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Introduction: Iceland, basic facts (the s.c.nordic FAQ)
nordic flags
The home pages for the Usenet newsgroup soc.culture.nordic
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Introduction: Iceland, basic facts


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Akureyri
Akureyri
the town on the north coast of Iceland

 



Subject: 5.1 

Fact Sheet


Name:

Lýðveldið Ísland
Area: 103,000 km² / 39,758 sq mi.
(Glaciers: 12,000 km²,
lava: 11,000 km²,
lakes: 3,000 km²,
arable land: 1,100 km²).
Sea area
(within 200 nautical miles
of fishery limits):
758,000 km²
Terrain: mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks and ice fields;
coast highly indented by bays and fjords,
particularly in the north and northwest.
Highest mountain: Hvannadalshnúkur, 2119 m.
Largest ice cap: Vatnajökull, 8,400 km².
Telephone country code: 354
Internet domain code: .is
Land boundaries: none
Population: 267,000 (1996)
Population density: 2.5 persons per km² (6.5 per sq mi)
Distribution: 90% urban, 10% rural (1990)
Infant mortality: 4 per 1,000 live births (1992)
Life expectancy: male: 76.5, female: 81.0 (1993)
Capital: Reykjavík (pop. 101,824) (1993)
Other major towns: Kópavogur: (17,172),
Hafnarfjörður: (16,787)
Akureyri: (14,799) (1993)
Flag: a red Nordic cross outlined in white on a blue background
Government Type: republic
Head of State: President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Language: Icelandic
Currency: króna (Icelandic crown, ISK).
Climate: coolish, but temperate, warmed by the Gulf stream. Average temp.
in Reykjavík: -2°C - 2°C in Jan. and 9°C - 14°C in July.
Religion: Evangelical-Lutheran (96%) (official State religion)
Exports: Fishery products: 78.7%
Industrial products: 17.6%
Agricultural products: 1.7%
Other products: 2.0% (1993)

Cars per 1000 inhabitants (1989):         458
Telephones per 1000 inhabitants (1989):   503
Televisions per 1000 inhabitants (1988):  306
Doctors per 1000 inhabitants (1989)         2.8

Employment by proportion of population: (1991)

  Agriculture................ 5.4%
  Fishing.................... 5.5%
  Fish processing............ 6.0%
  Other industry.............12.5%
  Building industry.......... 9.8%
  Commerce...................14.6%
  Transport & communications. 6.9%
  Finance & insurance........ 8.4%
  Public sector..............18.5%
  Other......................12.4%
  Total                     100.0%



National Anthem

 
Ó Guð vors lands, ó lands vors Guð!
Vér lofum þitt heilaga, heilaga nafn!
Úr sólkerfum himnanna hnýta þér krans
þínir herskarar tímanna safn.
Fyrir þér er einn dagur sem þúsund ár,
og þúsund ár dagur, ei meir.
eitt eilífðar smáblóm med titrandi tár,
sem tilbiður Guð sinn og deyr.
    Íslands þúsund ár, Íslands þúsund ár,
eitt eilífðar smáblóm med titrandi tár,
sem tilbiður Guð sinn og deyr.
Our country's God! Our country's God!
We worship Thy name in its wonder sublime.
The suns of the heavens are set in thy crown
By thy legions, the ages of time!
With Thee is each day as a thousand years,
Each thousand of years, but a day.
Eternity's flow'r, with its homage of tears,
That reverently passes away.
    Iceland's thousand years!
Eternity's flow'r, with its homage of tears,
That reverently passes away.

Translation by Jakobina Johnson

 


Subject: 5.2 

General information

<By: Halldór Árnason et al.>
Two maps:

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Where are the towns?
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Here you see the glaciers
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5.2.1 Geography, climate, vegetation

Iceland is the second-largest island in Europe, after Great Britain. It's the western-most country in Europe, located high in the North Atlantic, atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge which is an area of active volcanism. The island was actually formed by numerous volcanos, many of which are still active, sometimes creating new islands out of the sea.

Vegetation covers less than one-fifth of Iceland's area and only about 1.1% is cultivated. Trees, mostly birch, grow in some places, along with some willows. The rest of the country is barren mountains, and deserts (lava beds cover some 11% of Iceland) and glaciers (12%). Vatnajökull (Lakes' Glacier) in the southeast is the largest Ice field in Europe and Ódáðahraun (Lava of ill deeds) north of Vatnajökull is the largest lava bed on earth. Rivers and waterfalls are plenty, and provide hydroelectric power. Over 90% of homes are heated by hot springs, which also keep greenhouses warm, where the famous Icelandic bananas are grown.

 


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Iceland - >>


5.2.2 Economy

Fishing accounts for Iceland's main exports, although it employs only about 12% of the work force. The country has no railroads, but a network of highways and secondary roads provides access to all inhabited parts of Iceland. Air transportation also plays an important role, both locally and internationally, through the main airports at Reykjavík and at Keflavík, where also a U.S. Naval Air Station is located (Iceland has no military force of its own but is a founding member of NATO).

 


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5.2.3 Government

Iceland is a constitutional republic governed by a general assembly, the Althing (Alþingi), which is sometimes called the oldest democratic institution in existence. The President is elected every four years by universal suffrage for all persons over 18 years of age. Icelanders seem to like their Presidents, because a President running for re-election has in nine times out of ten gone unopposed, and the tenth time won by a landslide. Real executive power is held by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Fore more information, see the URL <http://www.althingi.is/~wwwadm/upplens.shtml>.

 


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5.2.4 Population and language

Iceland's population is a homogeneous mixture of Scandinavian and Celtic origin. Unlike the other Nordic countries there are no dialects to speak of. The language spoken in Iceland has changed very little since the island was settled, some 11 centuries ago. Icelandic and Faroese are the only Scandinavian languages to have kept the complicated inflection system of the Old Norse spoken during the Viking age.

The Icelandic alphabeth has the following order:
a á b c d ð e é f g h i í j k l m n o ó p q r s t u ú v w x y ý z þ æ ö



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© Copyright 1994-2001 by Antti Lahelma.
You are free to quote this page as long as you mention the URL.
The line of flags is modified after a picture at det Åländska skoldatanätet.
This page was last updated February the 21st in the year of 1999.

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