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   Whale Centre in Húsavík, N.Iceland  

About Iceland
About Reykjavik
How to come Iceland
Business Opportunities
Links on Iceland
Map
Weather
Official Name:
The Republic of Iceland (in Icelandic, Lýđveldiđ Ísland).

Country
Iceland comprises one large island and numerous smaller ones, and is situated near the Arctic Circle. Iceland is sometimes called the “land of ice and fire”
for the striking contrasts in its landscapes, where grand glaciers and magnificent fjords coexist with over 200
volcanoes, many of which are still active today.

Geologically speaking, Iceland is the youngest country in Europe, formed only 16-20 million years ago by volcanic eruptions on the North Atlantic seabed. The rift can clearly be seen running through Iceland where the American and European continental plates are moving apart, making the country spread by 1-2 cm a year. Its land area measures 103,000 km 2 (40,000 square miles).


Population                                                                                                                                

Population in Iceland is 300.000 (January. 9th, 2006). Population density: 3 per square kilometre. Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe (seventh in the world). Most of the people are of Norwegian descent, with some admixture of Celtic blood from
those who came from Ireland and the Scottish islands.

Life expectancy in Iceland (2001) is among the highest in the world. Average life expectancy at birth for females is 81,4 years and for males 77,6 years. Infant mortality is among the lowest in the world, 3,0 per 1000 live births.

Capital

Reykjavík, population
114,800
Greater Reykjavík Area, population
187,000
 

Religion
Complete religious freedom is safeguarded in the constitution. The largest denomination is the Evangelical Lutheran Church (state church of Iceland) to which 87.1% of the population belong.

Christianity was adopted in Iceland – one of few countries where this took place peacefully – in the year 1000 at Thingvellir, the ancient parliament site.

Education
Education is mandatory from 6 to 15 years of age. There are 50 schools and colleges at secondary level, where one out of every three Icelanders in the age group 16-19 is studying. University-level education is offered at five establishments in Iceland and one in every five Icelanders aged 20-24 is studying at university or a comparable institution, in Iceland or abroad.

 
Skálholt, S.Iceland

Language
The Icelandic language belongs to the Nordic family and is virtually unchanged from the ancient Viking tongue spoken since the settlement. Icelandic is one of the oldest living languages in Europe. The Icelanders have comprehensive records of their origin as a nation, in their native language: the Sagas.

Danish and English are mandatory subjects in school. Literacy is 99.9%, the highest in the world.

History
The first people believed to have settled in Iceland were Irish monks who came in the eight century AD. They left, however, with the arrival of pagan Norsemen, who came in 874 to seek freedom from Norway’s oppressive king Harald Fairhair. In 930 the Icelanders founded the Althing, their supreme general assembly, the oldest national parliament in the world. They had no king, a unique arrangement at that time.
Christianity was adopted in 1000, the same year that Icelandic-born Leifur Eiríksson (Leif the Lucky) became the first European to set foot in North America.

In 1262, Iceland became subject to Norwegian control and in 1380 came under Danish control, along with Norway. After the granting of a constitution (1874) and with an improving economy, Iceland finally became an independent sovereign state under the Danish king in 1918. The Republic of Iceland was formally declared on June 17, 1944.


Burstarfell folk museum in Vopnafjörđur

Government
Parliamentary democracy. A centre-right coalition was formed in 1995 by the Independence Party (IP) and the Progressive Party
(PP), and continued for a second term after the general election in May 1999.

The Prime Minister is Davíđ Oddsson, chairman of the IP. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is Halldór Ásgrímsson, chairman of the PP. In the May 1999 general election, seats were won by the IP (26), PP (12), Social Democratic Alliance (17), Left Greens (6) and Liberals (2).

Head of State
His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland, was inaugurated for his second term of office in August 2000. 
First elected in 1996, he was a professor of political science at the University of Iceland and a member of the Icelandic parliament
(including a term as finance minister) before he was elected president.

International organizations
Iceland is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations and its agencies, the European Economic Area and the Schengen Co-operation on free passage over European borders, NATO, the Council of Europe, OECD, EFTA, WTO and the Nordic Council.

Air transport
Daily flights link Iceland with more than 20 gateways in Europe and North America. Flight time is 2-4 hours to Western Europe
and 5-6 hours to North America. Domestic services operate to several main regional communities, with a flight time of less than one hour.

Shipping
Some 99% of imports and exports are carried by marine transport. There were 40 merchant vessels registered in the Icelandic shipping
fleet at the beginning of 2002. Fishing and fish processing is the main economic activity in Iceland, accounting for 40% of foreign
currency revenues, and the fishing fleet numbered 80 trawlers and 875 smaller vessels on January 1, 2002.

Economic indicators for 2004  last updated: 31/01/2006
Gross Domestic Product Million ISK 885,009
Gross Domestic Product per capital ISK 2,950,000(USD43137)
Economic growth 6.2%
Inflation 5.4%
Annual average unemployment  4.1%
Foreinger Passengers in 2005 356,152
Main Cities
Reykjavík is the capital city of Iceland.
Population of main cities and towns as of Dec. 2005:
Greater Reykjavík Area 187,000
Reykjavík (SW) 114,800
Kópavogur (SW) 26,468
Hafnarfjörđur (SW) 22,451
Akureyri (N) 16,736

Weather
Iceland is by no means as cold as its name would suggest, thanks to the Gulf Stream which keeps its ports ice-free all year round.

Temperature: Average temperatures in Reykjavík range from about 0°C (32°F) in December and January to 12°C (54°F) in July and
August. Inland temperatures are generally lower. The weather in Iceland is notoriously changeable and travellers should always be
prepared for all kinds of weather, and even sharp contrasts within the same day.

Medical Service
Iceland offers a very high standard of healthcare services which is virtually free – only nominal charges are made. The following
conditions apply to healthcare for visitors to Iceland, depending upon whether they are from the European Economic Area or not:

Citizens of the Nordic Countries and Great Britain must have medical insurance and a valid identification in case of medical emergency. Other citizens of EEA countries must have with them the E-111 form, which may be obtained from their respective health insurance companies. Failing this, patients will be charged in full. Similarly, citizens of other countries must show proof of valid medical insurance, otherwise they will be charged in full. For further information on medical insurance contact the Icelandic Embassy or Consulate in your
country.

Within the EEA: Patients shall complete a form and produce a photocopy of their passports on being admitted for medical care. In the case of emergency treatment, they must present the E-111 form, filled in and signed by an insurance company in their home country, before being discharged from hospital. Visitors domiciled in Nordic Countries and Great Britain are exempted from needing to present the E-111 form. If an emergency is not involved, patients pay their own costs.

Outside the EEA: Patients pay their own costs. Patients who are insured in their own countries will have the cost reimbursed there. Vaccinations are only needed if visitors come from countries where infectious diseases such as cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, etc. are known

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