Iceland (/ˈaɪslənd/ ( listen); Icelandic: Ísland,
pronounced [ˈistlant]) is a Nordic island country in the
North Atlantic, with a population of 348,580 and an area of
103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely
populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is
Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of
the country are home to over two-thirds of the population.
Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists
of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and
glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the
Iceland is warmed by the
Gulf Stream and has a temperate
climate, despite a high latitude just outside the
Arctic Circle. Its
high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of
the archipelago having a tundra climate.
According to the ancient manuscript Landnámabók, the settlement of
Iceland began in 874 AD when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson
became the first permanent settler on the island. In the following
centuries, Norwegians, and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians,
emigrated to Iceland, bringing with them thralls (i.e., slaves or
serfs) of Gaelic origin. The island was governed as an independent
commonwealth under the Althing, one of the world's oldest functioning
legislative assemblies. Following a period of civil strife, Iceland
acceded to Norwegian rule in the 13th century. The establishment of
Kalmar Union in 1397 united the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark, and
Iceland thus followed Norway's integration to that union and
came under Danish rule, after Sweden's secession from that union in
1523. Although the Danish kingdom introduced
Lutheranism forcefully in
Iceland remained a distant semi-colonial territory in which
Danish institutions and infrastructures were conspicuous by their
absence. In the wake of the
French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars,
Iceland's struggle for independence took form and culminated in
independence in 1918 and the founding of a republic in 1944. Until the
Iceland relied largely on subsistence fishing and
agriculture, and was among the poorest countries in Europe.
Industrialisation of the fisheries and
Marshall Plan aid following
World War II
World War II brought prosperity, and
Iceland became one of the
wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 1994, it became
a part of the European Economic Area, which further diversified the
economy into sectors such as finance, biotechnology, and
Iceland has a market economy with relatively low taxes, compared to
OECD countries. It maintains a Nordic social welfare system
that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its
Iceland ranks high in economic, political, and social
stability and equality. In 2016, it was ranked as the 9th most
developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human
Development Index, and it ranks first on the Global Peace Index.
Iceland runs almost completely on renewable energy. Affected by the
ongoing worldwide financial crisis, the nation's entire banking system
systemically failed in October 2008, leading to a severe depression,
substantial political unrest, the Icesave dispute, and the institution
of capital controls. Some bankers were jailed. Since then, the
economy has made a significant recovery, in large part due to a surge
Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation's Scandinavian heritage.
Icelanders are descendants of Norse and Gaelic settlers.
Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is descended from Old West Norse
and is closely related to Faroese and West Norwegian dialects. The
country's cultural heritage includes traditional Icelandic cuisine,
Icelandic literature, and medieval sagas.
Iceland has the smallest
population of any
NATO member and is the only one with no standing
army, with a lightly armed coast guard in charge of defence.
2.1 Settlement and Commonwealth 874–1262
2.2 The Middle Ages
2.3 Reformation and the Early Modern period
2.4 Independence movement 1814–1918
2.5 Independence and the
Kingdom of Iceland
Kingdom of Iceland 1918–1944
2.6.1 Economic boom and crisis
4.2 Administrative divisions
4.3 Foreign relations
5.1 Economic contraction
5.4 Education and science
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
See also: Names of Iceland
Norsemen landing in
Iceland – a 19th-century depiction by Oscar
The Sagas of
Icelanders say that a Norwegian named
Naddador) was the first Norseman to reach Iceland, and in the Ninth
Century he named it Snæland or "snow land" because it was snowing.
Following Naddodd, the Swede
Garðar Svavarsson arrived, and so the
island was then called Garðarshólmur which means "Garðar’s Isle".
Then came a Viking named Flóki Vilgerðarson; his daughter drowned en
route, then his livestock starved to death. The sagas say that the
rather despondent Flóki climbed a mountain and saw a fjord
(Ísafjörður) full of icebergs, which led him to give the island its
new and present name. The notion that Iceland’s Viking settlers
chose that name to discourage oversettlement of their verdant isle is
merely a myth.
History of Iceland
History of Iceland and Timeline of Icelandic history
Settlement and Commonwealth 874–1262
See also: Settlement of Iceland, Icelandic Commonwealth, and
Christianisation of Iceland
Ingólfr Arnarson (modern Icelandic: Ingólfur Arnarson), the first
permanent Scandinavian settler[clarification needed] in Iceland
According to both
Landnámabók and Íslendingabók, Celtic monks
known as the
Papar lived in
Iceland before Scandinavian settlers
arrived, possibly members of a Hiberno-Scottish mission. Recent
archaeological excavations have revealed the ruins of a cabin in
Hafnir on the
Carbon dating indicates that it was
abandoned sometime between 770 and 880. In 2016, archeologists
uncovered a longhouse in
Stöðvarfjörður that has been dated to as
early as 800.
Swedish Viking explorer
Garðar Svavarsson was the first to
Iceland in 870 and establish that it was an island.
He stayed over winter and built a house in Húsavík. Garðar departed
the following summer but one of his men, Náttfari, decided to stay
behind with two slaves.
Náttfari settled in what is now known as
Náttfaravík and he and his slaves became the first permanent
residents of Iceland[clarification needed].
The Norwegian-Norse chieftain
Ingólfr Arnarson built his homestead in
Reykjavík in 874. Ingólfr was followed by many other
emigrant settlers, largely Scandinavians and their thralls, many of
whom were Irish or Scottish. By 930, most arable land on the
island had been claimed; the Althing, a legislative and judicial
assembly, was initiated to regulate the Icelandic Commonwealth. Lack
of arable land also served impetus to the settlement of Greenland
starting in 986. The period of these early settlements coincided
with the Medieval Warm Period, when temperatures were similar to those
of the early 20th century. At this time, about 25% of
covered with forest, compared to 1% in the present day.
Christianity was adopted by consensus around 999–1000, although
Norse paganism persisted among some segments of the population for
some years afterwards.
The Middle Ages
See also: Age of the Sturlungs
Ósvör, a replica of an old fishing outpost outside Bolungarvík
Icelandic Commonwealth lasted until the 13th century, when the
political system devised by the original settlers proved unable to
cope with the increasing power of Icelandic chieftains. The
internal struggles and civil strife of the
Age of the Sturlungs
Age of the Sturlungs led to
the signing of the Old Covenant in 1262, which ended the Commonwealth
Iceland under the Norwegian crown. Possession of Iceland
passed from the
Norwegian Empire to the
Kalmar Union in 1415, when the
kingdoms of Norway,
Sweden were united. After the break-up
of the union in 1523, it remained a Norwegian dependency, as a part of
In the ensuing centuries,
Iceland became one of the poorest countries
in Europe. Infertile soil, volcanic eruptions, deforestation and an
unforgiving climate made for harsh life in a society where subsistence
depended almost entirely on agriculture. The
Black Death swept Iceland
twice, first in 1402–1404 and again in 1494–1495. The former
outbreak killed 50% to 60% of the population, and the latter 30% to
Reformation and the Early Modern period
See also: Icelandic Reformation, Danish-Icelandic Trade Monopoly, and
Around the middle of the 16th century, as part of the Protestant
Christian III of Denmark
Christian III of Denmark began to impose Lutheranism
on all his subjects. Jón Arason, the last Catholic bishop of Hólar,
was beheaded in 1550 along with two of his sons. The country
subsequently became officially Lutheran and
Lutheranism has since
remained the dominant religion.
A map of
Iceland published in the early 17th century
In the 17th and 18th centuries,
Denmark imposed harsh trade
restrictions on Iceland. Natural disasters, including volcanic
eruption and disease, contributed to a decreasing population. Pirates
from several countries, including the Barbary Coast, raided Iceland's
coastal settlements and abducted people into slavery. A great
smallpox epidemic in the 18th century killed around a third of the
population. In 1783 the
Laki volcano erupted, with devastating
effects. In the years following the eruption, known as the Mist
Hardships (Icelandic: Móðuharðindin), over half of all livestock
died in the country. Around a quarter of the population died in the
Independence movement 1814–1918
Icelandic independence movement
Icelandic independence movement and Fjölnir (journal)
In 1814, following the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark-
Norway was broken up
into two separate kingdoms via the
Treaty of Kiel
Treaty of Kiel but
a Danish dependency. Throughout the 19th century, the country's
climate continued to grow colder, resulting in mass emigration to the
New World, particularly to the region of
Gimli, Manitoba in Canada,
which was sometimes referred to as New Iceland. About 15,000 people
emigrated, out of a total population of 70,000.
A national consciousness arose in the first half of the 19th century,
inspired by romantic and nationalist ideas from mainland Europe. An
Icelandic independence movement
Icelandic independence movement took shape in the 1850s under the
leadership of Jón Sigurðsson, based on the burgeoning Icelandic
nationalism inspired by the
Fjölnismenn and other Danish-educated
Icelandic intellectuals. In 1874,
constitution and limited home rule. This was expanded in 1904, and
Hannes Hafstein served as the first
Minister for Iceland
Minister for Iceland in the Danish
Independence and the
Kingdom of Iceland
Kingdom of Iceland 1918–1944
See also: Kingdom of Iceland, Invasion of Iceland, and
World War II
HMS Berwick led the British invasion of Iceland
The Danish–Icelandic Act of Union, an agreement with
on 1 December 1918 and valid for 25 years, recognised
a fully sovereign and independent state in a personal union with
Government of Iceland
Government of Iceland established an embassy in
Copenhagen and requested that
Denmark carry out on its behalf certain
defence and foreign affairs matters, subject to consultation with the
Althing. Danish embassies around the world displayed two coats of arms
and two flags: those of the Kingdom of
Denmark and those of the
Kingdom of Iceland. Iceland's legal position became comparable to
those of countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations such as
Canada whose sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II.
During World War II,
Denmark in asserting neutrality.
