, NEA, NIB, OECD, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNMIBH, UNU, UPU, WEU (associate), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jon-Baldvin HANNIBALSSON
chancery: Suite 1200, 1156 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 265-6653 through 6655
FAX: [1] (202) 265-6656
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Day Olin MOUNT (22 August 1996)
embassy: Laufasvegur 21, Reykjavik
mailing address: US Embassy, PSC 1003, Box 40, FPO AE 09728-0340
telephone: [354] 5629100
FAX: [354] 5629118

Flag description: blue with a red cross outlined in white that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag)

Economy

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Economy—overview: Iceland's Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic, yet with an extensive welfare system, low unemployment, and remarkably even distribution of income. The economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, which provides 75% of export earnings and employs 12% of the work force. In the absence of other natural resources—except energy—Iceland's economy is vulnerable to changing world fish prices. The economy remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to drops in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. The center-right government plans to continue its policies of reducing the budget and current account deficits, limiting foreign borrowing, containing inflation, revising agricultural and fishing policies, diversifying the economy, and privatizing state-owned industries. The government remains opposed to EU membership, primarily because of Icelanders' concern about losing control over their fishing resources. Growth is likely to slow in 1998, to a still respectable 3.9%.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$5.71 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 4.9% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$21,000 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 9.6%
industry: 22.1%
services: 68.3% (1991)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 2.3% (1996)

Labor force:
total: 131,000 (1996 est.)
by occupation: manufacturing 12.9%, fishing and fish processing 11.8%, construction 10.7%, other services 59.5%, agriculture 5.1% (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate: 3.8% (1997 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $1.9 billion
expenditures: $2.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $146 million (1996 est.)

Industries: fish processing; aluminum smelting, ferrosilicon production, geothermal power; tourism

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 1.083 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 4.916 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 18,481 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: potatoes, turnips; cattle, sheep; fish catch of about 1.1 million metric tons in 1992

Exports:
total value: $1.8 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: fish and fish products 75%, animal products, aluminum, ferrosilicon, diatomite
partners: UK 19%, Germany 14%, US 12%, Japan 11%, Denmark 8%, France 7% (1995)

Imports:
total value: $2 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, foodstuffs, textiles
partners: Germany 11%, Norway 10%, UK 10%, Denmark 9%, US 8%, Sweden 7% (1995)

Debt—external: $2.2 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid: $NA

Currency: 1 Icelandic krona (IKr) = 100 aurar

Exchange rates: Icelandic kronur (IKr) per US$1—72.707 (January 1998), 70.904 (1997), 66.500 (1996), 64.692 (1995), 69.944 (1994), 67.603 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

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Telephones: 143,600 (1993 est.)

Telephone system: adequate domestic service
domestic: the trunk network consists of coaxial and fiber-optic cables and microwave radio relay links
international: satellite earth stations—2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean Regions); note—Iceland shares the Inmarsat earth station with the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 147 (transmitters and repeaters), shortwave 0

Radios: 91,500 licensed (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 202 (transmitters and repeaters)

Televisions: 96,100 licensed (1993 est.)

Transportation

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Railways: 0 km

Highways:
total: 12,341 km
paved: 3,196 km
unpaved: 9,145 km (1996 est.)

Ports and harbors: Akureyri, Hornafjordur, Isafjordhur, Keflavik, Raufarhofn, Reykjavik, Seydhisfjordhur, Straumsvik, Vestmannaeyjar

Merchant marine:
total: 5 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 22,594 GRT/29,322 DWT
ships by type: cargo 1, chemical tanker 1, container 1, oil tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 1 (1997 est.)

Airports: 90 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 11
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 79
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 22
under 914 m: 54 (1997 est.)

Military

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Military branches: no regular armed forces; Police, Coast Guard; note—Iceland's defense is provided by the US-manned Icelandic Defense Force (IDF) headquartered at Keflavik

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 70,906 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 62,595 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: none

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark, Ireland, and the UK (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area)