Fast Facts

Population:
295,000
Capital:
Reykjavík; 184,000
Area:
103,000 square kilometers (39,769 square miles)
Language:
Icelandic, English, Nordic languages, German
Religion:
Evangelical Lutheran
Currency:
Icelandic krona
Life Expectancy:
80
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $30,200
Literacy Percent:
100
Flag: Iceland
Map: Iceland

A volcanic island, Iceland is Europe's westernmost country and home to the world's northernmost capital city, Reykjavík. Although glaciers cover more than a tenth of the island, the Gulf Stream and warm southwesterly winds moderate the climate—most residents occupy the country's southwest. Established in 930, the national assembly, or Althingi, is the world's oldest continuous parliament. Under the Danish crown for more than 500 years, the country became a republic in 1944. Almost all of Iceland's electricity and heating come from hydroelectric power and geothermal water reserves. Explosive geysers, relaxing geothermal spas, glacier-fed waterfalls like Gullfoss (Golden Falls), and whale watching attract more than 270,000 visitors a year.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Fish processing, aluminum, smelting, ferrosilicon production, geothermal power
  • Agriculture: Potatoes, green vegetables, chicken, pork; fish
  • Exports: Fish and fish products, animal products, aluminum, diatomite, ferrosilicon

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

Related Features

  • Picture of a family at Myvatn Lake, Iceland

    Best Family Trip: Iceland's Ring Road

    See trip details for Iceland's Ring Road, one of our best family trips from National Geographic.

  • Photo: Waterfalls on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

    Best of the World 2012

    It's time to start planning your adventures for 2012. Here are Traveler magazine's 20 best places in the world to visit, including Iceland.

  • Photo: Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Iceland

    Icelandic Landscapes Pictures

    Over the centuries, humans (and sheep) have taken a toll on the volcano- and glacier-shaped landscape. But what remains is still spectacular.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

2014 Traveler Photo Contest

  • Picture of people on the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

    Enter Today to Win!

    Submit your best shots for a chance to be featured in our weekly galleries and to win a grand prize trip for two to Alaska.