Iceland – key data
Area: 103,000 km² (of which land: 100,250 km², water: 2,750 km²)
Population: 311,058 residents (2011 estimate, CIA). Composition: descendants of Scandinavians and Celts 94%, others 6%.
Population density: 3.0 residents per km²
Population growth: 0.687% per year (2011, CIA)
Capital: Reykjavik (117.721 residents, 2007)
Highest point: Hvannadalshnukur, 2,110 m (in the Vatnajokull glacier)
Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean, 0 m
Form of government: Iceland has been a parliamentary republic since 1944, the constitution dates from the same year. The Icelandic Parliament (Althingi) consists of 63MPs. The head of state of Iceland is directly elected every 4 years. From 1918 Iceland was an independent kingdom in personal union with Denmark, on June 17, 1944 the republic and independence from Denmark was proclaimed. Iceland has been part of the European Economic Area (EEA) since 1994, and Iceland joined the Schengen Agreement in 2001.
Administrative division: 8 regions: Austurland, Hofudhborgarsvaedhi, Nordhurland Eystra, Nordhurland Vestra, Sudhurland, Sudhurnes, Vestfirdhir and Vesturland
Head of State: President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, since August 1, 1996
Head of Government: Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, since February 1, 2009
Language: Icelandic is the official language in Iceland. In addition, English, Nordic languages and German are widely spoken.
Religion: Lutheran Icelandic Church 80.7%, Roman Catholic 2.5%, Reykjavik Free Church 2.4%, Hafnarfjorour Free Church 1.6%, other religions 3.6%, no religion 3%, no information 6, 2% (2006).
Local time: CET -1 h. In Iceland there is no change between summer and winter time.
The time difference to Central Europe is -1 hour in winter and -2 hours in summer.
International phone code: +354
Mains voltage: 220 V, 50 Hz with two-pole sockets
According to Youremailverifier, the Republic of Iceland is located a few kilometers below the Arctic Circle on the border between the North Atlantic and the European Arctic Ocean. With a total area of around 103,000 square kilometers, Iceland is as big as Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg combined. The main island of Heimaey is the largest island in Iceland with 11.3 square kilometers and at the same time the largest volcanic island in the world.
Iceland’s land mass rises to 2,119 meters above sea level, with around a quarter of the country below 200 meters and 65% between 200 and 1,000 meters above sea level. Mountains, plateaus, deep river valleys, lakes, glaciers as well volcanoes and lava landscapes shape the overall picture of the country. Deep fjords stretch far into the country on the west, north and east coasts and only in the south of Iceland does an area of around 1,000 square kilometers with fertile soil allow agriculture and, to a lesser extent, cattle breeding.
About 11% of Iceland is covered by glaciers, including Vatnajökull with 8,300 square kilometers, the largest in the country and also in Europe. For comparison: this glacier is twice as large as all glaciers in the Alps put together. The Icelandic glaciers formed 2,500 years ago and are therefore relatively young.
When Iceland was settled by farmers around 1100, that was it country still quite green and fertile, until around 1400 the temperature dropped and the glaciers were able to expand. This cold period lasted until 100 years ago, today the ice masses are melting again.
In Iceland there are many different types of glaciers, which are divided into the main categories of mountain and cover glaciers. The mountain glaciers are stored in the relief of a mountain range and are divided into valley glaciers, slope glaciers and clear glaciers. The cover glaciers, in turn, form a closed ice surface that covers large parts of a plain. They are divided into inland ice, plateau glaciers and ice caps. Typical for Iceland are also the huge glaciers that are caused by volcanic eruptions and cause unimaginable masses of water to tumble into the valleys. This makes entire areas impassable and the floods roll everything down with their gigantic force on their way into the valley.
Those created on the coast of Iceland Fjords reach up to 130 kilometers deep into the country and transform the 5,000 kilometers long coastline into an impressive and beautiful landscape. Due to the steady surf, the sea undermines the coast consisting of rocks, from which large boulders break off, fall into the sea and form cliffs. As a result, the coast gradually migrates inland.
Iceland is very rich in fresh water due to its huge ice masses. The meltwater from the glaciers collects in 250 rivers, of which the Pjórsá is the longest river in the country at 230 kilometers. The second longest river in Iceland at 206 kilometers, the Jökulsá á Fjöllum, runs in a grandiose canyon in which it falls over five huge waterfalls, which is a breathtaking natural spectacle. Because of their strong currents, almost all Icelandic rivers are not navigable; Europe’s largest waterfalls form on their hard rock edges, the enormous power of which is used in hydropower plants to generate electricity. Lakes there are so many in Iceland that the smallest are not counted. The largest lake is the Pórisvatn, which with 88 square kilometers is about the same size as the Chiemsee.