German occupation of Denmark
German occupation of Denmark on 9 April 1940, the Althing
replaced the King with a regent and declared that the Icelandic
government would take over full implementation of its defence and
foreign affairs. A month later, British armed forces invaded and
occupied the country, violating Icelandic neutrality. In 1941, the
Government of Iceland
Government of Iceland invited the United States to take over its
defence so that Britain could use its troops elsewhere.
British and Icelandic vessels collide in the
Atlantic Ocean during the
Cod Wars (Icelandic vessel is shown on the left; the British vessel is
on the right)
See also: Icelandic constitutional referendum, 1944;
Iceland in the
Cold War; and
On 31 December 1943, the
Danish–Icelandic Act of Union
Danish–Icelandic Act of Union expired after
25 years. Beginning on 20 May 1944,
Icelanders voted in a
four-day plebiscite on whether to terminate the personal union with
Denmark, abolish the monarchy, and establish a republic. The vote was
97% to end the union, and 95% in favour of the new republican
Iceland formally became a republic on 17 June 1944,
Sveinn Björnsson as its first president.
In 1946, the US Defence Force Allied left Iceland. The nation formally
became a member of
NATO on 30 March 1949, amid domestic controversy
and riots. On 5 May 1951, a defence agreement was signed with the
United States. American troops returned to
Iceland as the Iceland
Defence Force, and remained throughout the Cold War. The US withdrew
the last of its forces on 30 September 2006.
Iceland prospered during the Second World War. The immediate post-war
period was followed by substantial economic growth, driven by
industrialisation of the fishing industry and the US Marshall Plan
programme, through which
Icelanders received the most aid per capita
of any European country (at USD $209, with the war-ravaged Netherlands
a distant second at USD $109).
The 1970s were marked by the
Cod Wars — several disputes with
United Kingdom over Iceland's extension of its fishing limits to
200 nmi (370 km) offshore.
Iceland hosted a summit in
Reykjavík in 1986 between United States President
Ronald Reagan and
Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, during which they took significant
steps toward nuclear disarmament. A few years later,
the first country to recognize the independence of Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania as they broke away from the USSR. Throughout the 1990s,
the country expanded its international role and developed a foreign
policy oriented toward humanitarian and peacekeeping causes. To that
Iceland provided aid and expertise to various NATO-led
interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq.
Iceland joined the
European Economic Area
European Economic Area in 1994, after which the
economy was greatly diversified and liberalised. International
economic relations increased further after 2001, when Iceland's newly
deregulated banks began to raise massive amounts of external debt,
contributing to a 32% increase in Iceland's gross national income
between 2002 and 2007.
Economic boom and crisis
2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis
2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis and 2009
Icelandic financial crisis
Icelandic financial crisis protests
In 2003–2007, following the privatisation of the banking sector
under the government of Davíð Oddsson,
Iceland moved toward having
an economy based on international investment banking and financial
services. It was quickly becoming one of the most prosperous
countries in the world but was hit hard by a major financial
crisis. The crisis resulted in the greatest migration from Iceland
since 1887, with a net emigration of 5,000 people in 2009.
Iceland's economy stabilised under the government of Jóhanna
Sigurðardóttir, and grew by 1.6% in 2012. Many Icelanders,
however, have remained unhappy with the state of the economy and
government austerity policies. The centre-right Independence Party was
returned to power in coalition with the Progressive Party in the 2013
elections. In the following years,
Iceland saw a surge in tourism
as the country became a popular holiday destination. In 2016, Prime
Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned after being implicated
Panama Papers scandal. Early elections in 2016 resulted in
a right-wing coalition government of the Independence Party, the
Reform Party and Bright Future. 
General topographic map
Further information: Geography of Iceland
Iceland is at the juncture of the North Atlantic and
The main island is entirely south of the
Arctic Circle, which passes
through the small Icelandic island of
Grímsey off the main island's
northern coast. The country lies between latitudes 63 and 68°N, and
longitudes 25 and 13°W.
Iceland is closer to continental
Europe than to mainland North
America; thus, the island is generally included in
historical, political, cultural, geographical, and practical
reasons. Geologically, the island includes parts of
both continental plates. The closest body of land is Greenland
(290 km, 180 mi). The closest bodies of land in
Faroe Islands (420 km, 260 mi);
Jan Mayen Island
(570 km, 350 mi);
Shetland and the Outer Hebrides, both
about 740 km (460 mi); and the Scottish mainland and Orkney,
both about 750 km (470 mi). The mainland of
Norway is about
970 km (600 mi) away.
Three typical Icelandic landscapes
Iceland is the world's 18th largest island, and Europe's
second-largest island after Great Britain. The main island is
101,826 km2 (39,315 sq mi), but the entire country is
103,000 km2 (39,768.5 sq mi) in size, of which 62.7% is
tundra. About 30 minor islands are in Iceland, including the lightly
Grímsey and the
Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. Lakes and
glaciers cover 14.3% of its surface; only 23% is vegetated. The
largest lakes are
Þórisvatn reservoir: 83–88 km2
(32–34 sq mi) and Þingvallavatn: 82 km2
(32 sq mi); other important lakes include
Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake, at 248 m
Iceland is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a ridge along
which the oceanic crust spreads and forms new oceanic crust. This part
of the mid-ocean ridge is located above a mantle plume, causing
Iceland to be subaerial (above the surface of the sea). The ridge
marks the boundary between the Eurasian and North American Plates, and
Iceland was created by rifting and accretion through volcanism along
Many fjords punctuate Iceland's 4,970-km-long (3,088-mi) coastline,
which is also where most settlements are situated. The island's
interior, the Highlands of Iceland, is a cold and uninhabitable
combination of sand, mountains, and lava fields. The major towns are
the capital city of Reykjavík, along with its outlying towns of
Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður, and Garðabær, nearby Reykjanesbær
where the international airport is located, and the town of Akureyri
in northern Iceland. The island of
Grímsey on the
contains the northernmost habitation of Iceland, whereas Kolbeinsey
contains the northernmost point of Iceland.
Iceland has three
Vatnajökull National Park,
Þingvellir National Park. The country is considered a
"strong performer" in environmental protection, having been ranked
13th in Yale University's Environmental Performance Index of 2012.
Iceland as seen from space on 29 January 2004
The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull
South of Iceland, off the Ring Road, looking north, late afternoon in
Main article: Geology of Iceland
Haukadalur valley, the oldest known geyser in
Gullfoss, an iconic waterfall of Iceland
A geologically young land,
Iceland is located on both the Iceland
hotspot and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs right through it. This
location means that the island is highly geologically active with many
volcanoes, notably Hekla, Eldgjá, Herðubreið, and Eldfell. The
volcanic eruption of
Laki in 1783–1784 caused a famine that killed
nearly a quarter of the island's population. In addition, the
eruption caused dust clouds and haze to appear over most of
parts of Asia and Africa for several months afterward, and affected
climates in other areas.
Iceland has many geysers, including Geysir, from which the English
word is derived, and the famous Strokkur, which erupts every
8–10 minutes. After a phase of inactivity,
erupting again after a series of earthquakes in 2000.
Geysir has since
grown quieter and does not erupt often.
With the widespread availability of geothermal power, and the
harnessing of many rivers and waterfalls for hydroelectricity, most
residents have access to inexpensive hot water, heating, and
electricity. The island is composed primarily of basalt, a low-silica
lava associated with effusive volcanism as has occurred also in
Hawaii. Iceland, however, has a variety of volcanic types (composite
and fissure), many producing more evolved lavas such as rhyolite and
Iceland has hundreds of volcanoes with about 30 active
Surtsey, one of the youngest islands in the world, is part of Iceland.
Named after Surtr, it rose above the ocean in a series of volcanic
eruptions between 8 November 1963 and 5 June 1968. Only scientists
researching the growth of new life are allowed to visit the
On 21 March 2010, a volcano in
Eyjafjallajökull in the south of
Iceland erupted for the first time since 1821, forcing 600 people to
flee their homes. Additional eruptions on 14 April forced hundreds
of people to abandon their homes. The resultant cloud of volcanic
ash brought major disruption to air travel across Europe.
Another large eruption occurred on 21 May 2011. This time it was the
Grímsvötn volcano, located under the thick ice of Europe's largest
Grímsvötn is one of Iceland's most active
volcanoes, and this eruption was much more powerful than the 2010
Eyjafjallajökull activity, with ash and lava hurled 20 km
(12 mi) into the atmosphere, creating a large cloud.
The highest elevation for
Iceland is listed as 2,110 m (6,923 ft)
Hvannadalshnúkur (64°00′N 16°39′W).
Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification types of Iceland
Eyjafjallajökull glacier, one of the smaller glaciers of Iceland
Main article: Climate of Iceland
The climate of Iceland's coast is subarctic. The warm North Atlantic
Current ensures generally higher annual temperatures than in most
places of similar latitude in the world. Regions in the world with
similar climates include the Aleutian Islands, the Alaska Peninsula,
and Tierra del Fuego, although these regions are closer to the
equator. Despite its proximity to the Arctic, the island's coasts
remain ice-free through the winter. Ice incursions are rare, the last
having occurred on the north coast in 1969.
The climate varies between different parts of the island. Generally
speaking, the south coast is warmer, wetter, and windier than the
north. The Central Highlands are the coldest part of the country.
Low-lying inland areas in the north are the most arid. Snowfall in
winter is more common in the north than the south.
The highest air temperature recorded was 30.5 °C (86.9 °F)
on 22 June 1939 at Teigarhorn on the southeastern coast. The lowest
was −38 °C (−36.4 °F) on 22 January 1918 at
Grímsstaðir and Möðrudalur in the northeastern hinterland. The
temperature records for
Reykjavík are 26.2 °C (79.2 °F)
on 30 July 2008, and −24.5 °C (−12.1 °F) on 21 January
Climate data for Reykjavík,
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Source #1: Icelandic Meteorological Office
Source #2: All Icelandic weather station climatic monthly means
Climate data for Akureyri,
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Source #1: Icelandic Meteorological Office
Source #2: All Icelandic weather station climatic monthly means
Record high c 20
Whaling in Iceland
Whaling in Iceland and The Botany of Iceland
Arctic fox is the only indigenous land mammal in
Iceland and was
the only land mammal prior to the arrival of humans
An Icelandic sheep
An Icelandic horse
Around 1,300 species of insects are known in Iceland. This is low
compared with other countries (over one million species have been
Iceland is essentially free of mosquitoes.
