Iceland is a modern European economy with strong economic foundations in fisheries, natural renewable energy sources and human capital that will allow Iceland to overcome the economic difficulties it is going through, like so many other countries around the world.
Iceland’s population 2012: 320,137 of which the vast majority or around 2/3 lives in the capital, Reykjavik, and surrounding areas.
Iceland is a republic, has a written constitution and a parliamentary form of government. 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.
Iceland was the last European country to be settled, mostly by Norsemen in the 9th and 10th centuries. They came mainly from Norway and elsewhere in Scandinavia, and from the Norse settlements in the British Isles, from where a Celtic element was also introduced. The language and culture of Iceland were predominantly Scandinavian from the outset, but there are traces of Celtic influence in some of the ancient poetry, in some personal names and in the apperance of present-day Icelanders.
In environmental terms, Iceland is unique. Iceland is a small country (103,000 km², about the same surface area as Ireland or the State of Virginia), but is sparsely populated, with only 3 persons per km² living mostly along the coast. The interior of the country contains stunning contrasts. It is largely an arctic desert, punctuated with mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and waterfalls. Most of the vegetation and agricultural areas are in the lowlands close to the coastline.