Iceland 2002Iceland

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Crystal Travel

Iceland - Introduction 2002
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Background: Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D. Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly the Althing established in 930. Independent for over 300 years Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century 20% of the island's population emigrated mostly to Canada and the US. Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. Literacy longevity income and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.

Iceland - Geography 2002
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Location: Northern Europe island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean northwest of the UK

Geographic coordinates: 65 00 N 18 00 W

Map referenceArctic Region

Total: 103,000 km²
Water: 2,750 km²
Land: 100,250 km²
Comparative: slightly smaller than Kentucky

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 4,988 km

Maritime claims
Continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
Territorial sea: 12 NM
Exclusive economic zone: 200 NM

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

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

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

Natural resources: fish hydropower geothermal power diatomite
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 0.06%
Permanent crops: 0%
Other: 99.94% (23% permanent pastures) (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: NA km²

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards: earthquakes and volcanic activity

Note: strategic location between Greenland and Europe; westernmost European country; Reykjavik is the northernmost national capital in the world; more land covered by glaciers than in all of continental Europe

Iceland - People 2002
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Population: 279,384 (July 2002 est.)
Growth rate: 0.52% (2002 est.)
Below poverty line: NA%

Noun: Icelander
Adjective: Icelandic

Ethnic groups: homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norse and Celts 94% population of foreign origin 6%

Languages: Icelandic English Nordic languages German widely spoken

Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 87.1% other Protestant 4.1% Roman Catholic 1.7% other 7.1% (2002)

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 23% (male 33,189; female 31,155)
15-64 years: 65.1% (male 91,704; female 90,199)
65 years and over: 11.9% (male 14,828; female 18,309) (2002 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 0.52% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 14.37 births/1000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 6.93 deaths/1000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate: -2.27 migrant(s)/1000 population (2002 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: water pollution from fertilizer runoff; inadequate wastewater treatment
International agreements party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
International agreements signed but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.08 male/female
Under 15 years: 1.07 male/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male/female
Total population: 1 male/female (2002 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 3.53 deaths/1000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 79.66 years
Female: 82.07 years (2002 est.)
Male: 77.42 years

Total fertility rate: 1.99 children born/woman (2002 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access

Adult prevalence rate: 0.14% (1999 est.)
People living with hivaids: 200 (1999 est.)
Deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)

Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 99.9% (1997 est.)
Male: NA%
Female: NA%

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Iceland - Government 2002
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Country name
Conventional long form: Republic of Iceland
Conventional short form: Iceland
Local short form: Island
Local long form: Lydhveldidh Island

Government type: constitutional republic

Capital: Reykjavik

Administrative divisions
Note: there may be four other counties

Dependent areas

Independence: 1 December 1918 (became a sovereign state under the Danish Crown); 17 June 1944 (from Denmark)

National holiday: Independence Day 17 June (1944)

Constitution: 16 June 1944 effective 17 June 1944

Legal system: civil law system based on Danish law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON (since 1 August 1996)
Head of government: Prime Minister David ODDSSON (since 30 April 1991)
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister and approved by Parliament
Election results: Olafur Ragnar GRIMSSON ran unopposed in 2000 and was reelected
Elections: president, which is largely a ceremonial post, elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 29 June 1996 (next to be held NA June 2004); President GRIMSSON ran unopposed in June 2000 so there were no elections; prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative branch
Election results: percent of vote by party - Independence Party 40.7%, Social Democratic Alliance (PA, Social Democratic Party, Women's List) 26.8%, Progressive Party 18.4%, Left-Green Alliance 9.1%, Liberal Party 4.2%; seats by party - Independence Party 26, Social Democratic Alliance 17, Progressive Party 12, Left-Green Alliance 6, Liberal Party 2
Elections: last held 8 May 1999 (next to be held by April 2003)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Haestirettur (justices are appointed for life by the Minister of Justice); eight district courts (justices are appointed for life by the Minister of Justice)

Political parties and leaders: Independence Party or IP [David ODDSSON]; Left-Green Alliance or LGP [Steingrimur SIGFUSSON]; Liberal Party or LP [Sverrir HERMANNSSON]; Progressive Party or PP [Halldor ASGRIMSSON]; Social Democratic Alliance (includes People's Alliance or PA Social Democratic Party or SDP Women's List)or SDA [Ossur SKARPHEDINSSON]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Sighvatur BJORGVINSSON]; Women's List or WL [Kristin ASTGEIRSDOTTIR]


Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador Helgi AGUSTSSON
In the us chancery: Suite 1200, 1156 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20,005-1704
In the us consulates general: New York
In the us fax: [1] (202) 265-6,656
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 265-6,653
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador James I. GADSDEN
From the us embassy: Laufasvegur 21, 101 Reykjavik
From the us mailing address: US Embassy, PSC 1003, Box 40, FPO AE 9,728-0340
From the us telephone: [354] 5,629,100
From the us fax: [354] 5,629,139

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

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Iceland - Economy 2002
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Economy overview: Iceland's Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic yet with an extensive welfare system low unemployment and remarkably even distribution of income. In the absence of other natural resources (except for abundant hydrothermal and geothermal power) the economy depends heavily on the fishing industry providing 70% of export earnings and employing 12% of the work force. The economy remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to drops in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products aluminum and ferrosilicon. The center-right government plans to continue its policies of reducing the budget and current account deficits limiting foreign borrowing containing inflation revising agricultural and fishing policies diversifying the economy and privatizing state-owned industries. The government remains opposed to EU membership primarily because of Icelanders' concern about losing control over their fishing resources. Iceland's economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the last decade and new developments in software production biotechnology and financial services are taking place. The tourism sector is also expanding with the recent trends in ecotourism and whale watching. Consumption investment and exports should recover moderately in 2003.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: -0.7% (2002 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 14% (includes fishing 12%)
Industry: 21%
Services: 65% (2001 est.)

Agriculture products: potatoes turnips; cattle sheep; fish

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

Industrial production growth rate: 0.2% (2001 est.)

Labor force: 159,000 (2000)
By occupation: agriculture 5% fishing and fish processing 12% manufacturing 13% construction 11% other services 60% (1999)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 2.8% (2002 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line: NA%

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10: NA%
Highest 10: NA%

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $3.5 billion
Expenditures: $3.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $467 million (1999)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices: 5% (2001 est.)

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: $2 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Commodities: fish and fish products 70% animal products aluminum diatomite ferrosilicon
Partners: UK 18.2% Germany 14.9% Netherlands 10.9 US 10.3% Portugal 5.5% Spain 5.4% Norway 5.3% (2001)

Imports: $2 billion (2002)
Commodities: machinery and equipment petroleum products; foodstuffs textiles
Partners: Germany 12.2% US 11.1% Denmark 8.6% Norway 7.8% UK 7.5% Netherlands 6.6% (2001)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $2.6 billion (1999)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Icelandic kronur per US dollar - 102.430 (January 2002) 97.425 (2001) 78.616 (2000) 72.335 (1999) 70.958 (1998) 70.904 (1997)

Iceland - Energy 2002
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 7.549 billion kWh (2000)
By source fossil fuel: 0%
By source hydro: 83%
By source other: 17% (2000)
By source nuclear: 0%

Electricity consumption: 7.02 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity exports: 0 kWh (2000)

Electricity imports: 0 kWh (2000)

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Iceland - Communication 2002
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular: 248,131 (221,231 GSM 26,900 NMT) (2001)

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

Broadcast media

Internet country code: .is

Internet users: 220,000 (2002)

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Iceland - Military 2002
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $0

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Iceland - Transportation 2002
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 86 (2001)
With paved runways total: 13
With paved runways over 3047 m: 1
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 4
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 8 (2002)
With unpaved runways total: 73
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 3
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 21
With unpaved runways under 914 m: 49 (2002)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 13
Over 3047 m: 1
15-24 to 2437 m: 4
914 to 1523 m: 8 (2002)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 73
15-24 to 2437 m: 3
914 to 1523 m: 21
Under 914 m: 49 (2002)



Railways: 0 km


Waterways: none

Merchant marine
Total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,816 GRT/2,500 DWT
Ships by type: chemical tanker 1 (2002 est.)

Ports and terminals

Iceland - Transnational issues 2002
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Disputes international: Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark Iceland and the UK (Ireland and the UK have signed a boundary agreement in the Rockall area); dispute with Denmark over the Faroe Islands' fisheries median line boundary within 200 NM; disputes with Denmark the UK and Ireland over the Faroe Islands continental shelf boundary outside 200 NM

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs

Austrian Airlines

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