The only native land mammal when humans arrived was the Arctic
fox, which came to the island at the end of the ice age, walking
over the frozen sea. On rare occasions, bats have been carried to the
island with the winds, but they are not able to breed there. Polar
bears occasionally come over from Greenland, but they are just
visitors, and no Icelandic populations exist. No native or
free-living reptiles or amphibians are on the island.
Iceland belongs to the
Arctic province of the
Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. Around three-quarters
of the island is barren of vegetation; plant life consists mainly of
grassland, which is regularly grazed by livestock. The most common
tree native to
Iceland is the northern birch (Betula pubescens), which
formerly formed forests over much of Iceland, along with aspens
(Populus tremula), rowans (Sorbus aucuparia), common junipers
(Juniperus communis), and other smaller trees, mainly willows.
When the island was first settled, it was extensively forested. In the
late 12th century,
Ari the Wise described it in the
"forested from mountain to sea shore". Permanent human settlement
greatly disturbed the isolated ecosystem of thin, volcanic soils and
limited species diversity. The forests were heavily exploited over the
centuries for firewood and timber. Deforestation, climatic
deterioration during the Little Ice Age, and overgrazing by sheep
imported by settlers caused a loss of critical topsoil due to erosion.
Today, many farms have been abandoned. Three-quarters of Iceland's
100,000 square kilometres is affected by soil erosion, 18,000 km2
(6,900 sq mi) serious enough to make the land useless.
Only a few small birch stands now exist in isolated reserves. The
planting of new forests has increased the number of trees, but the
result does not compare to the original forests. Some of the planted
forests include introduced species. The tallest tree in
a sitka spruce planted in 1949 in Kirkjubæjarklaustur; it was
measured at 25.2 m (83 ft) in 2013.
The animals of
Iceland include the Icelandic sheep, cattle, chickens,
goats, the sturdy Icelandic horse, and the Icelandic Sheepdog, all
descendants of animals imported by Europeans. Wild mammals include the
Arctic fox, mink, mice, rats, rabbits, and reindeer. Polar bears
occasionally visit the island, travelling on icebergs from Greenland.
In June 2008, two polar bears arrived in the same month. Marine
mammals include the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) and harbor seal
(Phoca vitulina). Many species of fish live in the ocean waters
surrounding Iceland, and the fishing industry is a major part of
Iceland's economy, accounting for roughly half of the country's total
exports. Birds, especially seabirds, are an important part of
Iceland's animal life. Puffins, skuas, and kittiwakes nest on its sea
Commercial whaling is practised intermittently along with
scientific whale hunts. Whale watching has become an important
part of Iceland's economy since 1997.
Main article: Politics of Iceland
The political system of Iceland
Iceland has a left–right multi-party system. Following the 2017
parliamentary election, the biggest parties are the centre-right
Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn), the Left-Green Movement
(Vinstrihreyfingin – grænt framboð) and the Progressive Party
(Framsóknarflokkurinn). These three parties form the current ruling
coalition in the cabinet led by leftist Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Other
political parties with seats in the
Althing (Parliament) are the
Social Democratic Alliance
Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), the Centre Party
(Miðflokkurinn), Iceland's Pirates, the People's Party (Flokkur
fólksins), and the Reform Party (Viðreisn).
Iceland was the first country in the world to have a political party
formed and led entirely by women. Known as the Women's List or
Women's Alliance (Kvennalistinn), it was founded in 1983 to advance
the political, economic, and social needs of women. After
participating in its first parliamentary elections, the Women's List
helped increase the proportion of female parliamentarians by 15%.
Although it disbanded in 1999, merging with the Social Democratic
Alliance, it left a lasting influence on Iceland's politics: every
major party has a 40% quota for women, and in 2009 nearly a third of
members of parliament were female, compared to the global average of
16%. Following the 2016 elections, 48% of members of parliament
Iceland was ranked 2nd in the strength of its democratic
institutions and 13th in government transparency. The country
has a high level of civic participation, with 81.4% voter turnout
during the most recent elections, compared to an
OECD average of
72%. However, only 50% of
Icelanders say they trust their political
institutions, slightly less than the
OECD average of 56% (and most
probably a consequence of the political scandals in the wake of the
Icelandic financial crisis).
See also: Government of Iceland
The Parliament of
Iceland in Reykjavík
Cabinet of Iceland
Cabinet of Iceland and the Prime Minister's Office in Reykjavík
A 19th-century depiction of the
Alþingi of the Commonwealth in
session at Þingvellir
Iceland is a representative democracy and a parliamentary republic.
The modern parliament,
Alþingi (English: Althing), was founded in
1845 as an advisory body to the Danish monarch. It was widely seen as
a re-establishment of the assembly founded in 930 in the Commonwealth
period and suspended in 1799. Consequently, "it is arguably the
world's oldest parliamentary democracy." It currently has 63
members, elected for a maximum period of four years. The president
is elected by popular vote for a term of four years, with no term
limit. The elections for president, the Althing, and local municipal
councils are all held separately every four years.
The president of
Iceland is a largely ceremonial head of state and
serves as a diplomat, but may veto laws voted by the parliament and
put them to a national referendum. The current president is Guðni
Th. Jóhannesson. The head of government is the prime minister who,
together with the cabinet, is responsible for executive government.
The cabinet is appointed by the president after a general election to
the Althing; however, the appointment is usually negotiated by the
leaders of the political parties, who decide among themselves after
discussions which parties can form the cabinet and how to distribute
its seats, under the condition that it has a majority support in the
Althing. Only when the party leaders are unable to reach a conclusion
by themselves within a reasonable time span does the president
exercise this power and appoint the cabinet personally. This has not
happened since the republic was founded in 1944, but in 1942 regent
Sveinn Björnsson, who had been installed in that position by the
Althing in 1941, appointed a non-parliamentary government. The regent
had, for all practical purposes, the position of a president, and
Sveinn would later become the country's first president in 1944.
The governments of
Iceland have always been coalition governments,
with two or more parties involved, as no single political party has
ever received a majority of seats in the
Althing throughout the
republican period. The extent of the political power possessed by the
office of the president is disputed by legal scholars[which?], in
Iceland; several provisions of the constitution appear to give the
president some important powers, but other provisions and traditions
suggest differently. In 1980,
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir as president, the world's first directly
elected female head of state. She retired from office in 1996. In
Iceland became the first country with an openly gay head of
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became prime minister.
Main article: Administrative divisions of Iceland
Iceland is divided into regions, constituencies and municipalities.
The eight regions are primarily used for statistical purposes.
District court jurisdictions also use an older version of this
division. Until 2003, the constituencies for the parliamentary
elections were the same as the regions, but by an amendment to the
constitution, they were changed to the current six constituencies:
Reykjavík North and
Reykjavík South (city regions);
Southwest (four non-contiguous suburban areas around Reykjavík);
Northwest and Northeast (northern half of Iceland, split); and,
South (southern half of Iceland, excluding
Reykjavík and suburbs).
The redistricting change was made to balance the weight of different
districts of the country, since previously a vote cast in the sparsely
populated areas around the country would count much more than a vote
cast in the
Reykjavík city area. The imbalance between districts has
been reduced by the new system, but still exists.
74 municipalities in
Iceland govern local matters like schools,
transport, and zoning. These are the actual second-level
subdivisions of Iceland, as the constituencies have no relevance
except in elections and for statistical purposes.
Reykjavík is by far
the most populous municipality, about four times more populous than
Kópavogur, the second one.
Regions of Iceland
Constituencies of Iceland
Municipalities of Iceland
Nordic prime ministers and the president of
Finland visiting the White
House in 2016, with Iceland's Sigurður second from the left.
Foreign relations of Iceland
Foreign relations of Iceland and Accession of Iceland
to the European Union
Iceland, which is a member of the UN, NATO, EFTA, Council of Europe
and OECD, maintains diplomatic and commercial relations with
practically all nations, but its ties with the Nordic countries,
Germany, the United States,
Canada and the other
NATO nations are
particularly close. Historically, due to cultural, economic and
Iceland is a Nordic country, and it
participates in intergovernmental cooperation through the Nordic
Iceland is a member of the
European Economic Area
European Economic Area (EEA), which allows
the country access to the single market of the
European Union (EU). It
was not a member of the EU, but in July 2009 the Icelandic parliament,
the Althing, voted in favour of application for EU membership and
officially applied on 17 July 2009. However, in 2013, opinion
polls showed that many
Icelanders were now against joining the EU;
following 2013 elections the two parties that formed the island's new
government – the centrist Progressive Party and the right-wing
Independence Party – announced they would hold a referendum on EU
Military of Iceland
Iceland has no standing army, but the
Icelandic Coast Guard
Icelandic Coast Guard which also
Iceland Air Defence System, and an
Response Unit to support peacekeeping missions, perform paramilitary
Iceland Defense Force
Iceland Defense Force (IDF) was a military command of the United
States Armed Forces from 1951 to 2006. The IDF, created at the request
of NATO, came into existence when the United States signed an
agreement to provide for the defense of Iceland. The IDF also
consisted of civilian
Icelanders and military members of other NATO
nations. The IDF was downsized after the end of the
Cold War and the
U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force maintained four to six interceptor aircraft at the
Naval Air Station Keflavik, until they were withdrawn on 30 September
2006. Since May 2008,
NATO nations have periodically deployed fighters
to patrol Icelandic airspace under the Icelandic Air Policing
Iceland supported the
2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq despite
much domestic controversy, deploying a Coast Guard EOD team to
Iraq, which was replaced later by members of the
Iceland has also participated in the ongoing conflict
in Afghanistan and the 1999
NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Despite the
ongoing financial crisis the first new patrol ship in decades was
launched on 29 April 2009.
