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Iceland
Iceland
(/ˈaɪslənd/ ( listen); Icelandic: Ísland, pronounced [ˈistlant])[7] 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.[8] The capital and largest city is Reykjavík. Reykjavík
Reykjavík
and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country are home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland
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 lowlands. Iceland
Iceland
is warmed by the Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic
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
Iceland
began in 874 AD when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent settler on the island.[9] 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 the Kalmar Union
Kalmar Union
in 1397 united the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Iceland
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
Lutheranism
forcefully in 1550, Iceland
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
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 20th century, Iceland
Iceland
relied largely on subsistence fishing and agriculture, and was among the poorest countries in Europe. Industrialisation of the fisheries and Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
aid following World War II
World War II
brought prosperity, and Iceland
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 manufacturing. Iceland
Iceland
has a market economy with relatively low taxes, compared to other OECD
OECD
countries.[10] It maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens.[11] Iceland
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.[6] Iceland
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.[12] Since then, the economy has made a significant recovery, in large part due to a surge in tourism.[13][14][15] Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation's Scandinavian heritage. Most Icelanders
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
Iceland
has the smallest population of any NATO
NATO
member and is the only one with no standing army, with a lightly armed coast guard in charge of defence.[16]

Contents

1 Etymology 2 History

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 Republic
Republic
of Iceland
Iceland
1944–present

2.6.1 Economic boom and crisis

3 Geography

3.1 Geology 3.2 Climate 3.3 Biodiversity

4 Politics

4.1 Government 4.2 Administrative divisions 4.3 Foreign relations 4.4 Military

5 Economy

5.1 Economic contraction 5.2 Transport 5.3 Energy 5.4 Education and science

6 Demographics

6.1 Urbanisation 6.2 Language 6.3 Health 6.4 Religion

7 Culture

7.1 Literature 7.2 Art 7.3 Music 7.4 Media 7.5 Cuisine 7.6 Sport

8 See also 9 References

9.1 Bibliography

10 Further reading 11 External links

Etymology[edit] See also: Names of Iceland

Norsemen
Norsemen
landing in Iceland
Iceland
– a 19th-century depiction by Oscar Wergeland.

The Sagas of Icelanders
Icelanders
say that a Norwegian named Naddodd (or 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
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.[17] The notion that Iceland’s Viking settlers chose that name to discourage oversettlement of their verdant isle is merely a myth.[17] History[edit] Main articles: History of Iceland
History of Iceland
and Timeline of Icelandic history Settlement and Commonwealth 874–1262[edit] See also: Settlement of Iceland, Icelandic Commonwealth, and Christianisation of Iceland

Ingólfr Arnarson
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
Papar
lived in Iceland
Iceland
before Scandinavian settlers arrived, possibly members of a Hiberno-Scottish mission. Recent archaeological excavations have revealed the ruins of a cabin in Hafnir
Hafnir
on the Reykjanes
Reykjanes
peninsula. Carbon dating
Carbon dating
indicates that it was abandoned sometime between 770 and 880.[18] In 2016, archeologists uncovered a longhouse in Stöðvarfjörður
Stöðvarfjörður
that has been dated to as early as 800.[19] Swedish Viking explorer Garðar Svavarsson
Garðar Svavarsson
was the first to circumnavigate Iceland
Iceland
in 870 and establish that it was an island.[20] 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].[21][22] The Norwegian-Norse chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson
Ingólfr Arnarson
built his homestead in present-day Reykjavík
Reykjavík
in 874. Ingólfr was followed by many other emigrant settlers, largely Scandinavians and their thralls, many of whom were Irish or Scottish.[23] 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.[24] The period of these early settlements coincided with the Medieval Warm Period, when temperatures were similar to those of the early 20th century.[25] At this time, about 25% of Iceland
Iceland
was covered with forest, compared to 1% in the present day.[26] Christianity
Christianity
was adopted by consensus around 999–1000, although Norse paganism
Norse paganism
persisted among some segments of the population for some years afterwards.[27] The Middle Ages[edit] See also: Age of the Sturlungs

Ósvör, a replica of an old fishing outpost outside Bolungarvík

The Icelandic Commonwealth
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.[28] 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 and brought Iceland
Iceland
under the Norwegian crown. Possession of Iceland passed from the Norwegian Empire
Norwegian Empire
to the Kalmar Union
Kalmar Union
in 1415, when the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark
Denmark
and Sweden
Sweden
were united. After the break-up of the union in 1523, it remained a Norwegian dependency, as a part of Denmark–Norway. In the ensuing centuries, Iceland
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
Black Death
swept Iceland twice, first in 1402–1404 and again in 1494–1495.[29] The former outbreak killed 50% to 60% of the population, and the latter 30% to 50%.[30] Reformation and the Early Modern period[edit] See also: Icelandic Reformation, Danish-Icelandic Trade Monopoly, and Móðuharðindin Around the middle of the 16th century, as part of the Protestant Reformation, King 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
Lutheranism
has since remained the dominant religion.

