81 Facts About Iceland


Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean and in the Arctic Ocean.

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Iceland is the biggest part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that rises above sea level, and its central volcanic plateau is erupting almost constantly.

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Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle.

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Iceland thus followed Norway's integration into that union, coming under Danish rule after Sweden seceded from the union in 1523.

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Until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on subsistence fishing and agriculture.

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Industrialization of the fisheries and Marshall Plan aid following World War II brought prosperity, and Iceland became one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world.

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Iceland has a market economy with relatively low taxes, compared to other OECD countries, as well as the highest trade union membership in the world.

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Iceland has the smallest population of any NATO member and is the only one with no standing army, with a lightly armed coast guard.

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The notion that Iceland's Viking settlers chose that name to discourage the settlement of their verdant isle is a myth.

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Swedish Viking explorer Garðar Svavarsson was the first to circumnavigate Iceland in 870 and establish that it was an island.

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Iceland stayed during the winter and built a house in Husavik.

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The Government of Iceland established an embassy in Copenhagen and requested that Denmark carry out on its behalf certain defence and foreign affairs matters, subject to consultation with the Althing.

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Iceland formally became a republic on 17 June 1944, with Sveinn Bjornsson as its first president.

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Iceland hosted a summit in Reykjavik in 1986 between United States President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, during which they took significant steps towards nuclear disarmament.

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Iceland joined the European Economic Area in 1994, after which the economy was greatly diversified and liberalised.

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Iceland is at the juncture of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

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Iceland is closer to continental Europe than to mainland North America, although it is closest to Greenland, an island of North America.

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Iceland is generally included in Europe for geographical, historical, political, cultural, linguistic and practical reasons.

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Iceland is the world's 18th-largest island, and Europe's second-largest island after Great Britain.

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Iceland contains about 30 minor islands, including the lightly populated Grimsey and the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago.

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Geologically, Iceland is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a ridge along which the oceanic crust spreads and forms a new oceanic crust.

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The ridge marks the boundary between the Eurasian and North American Plates, and Iceland was created by rifting and accretion through volcanism along the ridge.

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The island's interior, the Highlands of Iceland, is a cold and uninhabitable combination of sand, mountains, and lava fields.

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Iceland has three national parks: Vatnajokull National Park, Snæfellsjokull National Park, and Þingvellir National Park.

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Iceland has a variety of volcanic types, many producing more evolved lavas such as rhyolite and andesite.

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Iceland has hundreds of volcanoes with about 30 active volcanic systems.

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On 21 March 2010, a volcano in Eyjafjallajokull in the south of Iceland erupted for the first time since 1821, forcing 600 people to flee their homes.

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Phytogeographically, Iceland belongs to the Arctic province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom.

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The most common tree native to Iceland is the northern birch, which formerly formed forests over much of Iceland, along with aspens, rowans, common junipers, and other smaller trees, mainly willows.

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The tallest tree in Iceland is a sitka spruce planted in 1949 in Kirkjubæjarklaustur; it was measured at 25.

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Many species of fish live in the ocean waters surrounding Iceland, and the fishing industry is a major part of Iceland's economy, accounting for roughly half of the country's total exports.

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Iceland was the first country in the world to have a political party formed and led entirely by women.

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In 2016, Iceland was ranked second in the strength of its democratic institutions and 13th in government transparency.

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Governments of Iceland have always been coalition governments, with two or more parties involved, as no single political party has ever received a majority of seats in the Althing throughout the republican period.

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In 2009, Iceland became the first country with an openly gay head of government when Johanna Sigurðardottir became prime minister.

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Iceland, which is a member of the UN, NATO, EFTA, Council of Europe, and OECD, maintains diplomatic and commercial relations with practically all nations, but its ties with the Nordic countries, Germany, the United States, Canada, and the other NATO nations are particularly close.

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Iceland'storically, due to cultural, economic, and linguistic similarities, Iceland is a Nordic country, and it participates in intergovernmental cooperation through the Nordic Council.

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Iceland is a member of the European Economic Area, which allows the country access to the single market of the European Union .

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Iceland Defense Force was a military command of the United States Armed Forces from 1951 to 2006.

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Iceland supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq despite much domestic controversy, deploying a Coast Guard EOD team to Iraq, which was replaced later by members of the Iceland Crisis Response Unit.

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Iceland has participated in the conflict in Afghanistan and the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

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Iceland was the neutral host of the historic 1986 Reagan–Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik, which set the stage for the end of the Cold War.

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Iceland is listed in Guinness World Records as the "country ranked most at peace" and the "lowest military spending per capita".