Iceland was the neutral host of the historic 1986 Reagan–Gorbachev
summit in Reykjavík, which set the stage for the end of the Cold War.
Iceland's principal historical international disputes involved
disagreements over fishing rights. Conflict with the
United Kingdom led to a series of so-called
Cod Wars, which included
confrontations between the
Icelandic Coast Guard
Icelandic Coast Guard and the Royal Navy
over British fishermen, in 1952–1956 due to the extension of
Iceland's fishing zone from 3 to 4 nmi (5.6 to 7.4 km; 3.5
to 4.6 mi), 1958–1961 following a further extension to
12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi), 1972–1973 with another
extension to 50 nmi (92.6 km; 57.5 mi); and in
1975–1976 another extension to 200 nmi (370.4 km;
230.2 mi).
According to the Global Peace Index,
Iceland is the most peaceful
country in the world, due to its lack of armed forces, low crime rate,
and high level of socio-political stability.
Iceland is listed in
Guinness Records Book as "Country ranked most at peace" and "Lowest
military spending per capita".
Akureyri is the largest town in
Iceland outside the Capital Region.
Most rural towns are based on the fishing industry, which provides 40%
of Iceland's exports
Main article: Economy of Iceland
Iceland was the seventh most productive country in the world
per capita (US$54,858), and the fifth most productive by GDP at
purchasing power parity ($40,112). About 85 percent of total primary
energy supply in
Iceland is derived from domestically produced
renewable energy sources. Utilization of abundant hydroelectric
and geothermal power has made
Iceland the world's largest electricity
producer per capita. As a result of its commitment to renewable
energy, the 2016 Global Green Economy Index ranked
Iceland among the
top 10 greenest economies in the world. Historically, Iceland's
economy depended heavily on fishing, which still provides 40% of
export earnings and employs 7% of the work force. The economy is
vulnerable to declining fish stocks and drops in world prices for its
main material exports: fish and fish products, aluminium, and
Whaling in Iceland
Whaling in Iceland has been historically significant.
Iceland still relies heavily on fishing, but its importance is
diminishing from an export share of 90% in the 1960s to 40% in
Until the 20th century,
Iceland was among the poorest countries in
Europe. Currently, it remains one of the most developed countries in
the world. Strong economic growth had led
Iceland to be ranked first
in the United Nations'
Human Development Index
Human Development Index report for
2007/2008, although in 2011 its HDI rating had fallen to 14th place
as a result of the economic crisis. Nevertheless, according to the
Economist Intelligence Index of 2011,
Iceland has the 2nd highest
quality of life in the world. Based on the Gini coefficient,
Iceland also has one of the lowest rates of income inequality in the
world, and when adjusted for inequality, its HDI ranking climbs
to 5th place. Iceland's unemployment rate has declined
consistently since the crisis, with 4.8% of the labour force being
unemployed as of June 2012, compared to 6% in 2011 and 8.1% in
Many political parties remain opposed to EU membership, primarily due
to Icelanders' concern about losing control over their natural
resources (particularly fisheries). The national currency of
Iceland is the
Icelandic króna (ISK).
Iceland is the only country in
the world to have a population under two million yet still have a
floating exchange rate and an independent monetary policy.
A poll released on 5 March 2010 by Capacent Gallup showed that 31% of
respondents were in favour of adopting the euro and 69% opposed.
Another Capacent Gallup poll conducted in February 2012 found that
Icelanders would reject EU membership in a referendum.
Graphical depiction of Iceland's product exports in 28 colour-coded
Iceland's economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service
industries in the last decade, including software production,
biotechnology, and finance; industry accounts for around a quarter of
economic activity, while services comprise close to 70%. The
tourism sector is expanding, especially in ecotourism and
whale-watching. On average,
Iceland receives around 1.1 million
visitors annually, which is more than three times the native
population. 1.7 million people visited
Iceland in 2016, 3 times
more than the number that came in 2010.  Iceland's agriculture
industry, accounting for 5.4% of GDP, consists mainly of potatoes,
green vegetables (in greenhouses), mutton and dairy products. The
financial centre is
Borgartún in Reykjavík, which hosts a large
number of companies and three investment banks. Iceland's stock
Iceland Stock Exchange (ISE), was established in
Iceland is ranked 27th in the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, lower
than in prior years but still among the freest in the world. As
of 2016[update], it ranks 29th in the World Economic Forum's Global
Competitive Index, one place lower than in 2015. According to
INSEAD's Global Innovation Index,
Iceland is the 11th most innovative
country in the world. Unlike most Western European countries,
Iceland has a flat tax system: the main personal income tax rate is a
flat 22.75%, and combined with municipal taxes, the total tax rate
equals no more than 35.7%, not including the many deductions that are
available. The corporate tax rate is a flat 18%, one of the
lowest in the world. There is also a value added tax, whereas a
net wealth tax was eliminated in 2006. Employment regulations are
relatively flexible and the labour market is one of the freest in the
world. Property rights are strong and
Iceland is one of the few
countries where they are applied to fishery management. Like
other welfare states, taxpayers pay various subsidies to each other,
but with spending being less than in most European countries.
Despite low tax rates, agricultural assistance is the highest among
OECD countries and a potential impediment to structural change. Also,
health care and education spending have relatively poor returns by
OECD measures, though improvements have been made in both areas. The
OECD Economic Survey of
Iceland 2008 had highlighted Iceland's
challenges in currency and macroeconomic policy. There was a
currency crisis that started in the spring of 2008, and on 6 October
trading in Iceland's banks was suspended as the government battled to
save the economy. An assessment by the
OECD 2011 determined
Iceland has made progress in many areas, particularly in creating
a sustainable fiscal policy and restoring the health of the financial
sector; however, challenges remain in making the fishing industry more
efficient and sustainable, as well as in improving monetary policy to
address inflation. Iceland's public debt has decreased since the
economic crisis, and as of 2015[update] is the 31th highest in the
world by proportion of national GDP.
Main article: 2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis
Iceland had been hit especially hard by the
Great Recession that began
in December 2007, because of the failure of its banking system and a
subsequent economic crisis. Before the crash of the country's three
largest banks, Glitnir,
Landsbanki and Kaupthing, their combined debt
exceeded approximately six times the nation's gross domestic product
of €14 billion ($19 billion). In October 2008,
the Icelandic parliament passed emergency legislation to minimise the
impact of the financial crisis. The Financial Supervisory Authority of
Iceland used permission granted by the emergency legislation to take
over the domestic operations of the three largest banks.
Icelandic officials, including central bank governor Davíð Oddsson,
stated that the state did not intend to take over any of the banks'
foreign debts or assets. Instead, new banks were established to take
on the domestic operations of the banks, and the old banks will be run
On 28 October 2008, the Icelandic government raised interest rates to
18% (as of August 2010, it was 7%), a move forced in part by the terms
of acquiring a loan from
International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund (IMF). After the
rate hike, trading on the
Icelandic króna finally resumed on the open
market, with valuation at around 250 ISK per Euro, less than one-third
the value of the 1:70 exchange rate during most of 2008, and a
significant drop from the 1:150 exchange ratio of the week before. On
20 November 2008, the
Nordic countries agreed to lend Iceland
On 26 January 2009, the coalition government collapsed due to the
public dissent over the handling of the financial crisis. A new
left-wing government was formed a week later and immediately set about
removing Central Bank governor
Davíð Oddsson and his aides from the
bank through changes in law. Davíð was removed on 26 February 2009
in the wake of protests outside the Central Bank.
Icelanders have moved from the country after the
collapse, and many of those moved to Norway. In 2005, 293 people moved
Iceland to Norway; in 2009, the figure was 1,625. In April
2010, the Icelandic Parliament‘s
Special Investigation Commission
published the findings of its investigation, revealing the extent
of control fraud in this crisis. By June 2012,
to repay about half of the Icesave debt.
According to Bloomberg,
Iceland is on the trajectory of 2%
unemployment as a result of crisis-management decisions made back in
2008, including allowing the banks to fail.
The Ring Road of
Iceland and some towns it passes through: 1.
Reykjavík, 2. Borgarnes, 3. Blönduós, 4. Akureyri, 5. Egilsstaðir,
6. Höfn, 7. Selfoss
Main article: Transport in Iceland
Iceland has a high level of car ownership per capita; with a car for
every 1.5 inhabitants; it is the main form of transport. Iceland
has 13,034 km (8,099 mi) of administered roads, of which
4,617 km (2,869 mi) are paved and 8,338 km
(5,181 mi) are not. A great number of roads remain unpaved,
mostly little-used rural roads. The road speed limits are 30 km/h
(19 mph) and 50 km/h (31 mph) in towns, 80 km/h
(50 mph) on gravel country roads and 90 km/h (56 mph)
on hard-surfaced roads.
Route 1, or the Ring Road (Icelandic: Þjóðvegur 1 or Hringvegur),
was completed in 1974, and is a main road that runs around
connects all the inhabited parts of the island, with the interior of
the island being uninhabited. This paved road is 1,332 km
(828 mi) long with one lane in each direction, except near
larger towns and cities and in the
Hvalfjörður Tunnel (also the site
of a toll) where it has more lanes. Many bridges on it, especially in
the north and east, are single lane and made of timber and/or steel.
Keflavík International Airport
Keflavík International Airport (KEF)  is the largest airport and
the main aviation hub for international passenger transport. It serves
several international and domestic airline companies. KEF is in
the vicinity of the larger metropolitan capital areas, 49 km
(30 mi)  to the WSW of
Reykjavík center, reachable only by
bus services and passenger cars.
Iceland has no passenger
Reykjavík Airport (RKV)  is the second largest airport located
just 1,5 km from the capital centre. RKV serves general aviation
traffic and has daily- or regular domestic flights to 12 local
townships within Iceland. RKV also serves international flights
Greenland and the Faroe Islands, business and private airplanes
along with aviation training.