A map of Iceland
Iceland
published in the early 17th century

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Denmark
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.[31][32] A great smallpox epidemic in the 18th century killed around a third of the population.[33][34] In 1783 the Laki
Laki
volcano erupted, with devastating effects.[35] 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 ensuing famine.[36] Independence movement 1814–1918[edit] See also: Icelandic independence movement
Icelandic independence movement
and Fjölnir (journal) In 1814, following the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark- Norway
Norway
was broken up into two separate kingdoms via the Treaty of Kiel
Treaty of Kiel
but Iceland
Iceland
remained 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
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.[37] 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
Fjölnismenn
and other Danish-educated Icelandic intellectuals. In 1874, Denmark
Denmark
granted Iceland
Iceland
a constitution and limited home rule. This was expanded in 1904, and Hannes Hafstein
Hannes Hafstein
served as the first Minister for Iceland
Minister for Iceland
in the Danish cabinet. Independence and the Kingdom of Iceland
Kingdom of Iceland
1918–1944[edit] See also: Kingdom of Iceland, Invasion of Iceland, and Iceland
Iceland
in World War II

HMS Berwick led the British invasion of Iceland

The Danish–Icelandic Act of Union, an agreement with Denmark
Denmark
signed on 1 December 1918 and valid for 25 years, recognised Iceland
Iceland
as a fully sovereign and independent state in a personal union with Denmark. The Government of Iceland
Government of Iceland
established an embassy in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
and requested that Denmark
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
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
Canada
whose sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II. During World War II, Iceland
Iceland
joined Denmark
Denmark
in asserting neutrality. After the 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. Republic
Republic
of Iceland
Iceland
1944–present[edit]

British and Icelandic vessels collide in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
during the Cod Wars
Cod Wars
(Icelandic vessel is shown on the left; the British vessel is on the right)

See also: Icelandic constitutional referendum, 1944; Iceland
Iceland
in the Cold War; and Cod
Cod
Wars 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
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 constitution.[38] Iceland
Iceland
formally became a republic on 17 June 1944, with Sveinn Björnsson
Sveinn Björnsson
as its first president. In 1946, the US Defence Force Allied left Iceland. The nation formally became a member of NATO
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
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
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
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).[39][40] The 1970s were marked by the Cod
Cod
Wars — several disputes with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
over Iceland's extension of its fishing limits to 200 nmi (370 km) offshore. Iceland
Iceland
hosted a summit in Reykjavík
Reykjavík
in 1986 between United States President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, during which they took significant steps toward nuclear disarmament. A few years later, Iceland
Iceland
became the first country to recognize the independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
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 end, Iceland
Iceland
provided aid and expertise to various NATO-led interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq.[41] Iceland
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.[42][43] Economic boom and crisis[edit] Further information: 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
Iceland
moved toward having an economy based on international investment banking and financial services.[44] It was quickly becoming one of the most prosperous countries in the world but was hit hard by a major financial crisis.[44] The crisis resulted in the greatest migration from Iceland since 1887, with a net emigration of 5,000 people in 2009.[45] Iceland's economy stabilised under the government of Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, and grew by 1.6% in 2012.[46] 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.[47] In the following years, Iceland
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 in the Panama Papers
Panama Papers
scandal.[48] Early elections in 2016 resulted in a right-wing coalition government of the Independence Party, the Reform Party and Bright Future. [49] Geography[edit]

General topographic map

Further information: Geography of Iceland Iceland
Iceland
is at the juncture of the North Atlantic and Arctic
Arctic
Oceans. The main island is entirely south of the Arctic
Arctic
Circle, which passes through the small Icelandic island of Grímsey
Grímsey
off the main island's northern coast. The country lies between latitudes 63 and 68°N, and longitudes 25 and 13°W. Iceland
Iceland
is closer to continental Europe
Europe
than to mainland North America; thus, the island is generally included in Europe
Europe
for historical, political, cultural, geographical, and practical reasons.[50][51][52][53] 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 Europe
Europe
are the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
(420 km, 260 mi); Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen
Island (570 km, 350 mi); Shetland
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
Norway
is about 970 km (600 mi) away.

Three typical Icelandic landscapes

Iceland
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 populated Grímsey
Grímsey
and the Vestmannaeyjar
Vestmannaeyjar
archipelago. Lakes and glaciers cover 14.3% of its surface; only 23% is vegetated.[54] The largest lakes are Þórisvatn reservoir: 83–88 km2 (32–34 sq mi) and Þingvallavatn: 82 km2 (32 sq mi); other important lakes include Lagarfljót
Lagarfljót
and Mývatn. Jökulsárlón
Jökulsárlón
is the deepest lake, at 248 m (814 ft).[55] Geologically, Iceland
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
Iceland
to be subaerial (above the surface of the sea). The ridge marks the boundary between the Eurasian and North American Plates, and Iceland
Iceland
was created by rifting and accretion through volcanism along the ridge.[56] 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
Grímsey
on the Arctic
Arctic
Circle contains the northernmost habitation of Iceland, whereas Kolbeinsey contains the northernmost point of Iceland.[57] Iceland
Iceland
has three national parks: Vatnajökull
Vatnajökull
National Park, Snæfellsjökull
Snæfellsjökull
National Park, and Þingvellir
Þingvellir
National Park.[58] The country is considered a "strong performer" in environmental protection, having been ranked 13th in Yale University's Environmental Performance Index of 2012.[59]

