Iceland the Country

When did the first people settle?
How is the goverment build?
What is Icelands capital?
What is the state religion?
 

Iceland the Country
The "Cool" Iceland

Iceland Stock Exchange
Doing Business in Iceland
Air travel in Iceland
Currency in Iceland
Media in Iceland
Other usefull travel information

Index


History
The first people believed to have settled in Iceland were Irish monks who came in the eighth century AD. They left, however, upon the arrival of pagan Norsemen, who came in 874 to seek freedom from Norway's oppressive king Harald Fairhair. In 930 the Icelanders founded the Althing, their supreme general assembly - the oldest parliament in the world. Christianity was adopted in the year 1000. In 1262, Iceland became subject to Norwegian control and in 1380 came under Danish control, along with Norway. After the granting of a constitution (1874) and with an improving economy, Iceland, in 1918, finally became an independent sovereign state under a common king with Denmark. The Republic of Iceland was formally declared on June 17, 1944.

Government and Head of State
Parliamentary system. The Independence Party (IP) and the Progressive Party (PP) formed a centre-right coalition in 1995. The Prime Minister is Davíð Oddsson, Chairman of the IP. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is Halldór Ásgrímsson, Chairman of the PP. In the 1999 general election, seats were won by the IP (26), PP (12), Left Alliance (17), left Greens (6) and Liberals (2).

Head of State: His Excellency, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland, was inaugurated on 1st August 1996 and for a second term on 1st August, 2000. He is a former Minister of Finance and was a professor of political science at the University of Iceland and a member of the Icelandic parliament before he was elected president.

Capital

Reykjavik population: 112,490
Greater Reykjavík area population: 179,781

Population and Language
Population: 288,201 (1st Dec.. 2002). Population density per square kilometre: 2.8. Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe (seventh in the world). Most of the people are of Norwegian descent, with some admixture of Celtic blood from those who came from Ireland and the Scottish islands from the time of settlement.

The country's written and spoken language is Icelandic, a Nordic language very similar to that spoken by Iceland's first settlers. Icelandic is one of the oldest living languages in Europe. English and Danish are mandatory subjects in school. The literacy rate, 99.9%, is the highest in the world.

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Religion
Evangelical Lutheran Church; state church of Iceland: 87.1%
Lutheran free churches: 4.1%
Other: 8.8%

Education
Mandatory from 6 to 15 years of age.
Schools for compulsory education: 193
Schools above compulsory education: 37
Universities and colleges: 8

Geography and climate
Iceland is one of the largest islands in the North Atlantic, lying between latitude 63°24´N and 66°33´N and between longitude 13°30´W and 24°32´W. Iceland has a total area of 103,000 sq. km, or 40,000 sq. miles.

Iceland has a relatively mild coastal climate. The average summer temperature in Reykjavik, the capital, is 10.6°C/51°F in July, with average highs of 24.3°C/76°F. The average winter temperature in Reykjavik is about 0°C/32°F in January.

Economic Indicators for 2002
Gross Domestic Product per capita: not available (USD 26,748 in 2001)
Economic growth: 1.75%
Inflation: 2.25%
Annual average unemployment: 2.75%

Transport
Air transport: Daily flights, most of them operated by Icelandair, link Iceland with more than 20 gateways in Europe and North America. Flight time is 2-4 hours to Western Europe and 5-8 hours to North America. Domestic services operate to Iceland's main regional communities, with flight time of less than one hour.

Shipping: Total number of fishing vessels: 959

Total number of commercial vessels: 40

Others: 136

Approximately 40% of total foreign currency earnings are from marine products. Some 99% of imports and exports are carried by marine transport, most of them handled by Iceland's two major shipping companies, Samskip and Eimskip.

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