Akureyri Airport (AEY)  and
Egilsstaðir Airport (EGS)  are
two other domestic airports with limited international service
capacity. There are a total of 103 registered airports and airfields
in Iceland; most of them are unpaved and located in rural areas. The
second longest runway is at Geitamelur, a four-runway glider field
around 100 km (62 mi) east of Reykjavík.
Six main ferry services provide regular access to various outpost
communities or shorten travel
distances.[better source needed]
Renewable energy in Iceland
Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station
Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station services the Capital Region's
hot water and electricity needs. Virtually all of Iceland's
electricity comes from renewable resources.
Renewable sources—geothermal and hydropower—provide effectively
all of Iceland's electricity and around 85% of the nation's total
primary energy consumption, with most of the remainder consisting
of imported oil products used in transportation and in the fishing
Iceland expects to be energy-independent by 2050.
Iceland's largest geothermal power plants are Hellisheiði and
Nesjavellir, while Kárahnjúkar
Hydropower Plant is the
country's largest hydroelectric power station. When the
Kárahnjúkavirkjun started operating,
Iceland became the world's
largest electricity producer per capita.
Icelanders emit 6.29 tonnes of CO2 in 2009 equivalent of
greenhouse gases per capita.
Iceland is one of the few countries
that have filling stations dispensing hydrogen fuel for cars powered
by fuel cells. It is also one of a few countries currently capable of
producing hydrogen in adequate quantities at a reasonable cost,
because of Iceland's plentiful renewable sources of energy.
On 22 January 2009,
Iceland announced its first round of offshore
licences for companies wanting to conduct hydrocarbon exploration and
production in a region northeast of Iceland, known as the Dreki
area. Two exploration licenses have been awarded.
Iceland was noted by
Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records as "The Greenest
Country", reaching highest score by the Environmental Sustainability
Index which measures a country's water use, biodiversity and adoption
of clean energies with a score of 93.5/100.
As of 2012[update], the government of
Iceland is in talks with the
government of the
United Kingdom about the possibility of constructing
a high-voltage direct-current connector for transmission of
electricity between the two countries. Such a cable would give
Iceland access to a market where electricity prices have generally
been much higher than those in Iceland.
Iceland has considerable
renewable energy resources, especially geothermal energy and
hydropower resources, and most of the potential has not been
developed, partly because there is not enough demand for additional
electricity generation capacity from the residents and industry of
Iceland, but the
United Kingdom is interested in importing inexpensive
electricity from renewable sources of energy, and this could lead to
further development of the energy resources.
Education and science
See also: Education in Iceland
Reykjavík Junior College (Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík), located in
downtown Reykjavík, is the oldest gymnasium in Iceland
The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture is responsible for the
policies and methods that schools must use, and they issue the
National Curriculum Guidelines. However, playschools, primary schools,
and lower secondary schools are funded and administered by the
municipalities. The government does allow citizens to Home educate
their children, however under a very strict set of demands.
Students must adhere closely to the government mandated curriculum,
and the parent teaching must acquire a government approved teaching
Nursery school, or leikskóli, is non-compulsory education for
children younger than six years, and is the first step in the
education system. The current legislation concerning playschools was
passed in 1994. They are also responsible for ensuring that the
curriculum is suitable so as to make the transition into compulsory
education as easy as possible.
Compulsory education, or grunnskóli, comprises primary and lower
secondary education, which often is conducted at the same institution.
Education is mandatory by law for children aged from 6 to
16 years. The school year lasts nine months, beginning between 21
August and 1 September, ending between 31 May and 10 June. The minimum
number of school days was once 170, but after a new teachers' wage
contract, it increased to 180. Lessons take place five days a week.
All public schools have mandatory education in Christianity, although
an exemption may be considered by the Minister of Education.
Upper secondary education, or framhaldsskóli, follows lower secondary
education. These schools are also known as gymnasia in English. Though
not compulsory, everyone who has had a compulsory education has the
right to upper secondary education. This stage of education is
governed by the Upper Secondary School Act of 1996. All schools in
Iceland are mixed sex schools. The largest seat of higher education is
the University of Iceland, which has its main campus in central
Reykjavík. Other schools offering university-level instruction
Reykjavík University, University of Akureyri, Agricultural
University of Iceland
University of Iceland and Bifröst University.
OECD assessment found 64% of
Icelanders aged 25–64 have earned
the equivalent of a high-school degree, which is lower than the OECD
average of 73%. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, only 69% have earned the
equivalent of a high-school degree, significantly lower than the OECD
average of 80%. Nevertheless, Iceland's education system is
considered excellent: the Programme for International Student
Assessment currently ranks it as the 16th best performing, above the
OECD average. Students were particularly proficient in reading
According to a 2013
Eurostat report by the European Commission,
Iceland spends around 3.11% of its GDP on scientific research and
development (R&D), over 1 percentage point higher than the EU
average of 2.03%, and has set a target of 4% to reach by 2020. A
UNESCO report found that out of 72 countries that spend the most
on R&D (100 million US dollars or more),
Iceland ranked 9th
by proportion of GDP, tied with Taiwan, Switzerland, and
ahead of France, the UK, and Canada.
For statistics on demographics, see Demographics of Iceland.
See also: Icelanders
Reykjavík, Iceland's largest metropolitan area and the centre of the
Capital Region which, with a population of 200,000, makes for 64% of
The original population of
Iceland was of Nordic and Gaelic origin.
This is evident from literary evidence dating from the settlement
period as well as from later scientific studies such as blood type and
genetic analyses. One such genetic study indicated that the majority
of the male settlers were of Nordic origin while the majority of the
women were of Gaelic origin, meaning many settlers of
Norsemen who brought Gaelic slaves with them.
Iceland has extensive genealogical records dating back to the late
17th century and fragmentary records extending back to the Age of
Settlement. The biopharmaceutical company deCODE genetics has funded
the creation of a genealogy database that is intended to cover all of
Iceland's known inhabitants. It views the database, called
Íslendingabók, as a valuable tool for conducting research on genetic
diseases, given the relative isolation of Iceland's population.
The population of the island is believed to have varied from 40,000 to
60,000 in the period ranging from initial settlement until the
mid-19th century. During that time, cold winters, ash fall from
volcanic eruptions, and bubonic plagues adversely affected the
population several times. There were 37 famine years in Iceland
between 1500 and 1804. The first census was carried out in 1703
and revealed that the population was then 50,358. After the
destructive volcanic eruptions of the
Laki volcano during 1783–1784,
the population reached a low of about 40,000. Improving living
conditions have triggered a rapid increase in population since the
mid-19th century—from about 60,000 in 1850 to 320,000 in 2008.
Iceland has a relatively young population for a developed country,
with one out of five people being 14 years old or younger. With a
fertility rate of 2.1,
Iceland is one of only a few European countries
with a birth rate sufficient for long-term population growth (see
table on the left).
In December 2007, 33,678 people (13.5% of the total population) living
Iceland had been born abroad, including children of Icelandic
parents living abroad. Around 19,000 people (6% of the population)
held foreign citizenship. Polish people make up the largest minority
group by a considerable margin, and still form the bulk of the foreign
workforce. About 8,000 Poles now live in Iceland, 1,500 of them in
Fjarðabyggð where they make up 75% of the workforce who are
constructing the Fjarðarál aluminium plant. The recent increase
in immigration has been credited[by whom?] to a labour shortage due to
the booming economy at the time, as well as to the lifting of
restrictions on the movement of people from the countries that were a
part of the 2004 enlargement of the European Union.
Large-scale construction projects in the east of
Hydropower Plant) have also brought in many people whose
stay is expected to be temporary. Many Polish immigrants were also
considering leaving in 2008 as a result of the Icelandic financial
The southwest corner of
Iceland is the most densely populated region.
It is also the location of the capital Reykjavík, the northernmost
national capital in the world. The largest towns outside the Greater
Reykjavík area are
Akureyri and Reykjanesbær, although the latter is
relatively close to the capital.
Icelanders under the leadership of
Erik the Red
Erik the Red colonised
Greenland in the late 10th century, which until then was only
inhabited paleo-Eskimos. The total population reached a high
point of perhaps 5,000 and developed independent institutions before
disappearing by 1500. People from
Greenland attempted to set up a
Vinland in North America, but abandoned it in the face of
hostility from the indigenous residents.
Icelanders to the United States and
Canada began in the
1870s. As of 2006[update],
Canada had over 88,000 people of Icelandic
descent, while there are more than 40,000 Americans of Icelandic
descent, according to the 2000 US census.
Iceland's 10 most populous urban areas:
Largest cities or towns in Iceland
Languages of Iceland
Languages of Iceland and Icelandic language
See also: Icelandic name
Iceland's official written and spoken language is Icelandic, a North
Germanic language descended from Old Norse. In grammar and vocabulary,
it has changed less from
Old Norse than the other Nordic languages;
Icelandic has preserved more verb and noun inflection, and has to a
considerable extent developed new vocabulary based on native roots
rather than borrowings from other languages. The puristic tendency in
the development of Icelandic vocabulary is to a large degree a result
of conscious language planning, in addition to centuries of isolation.
Icelandic is the only living language to retain the use of the runic
Þ in Latin script. The closest living relative of the
Icelandic language is Faroese.
Icelandic Sign Language
Icelandic Sign Language was officially recognised as a minority
language in 2011. In education, its use for Iceland's deaf community
is regulated by the National Curriculum Guide.
English and Danish are compulsory subjects in the school curriculum.
Both languages are widely understood and spoken. Other commonly
spoken languages are Swedish, Norwegian, German and French. Polish is
mostly spoken by the local Polish community (the largest minority of
Iceland), and Danish is mostly spoken in a way largely comprehensible
to Swedes and Norwegians—it is often referred to as skandinavíska
(i. e. Scandinavian) in Iceland.
