Iceland in the North Atlantic is the island of
sagas, volcanoes and glaciers. But in 2008, the country
also became the epitome of the fragility of the modern
loan economy as one of the world's richest societies
plunged into deep crisis. Since then, Iceland has
recovered and fishing and tourism are today the
foundation of the economy.
Brief profiles of Iceland, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Iceland forms a northern part of the Atlantic
Central Ridge, a volcanic mountain range that runs from
north to south on the bottom of the Atlantic. From
Iceland to Greenland in the west it is just under 30 km,
and the Faroe Islands are just over 40 km to the
The land is roughly the same size as Lapland.
Iceland's shattered bedrock is made up of basalt, tough
and younger layers of lava. In the south, the coast is
flat, while it is often steep and torn apart by fjords
and surrounded by small islands. The hinterland consists
of a high plateau with some higher mountain peaks.
Just over a tenth of Iceland's surface is covered by
ice in the form of glaciers, glaciers. Vatnajökull is
Europe's largest glacier. Iceland has plenty of rivers,
waterfalls and lakes. Mývatn is a famous bird lake. In
some watercourses, violent floods, so-called glaciers,
occur when ice and water masses are released from the
glaciers, sometimes due to volcanic eruptions.
The Icelandic landscape is almost treeless with
grasslands, mountain moors and marshes. Nowadays, only
remnants of ancient forests of mountain birch are left.
Sweat farming and logging have caused soil erosion, and
in the interior there are large desert-like areas of
gravel and rock where no plants can grow.
Iceland lies on the intersection of two continental
plates that slowly move in each direction, releasing the
redness of magma from the earth's mantle. Earthquakes
are common, really difficult occur every 80 to 100
years. Of the country's many volcanoes, some 30 are
still active. In the last few centuries, an average
outbreak has occurred every five years. In 2010 and
2011, the volcanoes Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn
erupted, which spread ash clouds across much of Europe.
Sometimes the consequences are disastrous. In 1783,
Lakagígar spewed out more lava than any other volcano in
the world in historical times, and the poisonous gases
and ash clouds caused the growth and famine of Iceland.
Other well-known Icelandic volcanoes are Hekla, Katla,
Krafla and Askja. Hekla is known in Sweden as
Häcklefjäll, which in medieval folk belief was a
supposed decline to hell. During a violent volcanic
eruption on the seabed southwest of Vestmannaeyjar (Westman
Islands) in 1963, a brand new island, Surtsey, rose from
There are also hundreds of hot springs in Iceland.
The vapors can be seen among other things at Reykjavík,
which gave the capital its name, "Rökviken". There are
also geysers and springs with boiling mud and sulfur.
Iceland is just south of the Arctic Circle, but
thanks to the Gulf Stream, the country has a relatively
mild climate with cool summers and not too cold winters.
Most ports are ice-free year-round. Some years, drift
ice from Greenland causes severe temperature reductions.
A constant flow of low pressure from the west gives
windy and windy weather. Southeast Iceland receives the
most rain, while the north coast is drier.
For about a hundred years, Iceland's glaciers have
been melting. There are examples of land areas that have
been covered for almost 500 years but are now visible.
Vatnajökull (see Geography) melts faster than other
glaciers, and its kilometer-thick ice cover is estimated
to shrink by one meter per year.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
103 020 km2 (2018)
Swedish –1 hour
Capital with number of inhabitants
Reykjavik 118 200 (2012)
Other major cities
Kópavogur 31 200, Hafnarfjordur 26 500, Akureyri 17
Hvannadalshnúkur (in Öraefajökull, 2110 m asl)
Average Precipitation / month
Reykjavik 97 mm (Oct), 41 mm (June)
Average / day
Reykjavik 11 °C (July), 1 °C (Jan)
Yet another new law on Icesave
Iceland agrees with the Netherlands and the UK on a new agreement on the
Icesave debt. By lowering the interest rate, the Icelandic state's payment
liability is reduced.
Haarde is facing national law
A parliamentary commission recommends that former Prime Minister Geir Haarde
and three of his ministers be brought to justice for serious negligence that
contributed to the Icelandic banking crisis. The Commission is divided
politically and the fight threatens to crack the government when the Socialist
Prime Minister declares a party mate innocent. Everything votes to only put
Haarde before national law. Other designated ministers are acquitted.
Clear sign for EU negotiations
At a summit within the Union, the European Commission gives clear signs of
negotiations with Iceland on membership.
Volcanic eruptions impede air traffic
The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano (see Geography) blocks Europe's
air traffic during a period.
Seven people are appointed in the investigation of the banking crisis
A public inquiry into the causes of the Icelandic banking crisis has been
ongoing since 2008 and is now complete. Seven leading politicians and civil
servants receive harsh criticism for "extremely serious negligence". A
parliamentary committee is commissioned to decide whether to bring the seven
persons to trial in the so-called national court (national court). Among the
people criticized are former Prime Minister Davíð Oddsson, former Prime Minister
Geir Haarde and former Finance Minister Árni M. Mathiesen.
No to the Icesave law in the referendum
Prime Minister Sigurðardóttir calls on Icelanders to boycott the referendum,
which she believes is meaningless. However, six out of ten voters go to the
polls, and over 93 percent say no to the law. Only 1.8 percent support the yes
The president stops the Icesave law
President Grímsson vetoes the new Icesave law after nearly a quarter of all
eligible Icelanders signed a call for the president to stop the law and to hold
a referendum on the issue. The parliament decides that a referendum will be held