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In 2007, Iceland was the seventh-most productive country in the world per capita, and the fifth-most productive by GDP at purchasing power parity .

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About 85 percent of the total primary energy supply in Iceland is derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources.

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Until the 20th century, Iceland was a fairly poor country.

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Iceland is the only country in the world to have a population under two million yet still have a floating exchange rate and an independent monetary policy.

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Iceland is ranked 27th in the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, lower than in prior years but still among the freest in the world.

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Unlike most Western European countries, Iceland has a flat tax system: the main personal income tax rate is a flat 22.

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Property rights are strong and Iceland is one of the few countries where they are applied to fishery management.

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The OECD Economic Survey of Iceland 2008 highlighted Iceland's challenges in currency and macroeconomic policy.

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An assessment by the OECD 2011 determined that Iceland has made progress in many areas, particularly in creating a sustainable fiscal policy and restoring the health of the financial sector; however, challenges remain in making the fishing industry more efficient and sustainable, as well as in improving monetary policy to address inflation.

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Iceland had been hit especially hard by the Great Recession that began in December 2007 because of the failure of its banking system and a subsequent economic crisis.

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The Financial Supervisory Authority of Iceland used permission granted by the emergency legislation to take over the domestic operations of the three largest banks.

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Iceland has a high level of car ownership per capita, with a car for every 1.

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Route 1, or the Ring Road, was completed in 1974, and is the main road that runs around Iceland and connects all the inhabited parts of the island, with the interior of the island being uninhabited.

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Iceland is one of the few countries that have filling stations dispensing hydrogen fuel for cars powered by fuel cells.

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Nevertheless, in 2010, Iceland was reported by Guinness World Records as "the Greenest Country", reaching the highest score by the Environmental Sustainability Index, which measures a country's water use, biodiversity and adoption of clean energies, with a score of 93.

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On 22 January 2009, Iceland announced its first round of offshore licences for companies wanting to conduct hydrocarbon exploration and production in a region northeast of Iceland, known as the Dreki area.

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Iceland was ranked 17th in the Global Innovation Index in 2021, up from 20th in 2019.

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Iceland has extensive genealogical records dating back to the late 17th century and fragmentary records extending back to the Age of Settlement.

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Large-scale construction projects in the east of Iceland have brought in many people whose stay is expected to be temporary.

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Iceland has a universal health care system that is administered by its Ministry of Welfare and paid for mostly by taxes and to a lesser extent by service fees .

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Iceland has many campaigns for health and wellbeing, including the famous television show Lazytown, starring and created by former gymnastics champion Magnus Scheving.

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Iceland has a very low level of pollution, thanks to an overwhelming reliance on cleaner geothermal energy, a low population density, and a high level of environmental consciousness among citizens.

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Iceland is a very secular country; as with other Nordic nations, church attendance is relatively low.

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In recent times, Iceland has produced many great writers, the best-known of whom is arguably Halldor Laxness, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955 .

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The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik Municipal Art Museum, Reykjavik Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Iceland are the larger, more established institutions, curating shows and festivals.

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Iceland is home to LazyTown, a children's educational musical comedy programme created by Magnus Scheving.

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Much of Iceland's cuisine is based on fish, lamb, and dairy products, with little to no use of herbs or spices.

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The main traditional sport in Iceland is Glima, a form of wrestling thought to have originated in medieval times.

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For both the European and the world championships, Iceland is to date the smallest nation in terms of population to qualify.

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Iceland is the smallest country to ever qualify for Eurobasket, having done so in both 2015 and 2017.

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Iceland has excellent conditions for skiing, fishing, snowboarding, ice climbing and rock climbing, although mountain climbing and hiking are preferred by the general public.

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Iceland is a world-class destination for alpine ski touring and Telemark skiing, with the Troll Peninsula in Northern Iceland being the main centre of activity.

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Iceland has won the second most World's Strongest Man competitions of any country with nine titles, including four by both Magnus Ver Magnusson and Jon Pall Sigmarsson and most recently Hafþor Julius Bjornsson in 2018.

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Iceland had achieved a total of 41, including 33 performance based Guinness World Records by 2020.

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Oldest sports association in Iceland is the Reykjavik Shooting Association, founded in 1867.

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Iceland has produced many chess masters and hosted the historic World Chess Championship 1972 in Reykjavik during the height of the Cold War.

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Bridge is popular, with Iceland participating in several international tournaments.

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Iceland won the world bridge championship in Yokohama, Japan, in 1991 and took second place in Hamilton, Bermuda, in 1950.

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