Iceland Country Overview

Iceland Country Overview

According to educationvv, Iceland is the second largest island country in Europe (after the UK) and the g rößte volcanic island in the world. Within Europe, the country is the most sparsely populated (only an average of 3 residents per square kilometer, for comparison: in Germany in 2009 an average of 232 people lived per square kilometer). Around a third of Icelanders live in the capital, and around 80 percent of the country is completely uninhabited.

Basically, Iceland is one of the peaks of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which crosses the Atlantic Ocean in a north-south direction. From a geological point of view, Iceland is also the youngest country in Europe, it was “only” 16 million years ago that the island was lifted out of the sea. Iceland is located in the North Atlantic, about 330 kilometers to the east of Greenland and about 800 kilometers to the west of Norway just south of the Arctic Circle. The area is characterized by strong volcanic activity, on the 300 km long and 500 km wide island there are about 140 volcanoes, of which about 30 are still active. There are also countless geysers and hot springs in Iceland.

The capital is Reykjavik. For the most part, functional residential buildings, but the city center is definitely worth a visit. There are numerous cafes, restaurants and pubs here. A special feature of the city is the street heating on the main road, which prevents icing (which can otherwise occur throughout the year).

Country Overview

Iceland is a parliamentary republic in the far northwest of Europe. Parliament and government are based in the capital, Reykjavík. The area of ​​the North Atlantic volcanic island is 103,000 km 2, less than a third of Germany. Under the influence of the Gulf Stream, there is a balanced arctic climate. Some plant species such as lichen and moss are endemic to the island. Only a few animal species are native to the rugged landscape between coastal strips, volcanic mountains, lava fields, glaciers and geysers. Settlers or ships introduced reindeer, sheep, rats, mice and horses. Several species of seals and whales live in the fish-rich waters around Iceland. Icelandic is the official language, English is widely spoken. Nordic descendants make up almost four fifths of the population, Poles the largest group of immigrants with almost 5%. Most of the Icelanders belong to the Lutheran State Church, over 6% to other Christian churches. Modern settlement history began at the end of the 9th century with the Norwegian conquest. In 1380 Iceland fell under Danish rule and remained dependent for centuries. After long striving for independence, the country was given its own constitution for the first time in 1874 and largely independent in 1918. Almost 80% of the energy is generated regeneratively, mainly through geothermal energy and hydropower. The fish and aluminum industries as well as tourism are the most important economic sectors. Iceland does not have its own army, but is a member of NATO and the UN.


Surtsey [ syrtsεj, after the fire giant Surtr], volcanic island off the south coast of Iceland, one of the Westman Islands, 1.4 km 2, to 154 m above the sea level; arose from submarine volcanic eruptions in 1963–67 (basaltic lavas and loose products); UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.

Westman Islands

Westman | islands, Icelandic Vestmannaeyjar [ vεstmanaε  jar], group of 15 islands off the southwest coast of Iceland, including the 1963-67 incurred island Surtsey; 16 km 2, 4,200 residents, all on the largest island of Heimaey live (with the place Vestmannaeyjar). The Westman Islands have been formed since the end of the last Ice Age; There are over 50 submarine volcanoes and numerous rocky cliffs (volcanic remains) in the vicinity. Settled since the time of the conquest, the Westman Islands are the most important fishing and processing area in Iceland (especially cod). In the past, catching birds (breeding grounds in summer) and collecting bird eggs were also important.


Akranes, town in Iceland, at the exit of Hvalfjörður, north of Reykjavík, in the metropolitan area (2019) 7 500 residents.

Fishing port with fish and cement industry.


Akureyri [ akyre ː r], second largest city of Iceland, in the north of the island at Eyjafjörður, in the metropolitan area (2019) 18 800 residents.

Commercial and fishing port with fish processing, brewery; University; Botanical garden, museums; Church (1940).

Akureyri has had town charter since 1786.


Keflavík [ kjεblavi ː k], former city in southwestern Iceland, on the Reykjanes peninsula in the Faxabucht, in the metropolitan area (2019) 18 800 residents.

Fishing port with manufacturing industry; international airport, American during the Second World War and by lease since 1946, NATO air base since 1951. Part of Reykjanesbær Municipality since 1994.


Reykjavík [ rεjkjavi ː k; Icelandic, = smoke bay], capital and most important port of Iceland, with (2019) 128,800 residents, located on the always ice-free Faxa Bay in the west of the island.

Almost two thirds of the total population of Iceland live in the Reykjavík metropolitan area. With a university, art academy, national theater and museums, the city is the country’s leading cultural center. The economy is driven by commerce, banking, technology companies, and fish processing.

The cityscape is characterized by relatively young buildings; The landmark is the 74.5 m high Hallgrimskirkja Church (consecrated in 1986). A special feature of the city is that it is heated with natural hot water, some of which is taken from over 300 wells near Reykjavík.

Iceland Country Overview