Facts About Iceland

Flag: Iceland flag The colors are symbolic for three of the elements that make up the island: red is for the volcanic fires, white recalls the snow and glaciers, and blue is for the skies above.

Location: Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the United Kingdom.

Population: 329,100 (Jan 2015). An estimated 7% (23,000) of the population is of foreign-born nationality.

Median age: 37.1 years.

Capital city: Reykjavík.

The largest municipalities: Reykjavík (121,800); Kópavogur (33,200); Hafnarfjördur (27,900); Akureyri (18,200); Reykjanesbær (14,900).

Size: 103,000 sq. km (40,000 sq. miles), bigger than Hungary and Portugal and a little bit smaller than Kentucky.

Government: Iceland is a parliamentary constitutional republic. The president is elected by direct popular vote for a term of four years, with no term limit. Most executive power rests with the Government, which is elected separately from the presidential elections every four years. Althingi is a legislative body of 63 members elected for a term of four years by popular vote. Judicial power lies with the Supreme Court and the district courts. Language: The official language of Iceland is Icelandic, a North Germanic language derived from Old Norse. It has changed relatively little throughout the centuries. English is widely spoken and understood.

Religion: Most Icelanders (80%) are members of the Lutheran State Church. Another 5% are registered in other Christian denominations, including the Free Church of Iceland and the Roman Catholic Church. Almost 5% of people practice ásatrú, the traditional Norse religion.

Economy: GDP = $14.5 billion.

Unemployment rate: 5%. Currency: The Icelandic monetary unit is the króna (plural krónur) – ISK.

Time: Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) throughout the year, and does not go on daylight saving time.

Natural Hazards: Earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Volcanism: Iceland, situated on top of a hotspot, experiences severe volcanic activity; Eyjafjallajokull (elev. 1,666 m) erupted in 2010, sending ash high into the atmosphere and seriously disrupting European air traffic; scientists continue to monitor nearby Katla (elev. 1,512 m), which has a high probability of eruption in the very near future, potentially disrupting air traffic; Grimsvoetn and Hekla are Iceland's most active volcanoes; other historically active volcanoes include Askja, Bardarbunga, Brennisteinsfjoll, Esjufjoll, Hengill, Krafla, Krisuvik, Kverkfjoll, Oraefajokull, Reykjanes, Torfajokull, and Vestmannaeyjar.