Rather than using family names, as is the usual custom in most Western
Icelanders carry patronymic or matronymic surnames, patronyms
being far more commonly practiced.
Patronymic last names are based on
the first name of the father, while matronymic names are based on the
first name of the mother. These follow the person's given name, e.g.
Elísabet Jónsdóttir ("Elísabet, Jón's daughter" (Jón, being the
father)) or Ólafur Katrínarson ("Ólafur, Katrín's son" (Katrín
being the mother)). Consequently,
Icelanders refer to one another
by their given name, and the Icelandic telephone directory is listed
alphabetically by first name rather than by surname. All new
names must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee.
Iceland has a universal health care system that is administered by its
Ministry of Welfare (Icelandic: Velferðarráðuneytið) and paid
for mostly by taxes (85%) and to a lesser extent by service fees
(15%). Unlike most countries, there are no private hospitals, and
private insurance is practically nonexistent.
A considerable portion of the government budget is assigned to health
Iceland ranks 11th in health care expenditures as a
percentage of GDP and 14th in spending per capita. Overall,
the country's health care system is one of the best performing in the
world, ranked 15th by the World Health Organization. According to
Iceland devotes far more resources to healthcare than
most industrialised nations. As of 2009[update],
Iceland had 3.7
doctors per 1,000 people (compared with an average of 3.1 in OECD
countries) and 15.3 nurses per 1,000 people (compared with an OECD
average of 8.4).
Icelanders are among the world's healthiest people, with 81% reporting
they are in good health, according to an
OECD survey. Although it
is a growing problem, obesity is not as prevalent as in other
Iceland has many campaigns for health and
wellbeing, including the famous television show Lazytown, starring and
created by former gymnastics champion Magnus Scheving. Infant
mortality is one of the lowest in the world, and the proportion
of the population that smokes is lower than the
Almost all women choose to terminate pregnancies of children with Down
syndrome in Iceland. The average life expectancy is 81.8
(compared to an
OECD average of 79.5), the 4th highest in the
Iceland has a very low level of pollution, thanks to an
overwhelming reliance on cleaner geothermal energy, a low population
density, and a high level of environmental consciousness among
citizens. According to an
OECD assessment, the amount of toxic
materials in the atmosphere is far lower than in any other
industrialised country measured.
Main article: Religion in Iceland
Affiliation by religious movement (1 January 2017)
Church of Iceland
Other and not specified
A church in the northwest of Iceland
Icelanders have freedom of religion guaranteed under the Constitution,
although the Church of Iceland, a Lutheran body, is the state church:
The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the State Church in Iceland
and, as such, it shall be supported and protected by the State.
— Article 62, Section IV of Constitution of Iceland
Iceland keeps account of the religious affiliation of
every Icelandic citizen. In 2015,
Icelanders were divided into
religious groups as follows:
69.89% members of the Church of Iceland;
11.67% members of some other Christian denomination;
9.27% other religions and not specified;
1.07% members of Germanic Heathen groups (99% of them belonging to
0.84% members of Zuist groups;
0.53% members of the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association.
Iceland is a very secular country; as with other Nordic nations,
religious attendance is relatively low. The above statistics
represent administrative membership of religious organisations, which
does not necessarily reflect the belief demographics of the
population. According to a study published in 2001, 23% of the
inhabitants were either atheist or agnostic. A Gallup poll
conducted in 2012 found that 57% of
Icelanders considered themselves
"religious", 31% considered themselves "non-religious", while 10%
defined themselves as "convinced atheists", placing
Iceland among the
ten countries with the highest proportions of atheists in the
world. The proportion registered in the official Church of
Iceland is declining rapidly, more than 1% per year (the Church of
Iceland has declined from 80% in 2010 to less than 70% in
Main article: Culture of Iceland
Icelandic culture has its roots in North Germanic traditions.
Icelandic literature is popular, in particular the sagas and eddas
that were written during the High and Late Middle Ages. Centuries of
isolation have helped to insulate the country's Nordic culture from
external influence; a prominent example is the preservation of the
Icelandic language, which remains the closest to
Old Norse of all
modern Nordic languages.
In contrast to other Nordic countries,
Icelanders place relatively
great importance on independence and self-sufficiency; in a public
opinion analysis conducted by the European Commission, over 85% of
Icelanders believe independence is "very important," compared to 47%
of Norwegians, 49% of Danes, and an average of 53% for the EU25.
Icelanders also have a very strong work ethic, working some of the
longest hours of any industrialised nation.
According to a poll conducted by the OECD, 66% of
satisfied with their lives, while 70% believed that their lives will
be satisfying in the future. Similarly, 83% reported having more
positive experiences in an average day than negative ones, compared to
OECD average of 72%, which makes
Iceland one of the happiest
countries in the OECD. A more recent 2012 survey found that around
three quarters of respondents stated they were satisfied with their
lives, compared to a global average of about 53%.
Iceland is liberal with regard to
LGBT rights issues. In 1996, the
Icelandic parliament passed legislation to create registered
partnerships for same-sex couples, conferring nearly all the rights
and benefits of marriage. In 2006, parliament voted unanimously to
grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in
adoption, parenting and assisted insemination treatment. On 11 June
2010, the Icelandic parliament amended the marriage law, making it
gender neutral and defining marriage as between two individuals,
Iceland one of the first countries in the world to legalise
same-sex marriages. The law took effect on 27 June 2010. The
amendment to the law also means registered partnerships for same-sex
couples are now no longer possible, and marriage is their only
option—identical to the existing situation for opposite-sex
Icelanders are known for their deep sense of community: An
found that 98% believe they know someone they could rely on in a time
of need, higher than in any other industrialised country. Similarly,
only 6% reported "rarely" or "never" socializing with others. This
high level of social cohesion is attributed to the small size and
homogeneity of the population, as well as to a long history of harsh
survival in an isolated environment, which reinforced the importance
of unity and cooperation.
Egalitarianism is highly valued among the people of Iceland, with
income inequality being among the lowest in the world. The
constitution explicitly prohibits the enactment of noble privileges,
titles, and ranks. Everyone is addressed by their first name. As
in other Nordic countries, equality between the sexes is very high;
Iceland is consistently ranked among the top three countries in the
world for women to live in.
Main article: Icelandic literature
In 2011, Reykjavik was designated a
UNESCO City of Literature.
A page of
Njáls saga from Möðruvallabók. The sagas are a
significant part of the Icelandic heritage
Iceland's best-known classical works of literature are the Icelanders'
sagas, prose epics set in Iceland's age of settlement. The most famous
of these include Njáls saga, about an epic blood feud, and
Grænlendinga saga and Eiríks saga, describing the discovery and
Vinland (modern Newfoundland). Egils saga,
Laxdæla saga, Grettis saga,
Gísla saga and Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu
are also notable and popular Icelanders' sagas.
A translation of the Bible was published in the 16th century.
Important compositions since the 15th to the 19th century include
sacred verse, most famously the
Passion Hymns of Hallgrímur
Pétursson, and rímur, rhyming epic poems. Originating in the 14th
century, rímur were popular into the 19th century, when the
development of new literary forms was provoked by the influential,
National-Romantic writer Jónas Hallgrímsson. In recent times,
Iceland has produced many great writers, the best-known of whom is
arguably Halldór Laxness, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature
in 1955 (the only Icelander to win a Nobel Prize thus far). Steinn
Steinarr was an influential modernist poet during the early 20th
century who remains popular.
Icelanders are avid consumers of literature, with the highest number
of bookstores per capita in the world. For its size,
and translates more international literature than any other
Iceland also has the highest per capita publication of
books and magazines, and around 10% of the population will
publish a book in their lifetimes.
Most books in
Iceland are sold between late September to early
November. This time period is known as Jolabokaflod, the Christmas
Book Flood. The Flood begins with the
Association distributing Bokatidindi, a catalog of all new
publications, free to each Icelandic home.
Main article: Icelandic art
The distinctive rendition of the Icelandic landscape by its painters
can be linked to nationalism and the movement for home rule and
independence, which was very active in the mid-19th century.
Contemporary Icelandic painting is typically traced to the work of
Þórarinn Þorláksson, who, following formal training in art in the
1890s in Copenhagen, returned to
Iceland to paint and exhibit works
from 1900 to his death in 1924, almost exclusively portraying the
Icelandic landscape. Several other Icelandic men and women artists
Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts at that time, including
Ásgrímur Jónsson, who together with Þórarinn created a
distinctive portrayal of Iceland's landscape in a romantic
naturalistic style. Other landscape artists quickly followed in the
footsteps of Þórarinn and Ásgrímur. These included Jóhannes
Kjarval and Júlíana Sveinsdóttir. Kjarval in particular is noted
for the distinct techniques in the application of paint that he
developed in a concerted effort to render the characteristic volcanic
rock that dominates the Icelandic environment.
Einar Hákonarson is an
expressionistic and figurative painter who by some is considered to
have brought the figure back into Icelandic painting. In the 1980s,
many Icelandic artists worked with the subject of the new painting in
In the recent years artistic practice has multiplied, and the
Icelandic art scene has become a setting for many large scale projects
and exhibitions. The artist run gallery space Kling og Bang, members
of which later ran the studio complex and exhibition venue Klink og
Bank, has been a significant part of the trend of self-organised
spaces, exhibitions and projects. The Living Art Museum,
Reykjavík Municipal Art Museum,
Reykjavík Art Museum and the
National Gallery of Iceland
National Gallery of Iceland are the larger, more established
institutions, curating shows and festivals.