Iceland
Iceland
as seen from space on 29 January 2004

Suðureyri

Norðfjörður

The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull

South of Iceland, off the Ring Road, looking north, late afternoon in winter 2001

Geology[edit] Main article: Geology of Iceland See also: Iceland
Iceland
plume

The erupting Geysir
Geysir
in Haukadalur
Haukadalur
valley, the oldest known geyser in the world

Gullfoss, an iconic waterfall of Iceland

A geologically young land, Iceland
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.[60] The volcanic eruption of Laki
Laki
in 1783–1784 caused a famine that killed nearly a quarter of the island's population.[61] In addition, the eruption caused dust clouds and haze to appear over most of Europe
Europe
and parts of Asia and Africa for several months afterward, and affected climates in other areas.[62] Iceland
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, Geysir
Geysir
started erupting again after a series of earthquakes in 2000. Geysir
Geysir
has since grown quieter and does not erupt often.[63] 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 andesite. Iceland
Iceland
has hundreds of volcanoes with about 30 active volcanic systems.[64] 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.[57] Only scientists researching the growth of new life are allowed to visit the island.[65] On 21 March 2010, a volcano in Eyjafjallajökull
Eyjafjallajökull
in the south of Iceland
Iceland
erupted for the first time since 1821, forcing 600 people to flee their homes.[66] Additional eruptions on 14 April forced hundreds of people to abandon their homes.[67] The resultant cloud of volcanic ash brought major disruption to air travel across Europe.[68] Another large eruption occurred on 21 May 2011. This time it was the Grímsvötn
Grímsvötn
volcano, located under the thick ice of Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull. Grímsvötn
Grímsvötn
is one of Iceland's most active volcanoes, and this eruption was much more powerful than the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull
Eyjafjallajökull
activity, with ash and lava hurled 20 km (12 mi) into the atmosphere, creating a large cloud.[69] The highest elevation for Iceland
Iceland
is listed as 2,110 m (6,923 ft) at Hvannadalshnúkur
Hvannadalshnúkur
(64°00′N 16°39′W). Climate[edit]

Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
types of Iceland

Eyjafjallajökull
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.[70] 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
Reykjavík
are 26.2 °C (79.2 °F) on 30 July 2008, and −24.5 °C (−12.1 °F) on 21 January 1918.

Climate data for Reykjavík, Iceland
Iceland
(1961–1990)

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C (°F) 1.9 (35.4) 2.8 (37) 3.2 (37.8) 5.7 (42.3) 9.4 (48.9) 11.7 (53.1) 13.3 (55.9) 13.0 (55.4) 10.1 (50.2) 6.8 (44.2) 3.4 (38.1) 2.2 (36) 7.0 (44.6)

Average low °C (°F) −3.0 (26.6) −2.1 (28.2) −2.0 (28.4) 0.4 (32.7) 3.6 (38.5) 6.7 (44.1) 8.3 (46.9) 7.9 (46.2) 5.0 (41) 2.2 (36) −1.3 (29.7) −2.8 (27) 1.9 (35.4)

Source #1: Icelandic Meteorological Office[71]

Source #2: All Icelandic weather station climatic monthly means[72]

Climate data for Akureyri, Iceland
Iceland
(1961–1990)

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C (°F) 0.9 (33.6) 1.7 (35.1) 2.1 (35.8) 5.4 (41.7) 9.5 (49.1) 13.2 (55.8) 14.5 (58.1) 13.9 (57) 9.9 (49.8) 5.9 (42.6) 2.6 (36.7) 1.3 (34.3) 6.7 (44.1)

Average low °C (°F) −5.5 (22.1) −4.7 (23.5) −4.2 (24.4) −1.5 (29.3) 2.3 (36.1) 6.0 (42.8) 7.5 (45.5) 7.1 (44.8) 3.5 (38.3) 0.4 (32.7) −3.5 (25.7) −5.1 (22.8) 0.2 (32.4)

Source #1: Icelandic Meteorological Office[71]

Source #2: All Icelandic weather station climatic monthly means[72]

Record high c 20 Biodiversity[edit] See also: Whaling in Iceland
Whaling in Iceland
and The Botany of Iceland

The Arctic fox
Arctic fox
is the only indigenous land mammal in Iceland
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 described worldwide). Iceland
Iceland
is essentially free of mosquitoes.[73] The only native land mammal when humans arrived was the Arctic fox,[74] 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.[75] No native or free-living reptiles or amphibians are on the island.[76] Phytogeographically, Iceland
Iceland
belongs to the Arctic
Arctic
province of the Circumboreal Region
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
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 Íslendingabók as "forested from mountain to sea shore".[77] 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.[74] 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.[77] 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.[74] The tallest tree in Iceland
Iceland
is a sitka spruce planted in 1949 in Kirkjubæjarklaustur; it was measured at 25.2 m (83 ft) in 2013.[78] The animals of Iceland
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
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.[79] 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 cliffs.[80] Commercial whaling
Commercial whaling
is practised intermittently[81][82] along with scientific whale hunts.[83] Whale watching has become an important part of Iceland's economy since 1997.[84] Politics[edit] Main article: Politics of Iceland

