Facts about Iceland

Islandsk landskap
Photographer
Karin Beate Nøsterud/norden.org

Iceland has several active volcanoes and hot springs. 

In the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean lies the volcanic island of Iceland, famous for its warm springs and dramatic scenery.

Politics

Iceland is a republic with a directly elected president. The president formally nominates the prime minister. The Althing (Alþingi) is the parliament and supreme authority in Iceland. Although Iceland is not an EU member, it is a signatory to the EEA Agreement, so is part of the European Economic Area. Iceland is a member of NATO.

  • National day: 17 June (Independence Day, 17 June 1944)
  • Form of government: Republic
  • Parliament: Althing (Alþingi) (63 seats)
  • 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

Population

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)

Population trend

Economy

Fish and fishery products are still the country’s main source of income, followed by aluminium and ferrosilicon exports. In recent years, growth has been recorded in sectors such as biotechnology, software and tourism.

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

 

Statistics on working life in the Nordic countries

Working life in the Nordic countries

 

Geography

Iceland is two and a half times the size of Denmark, but only a little over 1% of the land is fit for growing crops. Most of the landscape consists of big lava fields and glaciers.

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

Climate and the environment

Iceland has a sea 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 Reykjavík

Miscellaneous

Icelandic ( íslenska) is a West Nordic language spoken by approx. 300,000 people, mainly in Iceland where it has been an 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.

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

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

The report State of the Nordic Region is published every two years and provides a comprehensive and unique insight into the Nordic countries. It draws on statistical data on demographics, the labour market, education and the economy in the Region.

 

Would you like to read some more statistics?

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