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Introduction of Iceland home > Icelandic Impression > Introduction of Iceland


Iceland, officially the Republic of Iceland (Icelandic: Ísland or Lýðveldið Ísland) is a country of northwestern Europe, comprising the island of Iceland and its outlying islets in the North Atlantic Ocean between the rest of Europe and Greenland. As of April 2007, it had an approximate population of 310,000. Its capital and largest city is Reykjavík.

Due to its location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland is volcanically and geologically active on a large scale; this identifies the landscape in various ways. The interior mainly consists of a plateau characterized by sand fields, mountains and glaciers, while many big glacial rivers stream to the sea through the lowlands. Due to the Gulf Stream, Iceland has a temperate climate relative to its latitude, which provides a habitable environment and nature.

Iceland has a history of habitation since about the year 874 when, according to Landnámabók, the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfur Arnarson became the first permanent Norwegian settler on the island. Others had visited the island earlier and stayed over winter. Over the next centuries, people of Nordic and Gaelic origin settled in Iceland. Until the twentieth century, the Icelandic population relied on fisheries and agriculture, and was from 1262 to 1944 a part of the Norwegian and later the Danish monarchies. In the twentieth century, Iceland's economy and welfare system developed quickly.

Today, Iceland is a developed country, the world's fifth and second in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and human development respectively. It is based upon a free market economy where service, finance, fishing and various industries are the main sectors. Tourism is popular, as many people are attracted to Iceland's exotic scenery. Iceland is a member of the UN, NATO, EFTA, EEA and OECD, but not of the European Union.

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