The political system of Iceland

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
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
Iceland
was the first country in the world to have a political party formed and led entirely by women.[85] 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%.[86] 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%.[87] Following the 2016 elections, 48% of members of parliament are female.[88] In 2016 Iceland
Iceland
was ranked 2nd in the strength of its democratic institutions[89] and 13th in government transparency.[90] The country has a high level of civic participation, with 81.4% voter turnout during the most recent elections,[91] compared to an OECD
OECD
average of 72%. However, only 50% of Icelanders
Icelanders
say they trust their political institutions, slightly less than the OECD
OECD
average of 56% (and most probably a consequence of the political scandals in the wake of the Icelandic financial crisis).[92] Government[edit] See also: Government of Iceland

The Parliament of Iceland
Iceland
in Reykjavík

The Cabinet of Iceland
Cabinet of Iceland
and the Prime Minister's Office in Reykjavík

A 19th-century depiction of the Alþingi
Alþingi
of the Commonwealth in session at Þingvellir

Iceland
Iceland
is a representative democracy and a parliamentary republic. The modern parliament, Alþingi
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."[93] It currently has 63 members, elected for a maximum period of four years.[94] 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.[95] The president of Iceland
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.[96] 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
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
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
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.[citation needed] In 1980, Icelanders
Icelanders
elected Vigdís Finnbogadóttir
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir
as president, the world's first directly elected female head of state. She retired from office in 1996. In 2009, Iceland
Iceland
became the first country with an openly gay head of government when Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
became prime minister.[97] Administrative divisions[edit] Main article: Administrative divisions of Iceland 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.[57] 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
Reykjavík
North and Reykjavík
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
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
Reykjavík
city area. The imbalance between districts has been reduced by the new system, but still exists.[57] 74 municipalities in Iceland
Iceland
govern local matters like schools, transport, and zoning.[98] These are the actual second-level subdivisions of Iceland, as the constituencies have no relevance except in elections and for statistical purposes. Reykjavík
Reykjavík
is by far the most populous municipality, about four times more populous than Kópavogur, the second one.[57]

Regions of Iceland

Constituencies of Iceland

Municipalities of Iceland

Foreign relations[edit]

Nordic prime ministers and the president of Finland
Finland
visiting the White House in 2016, with Iceland's Sigurður second from the left.

Main articles: 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
Canada
and the other NATO
NATO
nations are particularly close. Historically, due to cultural, economic and linguistic similarities, Iceland
Iceland
is a Nordic country, and it participates in intergovernmental cooperation through the Nordic Council. Iceland
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
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[99] and officially applied on 17 July 2009.[100] However, in 2013, opinion polls showed that many Icelanders
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 membership.[101][102] Military[edit] Main article: Military
Military
of Iceland Iceland
Iceland
has no standing army, but the Icelandic Coast Guard
Icelandic Coast Guard
which also maintains the Iceland
Iceland
Air Defence System, and an Iceland
Iceland
Crisis Response Unit to support peacekeeping missions, perform paramilitary functions. The 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
Icelanders
and military members of other NATO nations. The IDF was downsized after the end of the Cold War
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
NATO
nations have periodically deployed fighters to patrol Icelandic airspace under the Icelandic Air Policing mission.[103][104] Iceland
Iceland
supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
despite much domestic controversy, deploying a Coast Guard EOD team to Iraq,[105] which was replaced later by members of the Iceland
Iceland
Crisis Response Unit. Iceland
Iceland
has also participated in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the 1999 NATO
NATO
bombing of Yugoslavia. Despite the ongoing financial crisis the first new patrol ship in decades was launched on 29 April 2009.[106] Iceland
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[citation needed]. Conflict with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
led to a series of so-called Cod
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)[citation needed]. According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland
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.[107] Iceland
Iceland
is listed in Guinness Records Book as "Country ranked most at peace" and "Lowest military spending per capita".[108] Economy[edit]

Akureyri
Akureyri
is the largest town in Iceland
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 In 2007, 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
Iceland
is derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources.[109] Utilization of abundant hydroelectric and geothermal power has made Iceland
Iceland
the world's largest electricity producer per capita.[110] As a result of its commitment to renewable energy, the 2016 Global Green Economy Index ranked Iceland
Iceland
among the top 10 greenest economies in the world.[111] Historically, Iceland's economy depended heavily on fishing, which still provides 40% of export earnings and employs 7% of the work force.[57] The economy is vulnerable to declining fish stocks and drops in world prices for its main material exports: fish and fish products, aluminium, and ferrosilicon. Whaling in Iceland
Whaling in Iceland
has been historically significant. Iceland
Iceland
still relies heavily on fishing, but its importance is diminishing from an export share of 90% in the 1960s to 40% in 2006.[112] Until the 20th century, Iceland
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
Iceland
to be ranked first in the United Nations' Human Development Index
Human Development Index
report for 2007/2008,[6] 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
Iceland
has the 2nd highest quality of life in the world.[113] Based on the Gini coefficient, Iceland
Iceland
also has one of the lowest rates of income inequality in the world,[114] and when adjusted for inequality, its HDI ranking climbs to 5th place.[115] 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 2010.[57][116][117] Many political parties remain opposed to EU membership, primarily due to Icelanders' concern about losing control over their natural resources (particularly fisheries).[118] The national currency of Iceland
Iceland
is the Icelandic króna
Icelandic króna
(ISK). Iceland
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.[119] 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.[120] Another Capacent Gallup poll conducted in February 2012 found that 67.4% of Icelanders
Icelanders
would reject EU membership in a referendum.[121]