Þingvellir by Þórarinn B. Þorláksson
Thorfinn Karlsefni by Icelandic sculptor
Einar Jónsson in
Halldór Laxness by Einar Hákonarson, 1984
Traditional Icelandic turf houses. Until the 20th century, the vast
Icelanders lived in rural areas
The old building (Gamli Skóli) of the Menntaskóli, i.e. High School
precinct in Akureyri
Main article: Music of Iceland
Singer-songwriter Björk, the best-known Icelandic musician
Much Icelandic music is related to Nordic music, and includes folk and
pop traditions. Notable Icelandic music acts include medieval music
group Voces Thules, alternative and indie rock acts such as The
Sóley and Of Monsters and Men, jazz fusion band
Mezzoforte, pop singers such as Hafdís Huld,
Emilíana Torrini and
Björk, solo ballad singers like Bubbi Morthens, and post-rock bands
Amiina and Sigur Rós.
Independent music is strong in Iceland,
with bands such as múm and solo artists.
Traditional Icelandic music is strongly religious. Hymns, both
religious and secular, are a particularly well-developed form of
music, due to the scarcity of musical instruments throughout much of
Hallgrímur Pétursson wrote many Protestant hymns
in the 17th century. Icelandic music was modernised in the 19th
century, when Magnús Stephensen brought pipe organs, which were
followed by harmoniums. Other vital traditions of Icelandic music are
epic alliterative and rhyming ballads called rímur.
Rímur are epic
tales, usually a cappella, which can be traced back to skaldic poetry,
using complex metaphors and elaborate rhyme schemes. The best
known rímur poet of the 19th century was Sigurður Breiðfjörð
(1798–1846). A modern revitalisation of the tradition began in 1929
with the formation of Iðunn.[clarification needed]
Among Iceland's best-known classical composers are Daníel Bjarnason
Anna S. Þorvaldsdóttir
Anna S. Þorvaldsdóttir (Anna Thorvaldsdottir), who in 2012
Nordic Council Music Prize and in 2015 was chosen as the
New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer, an honor that
includes a $50,000 cash prize and a commission to write a composition
for the orchestra; she is the second recipient.
The national anthem of
Iceland is Lofsöngur, written by Matthías
Jochumsson, with music by Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson.
Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur, best known for the films 101
Reykjavík, Jar City and Contraband, and television series Trapped
Media of Iceland
Media of Iceland and Cinema of Iceland
Iceland's largest television stations are the state-run Sjónvarpið
and the privately owned
Stöð 2 and SkjárEinn. Smaller stations
exist, many of them local. Radio is broadcast throughout the country,
including some parts of the interior. The main radio stations are Rás
1, Rás 2, X-ið 977,
Bylgjan and FM957. The daily newspapers are
Morgunblaðið and Fréttablaðið. The most popular websites are the
Vísir and Mbl.is.
Iceland is home to
LazyTown (Icelandic: Latibær), a children's
television programme created by Magnús Scheving. It has become a very
popular programme for children and adults and is shown in over 100
countries, including the UK, the Americas and Sweden. The
LazyTown studios are located in Garðabær. The 2015 television crime
series Trapped aired in the UK on BBC4 in February and March 2016, to
critical acclaim and according to the Guardian "the unlikeliest TV hit
of the year".
In 1992 the Icelandic film industry achieved its greatest recognition
Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
Friðrik Þór Friðriksson was nominated for the
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for his Children of
Nature. It features the story of an old man who is unable to
continue running his farm. After being unwelcomed in his daughter's
and father-in-law's house in town, he is put in a home for the
elderly. There, he meets and old girlfriend of his youth and they both
begin a journey through the wilds of
Iceland to die together. This is
the only Icelandic movie to have ever been nominated for an Academy
Björk received international acclaim for her
starring role in the Danish musical drama
Dancer in the Dark
Dancer in the Dark directed
by Lars von Trier, in which she plays Selma Ježková, a factory
worker who struggles to pay for her son's eye operation. The film
premiered at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, where she won the Best
Actress Award. The movie also led
Björk to nominations for Best
Original Song at the 73rd Academy Awards, with the song I've Seen It
All and for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture
Guðrún S. Gísladóttir, who is Icelandic, played one of the major
roles in Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's 1986 film, The
Sacrifice. Anita Briem, known for her performance in Showtime's The
Tudors, is also Icelandic. Briem starred in the 2008 film Journey to
the Center of the Earth, which shot scenes in Iceland. The 2002 James
Die Another Day
Die Another Day is set for a large-part in Iceland.
Christopher Nolan's 2014 film, Interstellar was also filmed in Iceland
for some of its scenes, as was Ridley Scott's Prometheus.
On 17 June 2010, the parliament passed the Icelandic Modern Media
Initiative, proposing greater protection of free speech rights and the
identity of journalists and whistle-blowers—the strongest journalist
protection law in the world. According to a 2011 report by
Iceland is one of the highest ranked countries in press
CCP Games, developers of the critically acclaimed EVE Online and Dust
514, is headquartered in Reykjavík.
CCP Games hosts the third most
populated MMO in the world, which also has the largest total game area
for an online game.
Iceland has a highly developed internet culture, with around 95% of
the population having internet access, the highest proportion in the
Iceland ranked 12th in the World Economic Forum's
2009–2010 Network Readiness Index, which measures a country's
ability to competitively exploit communications technology. The
International Telecommunication Union
International Telecommunication Union ranks the country
3rd in its development of information and communications technology,
having moved up four places between 2008 and 2010. In February
2013 the country (ministry of the interior) was researching possible
methods to protect children in regards to Internet pornography,
claiming that pornography online is a threat to children as it
supports child slavery and abuse. Strong voices within the community
expressed concerns with this, stating that it is impossible to block
access to pornography without compromising freedom of
Icelandic cuisine and Þorramatur
Much of Iceland's cuisine is based on fish, lamb, and dairy products,
with little to no utilization of herbs or spices. Due to the island's
climate, fruits and vegetables are not generally a component of
traditional dishes, although the use of greenhouses has made them more
common in contemporary food.
Þorramatur is a selection of traditional
cuisine consisting of many dishes, and is usually consumed around the
month of Þorri, which begins on the first Friday after 19 January.
Traditional dishes also include skyr (a yoghurt-like cheese), hákarl
(cured shark), cured ram, singed sheep heads, and black pudding,
Flatkaka (flat bread), dried fish and dark rye bread traditionally
baked in the ground in geothermal areas.
Puffin is considered a
local delicacy that is often prepared through broiling.
Breakfast usually consists of pancakes, cereal, fruit, and coffee,
while lunch may take the form of a smörgåsbord. The main meal of the
day for most
Icelanders is dinner, which usually involves fish or lamb
as the main course. Seafood is central to most Icelandic cooking,
particularly cod and haddock but also salmon, herring, and halibut. It
is often prepared in a wide variety of ways, either smoked, pickled,
boiled, or dried. Lamb is by far the most common meat, and it tends to
be either smoke-cured (known as hangikjöt) or salt-preserved
(saltkjöt). Many older dishes make use of every part of the sheep,
such as slátur, which consists of offal (internal organs and
entrails) minced together with blood and served in sheep stomach.
Additionally, boiled or mashed potatoes, pickled cabbage, green beans,
and rye bread are prevalent side dishes.
Coffee is a popular beverage in Iceland, and is drunk at breakfast,
after meals, and with a light snack in mid-afternoon.
also widely consumed, to the extent that the country is said to have
one of the highest per capita consumption rates in the world.
Iceland's signature alcoholic beverage is brennivín (literally "burnt
[i.e., distilled] wine"), which is similar in flavouring to the
akvavit variant of Scandinavian brännvin. It is a type of schnapps
made from distilled potatoes and flavoured with either caraway seeds
or angelica. Its potency has earned it the nickname svarti dauði
("Black Death"). Modern distilleries on
Iceland produce vodka (Reyka),
gin (Ísafold), moss schnapps (Fjallagrasa), and a birch-flavoured
schnapps and liqueur (Foss Distillery’s Birkir and Björk). Martin
Miller blends Icelandic water with its England-distilled gin on the
island. Strong beer was banned until 1989, so bjórlíki, a mixture of
legal, low-alcohol pilsner beer and vodka, became popular. Several
strong beers are now made by Icelandic breweries.
Main article: Sport in Iceland
Iceland national handball team
Iceland national handball team (pictured) won the silver medal at
the 2008 Summer Olympics. Handball is considered Iceland's national
Sport is an important part of Icelandic culture, as the population is
generally quite active. The main traditional sport in
Glíma, a form of wrestling thought to have originated in medieval
Popular sports include association football, track and field, handball
and basketball. Handball is often referred to as the national
sport, and Iceland's men's national team is ranked among the top
20 in the world. The Icelandic national football team qualified
for the UEFA European football championship for the first time in 2016
and advanced to the quarter-final to play against France. They
defeated England 2–1 in the round of 16, with goals from Ragnar
Sigurðsson and Kolbeinn Sigþórsson. Following up on this,
Iceland qualified for the 2018
FIFA World Cup, the smallest nation
ever to accomplish this feat. The Icelandic women's team also excel at
football relative to the size of the country, with the national team
ranked 15th by FIFA. In 2014 the Icelandic men's national
basketball team qualified for the
EuroBasket 2015 for the first time
in the country history.
Iceland has excellent conditions for skiing, fishing, snowboarding,
ice climbing and rock climbing, although mountain climbing and hiking
are preferred by the general public.
Iceland is also a world-class
destination for alpine ski touring and Telemark skiing, with the Troll
Peninsula in Northern
Iceland being the main centre of activity.
Although the country's environment is generally ill-suited for golf,
there are nevertheless lots of golf courses throughout the island, and
Iceland has a greater percentage of the population playing golf than
Scotland with over 17,000 registered golfers out of a population of
Iceland hosts an annual international golf
tournament known as the
Arctic Open played through the night during
the summer solstice at
Akureyri Golf Club.
Iceland has also
won the most competitions for World's Strongest Man, with eight titles
shared evenly between
Magnús Ver Magnússon
Magnús Ver Magnússon and Jón Páll
Iceland is also one of the leading countries in ocean
rowing, Icelandic rower
Fiann Paul became the fastest and the most
record-breaking ocean rower. He has claimed overall speed Guinness
World Records for the fastest rowing all 4 oceans (Atlantic, Indian,
Pacific and Arctic) in a man-powered row boat, as well as the notable
Guinness title of the first rower to ever hold all 4 oceans records
simultaneously, claiming 18 Guinness
Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records in total
Iceland by 2017.
