Facts about Iceland

Islandsk landskap
Karin Beate Nøsterud/norden.org

Iceland is famous for its volcanoes warm springs and dramatic scenery.

Iceland is volcanic and famous for its warm springs and dramatic scenery.

Iceland is a republic in the North Atlantic just south of the Arctic Circle. It has no land borders with other countries and its nearest neighbours are Greenland, Norway, the Faroe Islands and the United Kingdom.

Politics in Iceland

Iceland is a republic with a directly elected president. Formally, the president appoints the prime minister. The national parliament, Alþingi, is the nation’s supreme authority.

Although not in the EU, Iceland is part of the European Economic Area and is a member of NATO.

  • National day: 17 June (Independence Day, 17 June 1944)
  • Form of government: Republic
  • Parliament: Alþingi (the Althing) (63 members)
  • EU membership: No
  • EEA membership: Since 1 January 1994
  • NATO membership: Since 4 April 1949
  • Head of state: President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson
  • Head of government: Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir

The population of Iceland

More than half of the population of 356,991 live in and around the capital, Reykjavík.

  • Population in 2019: 356,991
  • Population of the capital in 2016: 216,878 in Reykjavík (local authority)

The population of Iceland

The Icelandic economy

Fishing and fish products are still Iceland’s most important sources of revenue, followed by exports of aluminium and iron silicon. In recent years, the country has also seen growth in sectors such as biotechnology, software and tourism.

  • Per capita GDP: €40.400 (2019)
  • Currency: Icelandic krona (ISK)

The geography of Iceland

Iceland is two and a half times the size of Denmark but only a little over 1% of the land is arable. Most of the landscape consists of lava and glaciers.

  • Total area: 103,492 km2
  • Lakes and rivers: 2,656 km2
  • Ice-free area: 92,692 km2
  • Arable land and orchards: 1,290 km2
  • Forests: 1,907 km2
  • Largest lake: Þingvallavatn 82 km2
  • Coastline: 6,088 km
  • Highest point: Hvannadalshnúkur 2,110 m

The climate and environment in Iceland

Iceland has a marine climate balanced between cold polar ocean currents and the warmth of the Gulf Stream. It has cool summers and mild winters. The average temperature in Reykjavík is +0.4°C in January and 12.5°C in July. The average for the year is 5.5°C. The coastal area in the north and most of the inland areas have a tundra climate.

  • Ice caps and glaciers: 10,500 km2
  • Average temperature in Reykjavík (2018): 5.1° C (maximum 23.5 °C, minimum -9.0 °C)
  • Precipitation in Reykjavik (2007): 890 mm


Average temperature in Reykjavík

Degrees Celsius


Icelandic (íslenska) is a West Nordic language spoken by approx. 300,000 people, mainly in Iceland where it has been the official language since 2011. Icelandic has much in common with the Old Norse spoken in Norway until around the 13th century. Modern language policy is fairly conservative, with the emphasis on protecting the language and devising new words in it.

Are you interested in moving to Iceland?

If you are interested in moving to Iceland, contact Info Norden, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ information service.

Do you want to know more about Iceland and the rest of the Nordic countries?

The biennial report State of the Nordic Region provides a comprehensive and unique insight into the Nordic countries, drawing on statistical data on demographics, the labour market, education and the economy in the Region.

Would you like more statistics?

We have collated relevant Nordic data and statistics in the Nordic Statistics database. It covers multiple subject areas and all of the Nordic countries.


1) Reykjavik, Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Garðabær, Hafnarfjörður, Mosfellsbær, Kjósarhreppur and Álftanes