Graphical depiction of Iceland's product exports in 28 colour-coded categories

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%.[122] The tourism sector is expanding, especially in ecotourism and whale-watching. On average, Iceland
Iceland
receives around 1.1 million visitors annually, which is more than three times the native population.[92] 1.7 million people visited Iceland
Iceland
in 2016, 3 times more than the number that came in 2010. [123] Iceland's agriculture industry, accounting for 5.4% of GDP,[57] consists mainly of potatoes, green vegetables (in greenhouses), mutton and dairy products.[57] The financial centre is Borgartún
Borgartún
in Reykjavík, which hosts a large number of companies and three investment banks. Iceland's stock market, the Iceland Stock Exchange (ISE), was established in 1985.[124] Iceland
Iceland
is ranked 27th in the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, lower than in prior years but still among the freest in the world.[125] As of 2016[update], it ranks 29th in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitive Index, one place lower than in 2015.[126] According to INSEAD's Global Innovation Index, Iceland
Iceland
is the 11th most innovative country in the world.[127] Unlike most Western European countries, Iceland
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.[128] The corporate tax rate is a flat 18%, one of the lowest in the world.[128] 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
Iceland
is one of the few countries where they are applied to fishery management.[128] 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
OECD
countries and a potential impediment to structural change. Also, health care and education spending have relatively poor returns by OECD
OECD
measures, though improvements have been made in both areas. The OECD
OECD
Economic Survey of Iceland
Iceland
2008 had highlighted Iceland's challenges in currency and macroeconomic policy.[129] 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.[130] An assessment by the OECD
OECD
2011[131] determined that Iceland
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.[132] 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.[133] Economic contraction[edit] Main article: 2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis Iceland
Iceland
had been hit especially hard by the Great Recession
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
Landsbanki
and Kaupthing, their combined debt exceeded approximately six times the nation's gross domestic product of €14 billion ($19 billion).[134][135] In October 2008, the Icelandic parliament passed emergency legislation to minimise the impact of the financial crisis. The Financial Supervisory Authority of Iceland
Iceland
used permission granted by the emergency legislation to take over the domestic operations of the three largest banks.[136] 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 into bankruptcy. 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
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
Nordic countries
agreed to lend Iceland $2.5 billion.[137] 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
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.[138] Thousands of Icelanders
Icelanders
have moved from the country after the collapse, and many of those moved to Norway. In 2005, 293 people moved from Iceland
Iceland
to Norway; in 2009, the figure was 1,625.[139] In April 2010, the Icelandic Parliament‘s Special
Special
Investigation Commission published the findings of its investigation,[140] revealing the extent of control fraud in this crisis.[141] By June 2012, Landsbanki
Landsbanki
managed to repay about half of the Icesave debt.[142] According to Bloomberg, Iceland
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.[143] Transport[edit]

The Ring Road of Iceland
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
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.[144] 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.[145] Route 1, or the Ring Road (Icelandic: Þjóðvegur 1 or Hringvegur), was completed in 1974, and is a main road that runs around Iceland
Iceland
and 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)[146] long with one lane in each direction, except near larger towns and cities and in the Hvalfjörður Tunnel
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) [147] is the largest airport and the main aviation hub for international passenger transport. It serves several international and domestic airline companies.[148] KEF is in the vicinity of the larger metropolitan capital areas, 49 km (30 mi) [149] to the WSW of Reykjavík
Reykjavík
center, reachable only by bus services[150] and passenger cars. Iceland
Iceland
has no passenger railways. Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Airport (RKV) [151] 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.[152] RKV also serves international flights to Greenland
Greenland
and the Faroe Islands, business and private airplanes along with aviation training. Akureyri
Akureyri
Airport (AEY) [153] and Egilsstaðir
Egilsstaðir
Airport (EGS) [154] 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.[155][better source needed] Energy[edit] See also: Renewable energy
Renewable energy
in Iceland

The 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.[156]

Renewable sources—geothermal and hydropower—provide effectively all of Iceland's electricity[156] and around 85% of the nation's total primary energy consumption,[157] with most of the remainder consisting of imported oil products used in transportation and in the fishing fleet.[158][159] Iceland
Iceland
expects to be energy-independent by 2050. Iceland's largest geothermal power plants are Hellisheiði and Nesjavellir,[160][161] while Kárahnjúkar Hydropower
Hydropower
Plant is the country's largest hydroelectric power station.[162] When the Kárahnjúkavirkjun started operating, Iceland
Iceland
became the world's largest electricity producer per capita.[163] Icelanders
Icelanders
emit 6.29 tonnes of CO2 in 2009 equivalent of greenhouse gases per capita.[164] Iceland
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
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.[165] Two exploration licenses have been awarded.[166] In 2010 Iceland
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.[167] As of 2012[update], the government of Iceland
Iceland
is in talks with the government of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
about the possibility of constructing a high-voltage direct-current connector for transmission of electricity between the two countries.[168] Such a cable would give Iceland
Iceland
access to a market where electricity prices have generally been much higher than those in Iceland.[169] Iceland
Iceland
has considerable renewable energy resources, especially geothermal energy and hydropower resources,[170] 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
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[edit] See also: Education in Iceland

