Physical geography

The most sparsely populated country in Europe, Iceland is an island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Total area: 103,000 sq km. Land area: 100,250 sq km. Coastline: 4,988km. Mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields; coast deeply indented by bays and fjords.


Temperate; moderated by North Atlantic Current; mild, windy winters; damp, cool summers. Average temperatures: Oct-Dec 4.8 to 1.6°C, summer 10°C. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Economic geography</H3> Iceland's Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic, but with an extensive welfare system, relatively low unemployment, and comparatively even distribution of income. The economy is heavily dependent on the fishing industry, which provides nearly 75 per cent of export earnings and employs 12 per cent of the work force. In the absence of other natural resources - except energy - Iceland's economy is vulnerable to changing world fish prices. <P>Industries: fish processing, aluminium smelting, ferro-silicon production, geothermal power. <P>Agriculture: accounts for about 15 per cent of GDP; fishing is most important economic activity; principal crops - potatoes, turnips; livestock - cattle, sheep; fish catch of about 1.1 million metric tons in 1992. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> Population: 265,998 (July 1995 est.). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religions</H3> Evangelical Lutheran 96 per cent, other Protestant and Roman Catholic three per cent, none one per cent (1988). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> Icelandic, a Teutonic language of the Nordic group from Viking days. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> One Icelandic krona (IKr) = 100 aurar. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)</H3> 1 January, New Year's Day; 27 March, Maundy Thursday; 28 March, Good Friday, 31 March, Easter Monday; 24 PAril, First day of Summer; 1st May, Labour Day; 8 May, Ascension Day; 19 May, Whit Monday; 17 June, Independence Day; 4 August, Bank Holiday Monday; 25 December, Christmas Day; 26 December, Boxing Day; 31 December (from noon) New Year's Eve. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> Take a flight over spectacular snow scenery - Fljótsdalur valley past Snæfell and onto a glacier to Kverkfjöll. Pass over hot springs in Kverkfjöll before flying on to lake Öskjuvatn. Dyrfjöll and east past Gerpir, Iceland's easternmost point. We then fly over Skrúur and on to Papey, Öxl and down Skridalur valley to Egilsstair. <P>Relax in the waters of the Blue Lagoon or see Strokkur the gushing geyser. Or marvel at the famous Northern Lights. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> Fish is, needless to say, a very important part of the diet. Shark can be eaten and herring is a special delicacy. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Skiing, horseriding, trekking, sea angling, golf, cycling, birdwatching. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> When travelling in Iceland you should bring along lightweight woollens, a sweater, a rainproof coat ans sturdy walking shoes. Also bring your swimming suit. Travellers capmping or heading into the country's interior will need warm underwear and socks, rubber boots and a warm sleeping bag. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to buy</H3> Local specialities are woollen knitwear (for example, sweaters, cardigans, hats and mittens), handmade ceramics, glassware and silver jewellery, smoked salmon and other fish products. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> A valid passport is necessary for visitors to Iceland, except for citizens of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. <P>Citizens of the following countries may enter Iceland as tourists (max. three months) using, instead of passports, identity cards issued by the competent authorities in their countries of origin: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. <P>A visa is usually not required for visits to Iceland. For further information please contact the Immigration Service, Hverfisgata 115, IS-105 Reykjavik, Tel: +354-569-9065. Emergency outside normal business hours, Tel: +354-569-9021. <H3>Currency reguiations</H3> There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency in letters of credit, traveller's cheques or bank notes which may be brought into Iceland. <H3>Health regulations</H3> No vaccinations are required. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> Iceland air maintains regular scheduled flights from various cities all year round. There is also Air Atlanta Iceland, Gronlandsfly/AS and LTU International Airways from Germany. Icelandair, Islandsflug and Norlandair offer scheduled internal flights to most parts of the country. <P>Iceland and the Faroe Islands can be reached by sea by Smyril Line from Norway and Denmark. You may also use the Eimskip ships. <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>