Swimming is popular in Iceland. Geothermally heated outdoor pools are
widespread, and swimming courses are a mandatory part of the national
curriculum. Horseback riding, which was historically the most
prevalent form of transportation on the island, remains a common
pursuit for many Icelanders.
The oldest sport association in
Iceland is the
Association, founded in 1867. Rifle shooting became very popular in
the 19th century with the encouragement of politicians and
nationalists who were pushing for Icelandic independence. To this day,
it remains a significant pastime.
Iceland has also produced many chess masters and hosted the historic
World Chess Championship 1972
World Chess Championship 1972 in
Reykjavík during the height of the
Cold War. As of 2008[update], there have been nine Icelandic chess
grandmasters, a considerable number given the small size of the
population. Bridge is also popular, with
Iceland participating in
a number of international tournaments.
Iceland won the world bridge
championship (the Bermuda Bowl) in Yokohama, Japan, in 1991 and took
second place (with Sweden) in Hamilton, Bermuda, in 1950.
Index of Iceland-related articles
Outline of Iceland
Icelandic constitutional reform, 2010-13
^ "Population by country of citizenship, sex and age 1 January
1998–2016". Reykjavík, Iceland: Statistics Iceland. Retrieved 27
^ "Constitution of Iceland". Government of Iceland. Retrieved 14
October 2014. Section VI deals with religion and Article 62
states "The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the State Church in
Iceland and, as such, it shall be supported and protected by the
State". In English, this church is commonly called the Church of
^ "Ísland er minna en talið var" (in Icelandic). RÚV. 26 February
2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
^ a b c d "Iceland". International Monetary Fund.
Gini coefficient of equivalised disposable income (source: SILC)".
Eurostat Data Explorer. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
^ a b c "2016 Human Development Report" (PDF). United Nations
Development Programme. 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
^ Interinstitutional Style Guide of the
European Union guidance on
Iceland reading "Do not use '
Republic of Iceland'. Although this name
is found in some documents, it does not have official status."
^ "Statistics Iceland". Government. The National Statistical Institute
of Iceland. 14 September 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2008.
^ a b Tomasson, Richard F. (1980). Iceland, the first new society. U
of Minnesota Press. p. 63. ISBN 0-8166-0913-6.
OECD Tax Database". Oecd.org. Archived from the original on 25
January 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
^ Ólafsson, Stefán (12 May 2004). "The Icelandic Welfare State and
the Conditions of Children". borg.hi.is. Archived from the original on
18 August 2005. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
^ Worstall, Tim. "If
Iceland Can Jail Bankers For The Crash Then Why
Can't America?". Forbes.
^ Greenstein, Tracey (20 February 2013). "Iceland's Stabilized Economy
Is A Surprising Success Story". Forbes. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
^ Mingels, Guido (10 January 2014). "Out of the Abyss: Looking for
Lessons in Iceland's Recovery". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 11 April
^ Bowers, Simon (6 November 2013). "
Iceland rises from the ashes of
banking collapse". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
Military Balance 2014. The International Institute of Strategic
Studies (IISS). 2014.
^ a b Evans, Andrew. "Is
Iceland Really Green and
National Geographic (June 30, 2016).
^ New View on the Origin of First Settlers in Iceland,
Online, 4 June 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
^ Hafstad, Vala (15 September 2016). "Major Archeological Find in
Iceland Review. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
^ The History of Viking
Iceland Archived 3 February 2012 at the
Wayback Machine., Ancient Worlds, 31 May 2008. Retrieved 10 November
Iceland and the history Archived 10 November 2013 at the Wayback
Machine., The Gardarsholm Project, 29 July 2012. Retrieved 10 November
^ Hvers vegna hefur Náttfara ekki verið hampað sem fyrsta
landnámsmanninum?, University of Iceland: The Science Web, 7 July
2008. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
^ Historical Dictionary of the Vikings By Katherine Holman p252
scarecrow press 2003 discusses that both Scottish and Irish slaves
were in Iceland
^ Kudeba, N. (19 April 2014). Chapter 5 – Norse Explorers from Erik
the Red to Leif Erikson – Canadian Explorers. Retrieved from The
History of Canada: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8
May 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
^ William P. Patterson, Kristin A. Dietrich, Chris Holmden, and John
T. Andrews (2010) Two millennia of North Atlantic seasonality and
implications for Norse colonies.
^ Magnusson, M. (2003) The Vikings. Tempus. ISBN 0752426990. pp.
^ Michael Strmiska. Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative
Perspectives. ABC-CLIO. p. 138.
History of Iceland
History of Iceland (Gunnar Karlsson) – book review".
Dannyreviews.com. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
^ Pulsiano, Phillip and Wolf, Kirsten (1993) Medieval Scandinavia: An
Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p. 312. ISBN 0-8240-4787-7
^ Maddicott, J. R. (2 June 2009). "6th–10th century AD – page
14 Past & Present". Findarticles.com. Archived from the original
on 1 October 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
^ Davis, Robert C. (2003). Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White
Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy,
1500–1800. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 7–.
^ One slaving expedition is inaccurately termed the Turkish Abductions
in Icelandic historiography. This was an expedition conducted by a
Dutch convert Murat Reis, and the captives were taken to the Barbary
Coast to sell.
^ "Iceland: Milestones in Icelandic History". Iceland.vefur.is.
Retrieved 10 February 2010.
^ Crosby Alfred W. (2004) Ecological imperialism: the biological
expansion of Europe, 900–1900. Cambridge University Press. p. 52.
^ "When a killer cloud hit Britain". BBC News. January 2007.
^ "How volcanoes can change the world". Retrieved 27 October
^ "For Iceland, an exodus of workers". The New York Times. 5 December
2008. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 10
^ Video: Allies Study Post-War Security Etc. (1944). Universal
Newsreel. 1944. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
^ "Vísindavefurinn: Hversu há var Marshallaðstoðin sem Ísland
fékk eftir seinni heimsstyrjöld?". Vísindavefurinn. 13 May 2003.
Retrieved 27 October 2014.
^ Müller, Margrit; Myllyntaus, Timo (2007). Pathbreakers: Small
European Countries Responding to Globalisation and Deglobalisation.
Peter Lang. pp. 385–. ISBN 978-3-03911-214-2.
^ Wilcox and Latif, p. 29
^ Robert Jackson (15 November 2008). "The Big Chill". Financial
^ "Home – Hagstofa". Hagstofa.
^ a b Lewis, Michael (April 2009). "Wall Street on the Tundra". Vanity
Iceland lost almost 5000 people in 2009" (PDF). Journal of
Nordregio. 10 (1): 18. April 2010.
^ "Viðskiptablaðið – Hagvöxtur 2012 mun minni en spár gerðu
ráð fyrir". Vb.is. 8 March 2013.
Iceland vote: Centre-right opposition wins election". BBC. 28 April
^ "Iceland's Prime Minister Steps Down Amid
Panama Papers Scandal".
New York Times. April 2016.
Iceland elections leave ruling centre-right party in driving seat".
The Guardian. October 2016.
^ Christine Ingebritsen (2000). The Nordic States and European Unity.
Cornell University Press. p. 129. ISBN 0-8014-8659-9.
^ Pertti Joenniemi; Marko Lehti (2003). "On the Encounter Between the
Nordic and the Northern: Torn Apart But Meeting Again?". In Marko
Lehti, David James Smith. Post-
Cold War Identity Politics: Northern
and Baltic Experiences. Psychology Press. p. 135.
^ Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson (28 June 2005). "
Iceland and the European
Union". In Lee Miles. The
European Union and the Nordic Countries.
Routledge. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-134-80405-4.
^ Pieter Dhondt (25 November 2011). National, Nordic Or European?:
Nineteenth-Century University Jubilees and Nordic Cooperation. BRILL.
p. 7. ISBN 90-04-21694-4.
Iceland in statistics". Landmælingar Íslands [National Land
Survey of Iceland]. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010.
Retrieved 22 April 2010.
^ "Rivers and Lakes". Iceland.is. Archived from the original on 17
February 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
^ "Geology of Iceland". Iceland.is. Archived from the original on 14
April 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
^ a b c d e f g h i "Iceland". The World Factbook. Central
Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 6 August 2006.
^ "National Parks". Visit Iceland. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
^ "2012 EPI summary for policymakers" (PDF). Environmental Performance
Index. Yale University. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on
22 July 2016.
^ Simmonds, Jane (1999). Iceland. Langenscheidt. p. 100.
^ James S. Aber (2015). "Late Holocene climate". Emporia State
University, Kansas. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
^ Highwood, E. J.; Stevenson, D. S. (2003). "Atmospheric impact of the
Laki Eruption: Part II Climatic effect of sulphate
aerosol" (PDF). Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions.
Retrieved 10 February 2010.
^ Rare eruption of Iceland's most famous hot spring.
^ Carmichael, I.S.E. (1964). "The Petrology of Thingmuli, a Tertiary
Volcano in Eastern Iceland" (PDF). J. Petrology. 5 (3): 435–460.
Surtsey volcano". Iceland.vefur.is. Retrieved 10 February
^ "Volcano erupts near
Eyjafjallajökull in south Iceland". BBC News
Online. 21 March 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
^ "Icelandic volcano glacier melt forces hundreds to flee". BBC News
Online. 14 April 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
^ "Icelandic volcanic ash alert grounds UK flights".
BBC News Online.
15 April 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
^ "Steve Connor: Larger ash particles will mean less chaos". The
Independent. London. 24 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
^ Lamb H. (1995). Climate, History and the Modern World. Routledge.
^ a b Icelandic Climatic Data (English introduction), Veðurstofa
Íslands (Icelandic Meteorological Office)
^ a b celandic weather stations from above site
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