Reykjavík
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.[171] Students must adhere closely to the government mandated curriculum, and the parent teaching must acquire a government approved teaching certificate. 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.[172] 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
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 include Reykjavík
Reykjavík
University, University of Akureyri, Agricultural University of Iceland
University of Iceland
and Bifröst University. An OECD
OECD
assessment found 64% of Icelanders
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%.[92] 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
OECD
average.[173] Students were particularly proficient in reading and mathematics. According to a 2013 Eurostat
Eurostat
report by the European Commission, Iceland
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.[174] A 2010 UNESCO
UNESCO
report found that out of 72 countries that spend the most on R&D (100 million US dollars or more), Iceland
Iceland
ranked 9th by proportion of GDP, tied with Taiwan, Switzerland, and Germany
Germany
and ahead of France, the UK, and Canada.[175] Demographics[edit] 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 Iceland's population

The original population of Iceland
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 Iceland
Iceland
were Norsemen
Norsemen
who brought Gaelic slaves with them.[176] Iceland
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.[9] There were 37 famine years in Iceland between 1500 and 1804.[177] 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
Laki
volcano during 1783–1784, the population reached a low of about 40,000.[178] 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
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
Iceland
is one of only a few European countries with a birth rate sufficient for long-term population growth (see table on the left).[179][180]

Population projection (1 January)[181]

Year Low Medium High

2014 325,671

2015 326,546 326,895 327,464

2020 340,418 342,716 346,279

2025 352,280 357,894 365,893

2030 361,853 371,796 385,405

2035 369,888 384,397 404,053

2040 376,580 395,866 422,047

2045 381,846 406,271 439,756

2050 385,536 415,627 457,317

2055 387,489 423,790 474,561

2060 387,597 430,545 490,976

In December 2007, 33,678 people (13.5% of the total population) living in Iceland
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
Fjarðabyggð
where they make up 75% of the workforce who are constructing the Fjarðarál aluminium plant.[182] 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.[citation needed] Large-scale construction projects in the east of Iceland
Iceland
(see Kárahnjúkar Hydropower
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 crisis.[183] The southwest corner of Iceland
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
Reykjavík
area are Akureyri
Akureyri
and Reykjanesbær, although the latter is relatively close to the capital. Some 500 Icelanders
Icelanders
under the leadership of Erik the Red
Erik the Red
colonised Greenland
Greenland
in the late 10th century, which until then was only inhabited paleo-Eskimos.[184] The total population reached a high point of perhaps 5,000 and developed independent institutions before disappearing by 1500.[185] People from Greenland
Greenland
attempted to set up a colony at Vinland
Vinland
in North America, but abandoned it in the face of hostility from the indigenous residents.[186] Emigration of Icelanders
Icelanders
to the United States and Canada
Canada
began in the 1870s. As of 2006[update], Canada
Canada
had over 88,000 people of Icelandic descent,[187] while there are more than 40,000 Americans of Icelandic descent, according to the 2000 US census.[188] Urbanisation[edit] Iceland's 10 most populous urban areas:

 

v t e

Largest cities or towns in Iceland statice.is

Rank Name Region Pop.

Reykjavík

Kópavogur 1 Reykjavík Capital Region 121,230

Hafnarfjörður

Akureyri

2 Kópavogur Capital Region 32,308

3 Hafnarfjörður Capital Region 27,357

4 Akureyri Northeastern Region 18,103

5 Reykjanesbær Southern Peninsula 14,527

6 Garðabær Capital Region 14,180

7 Mosfellsbær Capital Region 9,075

8 Árborg Southern Region 7,889

9 Akranes Western Region 6,699

10 Fjarðabyggð Eastern Region 4,675

Language[edit] Main articles: 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
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 letter Þ
Þ
in Latin script. The closest living relative of the Icelandic language
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.[189] 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.[190] Rather than using family names, as is the usual custom in most Western nations, Icelanders
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)).[191] Consequently, Icelanders
Icelanders
refer to one another by their given name, and the Icelandic telephone directory is listed alphabetically by first name rather than by surname.[192] All new names must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee. Health[edit] Iceland
Iceland
has a universal health care system that is administered by its Ministry of Welfare (Icelandic: Velferðarráðuneytið)[193] 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.[194] A considerable portion of the government budget is assigned to health care,[194] and Iceland
Iceland
ranks 11th in health care expenditures as a percentage of GDP[195] and 14th in spending per capita.[196] Overall, the country's health care system is one of the best performing in the world, ranked 15th by the World Health Organization.[197] According to an OECD
OECD
report, Iceland
Iceland
devotes far more resources to healthcare than most industrialised nations. As of 2009[update], Iceland
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).[198] Icelanders
Icelanders
are among the world's healthiest people, with 81% reporting they are in good health, according to an OECD
OECD
survey.[92] Although it is a growing problem, obesity is not as prevalent as in other developed countries.[198] Iceland
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,[199] and the proportion of the population that smokes is lower than the OECD
OECD
average.[198] Almost all women choose to terminate pregnancies of children with Down syndrome in Iceland.[200] The average life expectancy is 81.8 (compared to an OECD
OECD
average of 79.5), the 4th highest in the world.[201] Additionally, Iceland
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.[202] According to an OECD
OECD
assessment, the amount of toxic materials in the atmosphere is far lower than in any other industrialised country measured.[203] Religion[edit] Main article: Religion in Iceland

Affiliation by religious movement (1 January 2017)[204]

Church of Iceland

69.89%

Other Christian

11.67%

Other and not specified

9.97%

Unaffiliated

6.06%

Germanic Heathenism

1.07%

Zuism

0.84%

Buddhism

0.3%

Islam

0.3%

Humanist association

0.53%

Bahá'í Faith

0.1%

A church in the northwest of Iceland

Icelanders
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[205]

The Registers Iceland
Iceland
keeps account of the religious affiliation of every Icelandic citizen. In 2015, Icelanders
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; 6.06% unaffiliated; 1.07% members of Germanic Heathen groups (99% of them belonging to Ásatrúarfélagið); 0.84% members of Zuist groups; 0.53% members of the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association.

Iceland
Iceland
is a very secular country; as with other Nordic nations, religious attendance is relatively low.[206][207] 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.[208] A Gallup poll conducted in 2012 found that 57% of Icelanders
Icelanders
considered themselves "religious", 31% considered themselves "non-religious", while 10% defined themselves as "convinced atheists", placing Iceland
Iceland
among the ten countries with the highest proportions of atheists in the world.[209] The proportion registered in the official Church of Iceland
Iceland
is declining rapidly, more than 1% per year (the Church of Iceland
Iceland
has declined from 80% in 2010 to less than 70% in 2017).[citation needed] Culture[edit] Main article: Culture of Iceland Icelandic culture has its roots in North Germanic traditions. Icelandic literature
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
Old Norse
of all modern Nordic languages.[210] In contrast to other Nordic countries, Icelanders
Icelanders
place relatively great importance on independence and self-sufficiency; in a public opinion analysis conducted by the European Commission, over 85% of Icelanders
Icelanders
believe independence is "very important," compared to 47% of Norwegians, 49% of Danes, and an average of 53% for the EU25.[211] Icelanders
Icelanders
also have a very strong work ethic, working some of the longest hours of any industrialised nation.[212] According to a poll conducted by the OECD, 66% of Icelanders
Icelanders
were 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 an OECD
OECD
average of 72%, which makes Iceland
Iceland
one of the happiest countries in the OECD.[92] 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%.[213] Iceland
Iceland
is liberal with regard to LGBT
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, making Iceland
Iceland
one of the first countries in the world to legalise same-sex marriages. The law took effect on 27 June 2010.[214] 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 couples.[214] Icelanders
Icelanders
are known for their deep sense of community: An OECD
OECD
survey 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.[92] 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.[215] Egalitarianism is highly valued among the people of Iceland, with income inequality being among the lowest in the world.[114] The constitution explicitly prohibits the enactment of noble privileges, titles, and ranks.[216] Everyone is addressed by their first name. As in other Nordic countries, equality between the sexes is very high; Iceland
Iceland
is consistently ranked among the top three countries in the world for women to live in.[217][218][219] Literature[edit] Main article: Icelandic literature In 2011, Reykjavik was designated a UNESCO
UNESCO
City of Literature.[220]

A page of Njáls saga
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
Grænlendinga saga
and Eiríks saga, describing the discovery and settlement of Greenland
Greenland
and Vinland
Vinland
(modern Newfoundland). Egils saga, Laxdæla saga, Grettis saga, Gísla 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
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
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
Icelanders
are avid consumers of literature, with the highest number of bookstores per capita in the world. For its size, Iceland
Iceland
imports and translates more international literature than any other nation.[216] Iceland
Iceland
also has the highest per capita publication of books and magazines,[221] and around 10% of the population will publish a book in their lifetimes.[222] Most books in Iceland
Iceland
are sold between late September to early November. This time period is known as Jolabokaflod, the Christmas Book Flood.[220] The Flood begins with the Iceland
Iceland
Publisher's Association distributing Bokatidindi, a catalog of all new publications, free to each Icelandic home.[220] Art[edit] 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
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 studied at 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
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 their work. In the recent years artistic practice has multiplied, and the Icelandic art
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.[223] The Living Art Museum, Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Municipal Art Museum, Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Art Museum and the National Gallery of Iceland
National Gallery of Iceland
are the larger, more established institutions, curating shows and festivals.

Þingvellir
Þingvellir
by Þórarinn B. Þorláksson

Statue of Thorfinn Karlsefni
Thorfinn Karlsefni
by Icelandic sculptor Einar Jónsson
Einar Jónsson
in Philadelphia

The writer Halldór Laxness
Halldór Laxness
by Einar Hákonarson, 1984

Traditional Icelandic turf houses. Until the 20th century, the vast majority of Icelanders
Icelanders
lived in rural areas

The old building (Gamli Skóli) of the Menntaskóli, i.e. High School precinct in Akureyri

Music[edit] 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 Sugarcubes, Sóley
Sóley
and Of Monsters and Men, jazz fusion band Mezzoforte, pop singers such as Hafdís Huld, Emilíana Torrini
Emilíana Torrini
and Björk, solo ballad singers like Bubbi Morthens, and post-rock bands such as Amiina
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 Iceland's history. Hallgrímur Pétursson
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.[224] 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 and Anna S. Þorvaldsdóttir
Anna S. Þorvaldsdóttir
(Anna Thorvaldsdottir), who in 2012 received the Nordic Council
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.[225] The national anthem of Iceland
Iceland
is Lofsöngur, written by Matthías Jochumsson, with music by Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson.[226] Media[edit]

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur, best known for the films 101 Reykjavík, Jar City and Contraband, and television series Trapped

See also: 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
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
Bylgjan
and FM957. The daily newspapers are Morgunblaðið
Morgunblaðið
and Fréttablaðið. The most popular websites are the news sites Vísir
Vísir
and Mbl.is.[227] Iceland
Iceland
is home to LazyTown
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.[228] The LazyTown
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".[229] In 1992 the Icelandic film industry achieved its greatest recognition hitherto, when Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for his Children of Nature.[230] 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
Iceland
to die together. This is the only Icelandic movie to have ever been nominated for an Academy Award.[231] Singer-songwriter Björk
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
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 - Drama.[232] 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 Bond movie 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.[233] 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.[234] According to a 2011 report by Freedom House, Iceland
Iceland
is one of the highest ranked countries in press freedom.[235] CCP Games, developers of the critically acclaimed EVE Online and Dust 514, is headquartered in Reykjavík. CCP Games
CCP Games
hosts the third most populated MMO in the world, which also has the largest total game area for an online game. Iceland
Iceland
has a highly developed internet culture, with around 95% of the population having internet access, the highest proportion in the world.[236] Iceland
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.[237] The United Nations
United Nations
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.[238] 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 speech.[239][240][241] Cuisine[edit] Main articles: Icelandic cuisine
Icelandic cuisine
and Þorramatur

A typical Þorramatur
Þorramatur
assortment

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
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.[242] Puffin
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
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. Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola
is also widely consumed, to the extent that the country is said to have one of the highest per capita consumption rates in the world.[243] 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
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. Sport[edit] Main article: Sport in Iceland

The 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.[244]

Sport is an important part of Icelandic culture, as the population is generally quite active.[245] The main traditional sport in Iceland
Iceland
is Glíma, a form of wrestling thought to have originated in medieval times. Popular sports include association football, track and field, handball and basketball. Handball is often referred to as the national sport,[244] and Iceland's men's national team is ranked among the top 20 in the world.[246] 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.[247] Following up on this, Iceland
Iceland
qualified for the 2018 FIFA
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.[248] In 2014 the Icelandic men's national basketball team qualified for the EuroBasket 2015
EuroBasket 2015
for the first time in the country history. Iceland
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
Iceland
is also a world-class destination for alpine ski touring and Telemark skiing, with the Troll Peninsula in Northern Iceland
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
Iceland
has a greater percentage of the population playing golf than Scotland with over 17,000 registered golfers out of a population of approximately 300,000.[249] Iceland
Iceland
hosts an annual international golf tournament known as the Arctic
Arctic
Open played through the night during the summer solstice at Akureyri
Akureyri
Golf Club.[250][251] Iceland
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 Sigmarsson. Iceland
Iceland
is also one of the leading countries in ocean rowing, Icelandic rower Fiann Paul
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 for Iceland
Iceland
by 2017.[252][253][254] Swimming is popular in Iceland. Geothermally heated outdoor pools are widespread, and swimming courses are a mandatory part of the national curriculum.[251] 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
Iceland
is the Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Shooting 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.[255] Iceland
Iceland
has also produced many chess masters and hosted the historic World Chess Championship 1972
World Chess Championship 1972
in Reykjavík
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.[256] Bridge is also popular, with Iceland
Iceland
participating in a number of international tournaments. Iceland
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. See also[edit]

Europe
Europe
portal Iceland
Iceland
portal Arctic
Arctic
portal Islands portal NATO
NATO
portal

Index of Iceland-related articles Outline of Iceland Icelandic constitutional reform, 2010-13

References[edit]

^ "Population by country of citizenship, sex and age 1 January 1998–2016". Reykjavík, Iceland: Statistics Iceland. Retrieved 27 January 2017.  ^ "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
Iceland
and, as such, it shall be supported and protected by the State". In English, this church is commonly called the Church of Iceland. ^ "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
Gini coefficient
of equivalised disposable income (source: SILC)". Eurostat
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
European Union
guidance on Iceland
Iceland
reading "Do not use ' Republic
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
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
Iceland
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Bibliography[edit]

Wilcox, Jonathan; Latif, Zawiah Abdul (2007). Cultures of the World: Iceland. Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 978-0-7614-2074-3. 

Further reading[edit]

Jonsson, Asgeir (2008). Why Iceland? How One of the World's Smallest Countries Became the Meltdown's Biggest Casualty. McGraw–Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-07-163284-3.  Jonsson, Ivar (2012) 'Explaining the Crisis of Iceland
Iceland
– A Realist Approach' in Journal of Critical Realism, 11,1. Heiðarsson, Jakob Oskar (2015) ' Iceland
Iceland
– My Small Island'.

External links[edit]

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Polar exploration

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Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 154772708 LCCN: n80140759 GND: 4027754-9 HDS: 3358 NDL: 0056