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    January 01 2015

    About Iceland

    Iceland is an island nation in the North Atlantic located halfway between Europe and North America. On a map, we're only the size of a small Midwestern state in the U.S., but up close, Iceland offers a tremendous display of glistening fjords, tumbling waterfalls, vast volcanic black deserts, and bright green, glacier-cut valleys. There is no place on earth quite like Iceland; it is a timeless land where humans have lived in harmony with nature for more than a thousand years. We invite you to experience our country for yourself.

    Population

    Over 320,000 people call Iceland home. Imagine spreading the city of Cincinnati across the entire state of Ohio—that's how much space we have. As one of the least densely populated countries in the world, Iceland remains one of the purest places on earth.
     
    Iceland’s small size and neighborly and inviting culture have resulted in strong family values that resonate throughout the country. Children are a priority and Iceland boasts a higher birth rate than any country in the European Union. Pure products and a healthy natural environment have blessed Icelanders with one of the longest life expectancies in the world.

    Travel

    Magnificent landscapes, stunning skies, and real adventure make Iceland one of the most coveted year-round travel destinations in the world. Far more people visit Iceland than live here—a testament to its irresistible draw. In Iceland, you can experience some of the wildest terrain on the planet while enjoying the warmth and comfort of first-class travel. Our pristine nature and laid-back personalities make a great combination. Plus, there are certain things you can only do in Iceland—like stand at the edge of Europe's largest waterfall or watch the Northern Lights from a natural outdoor hot tub. If you’re still not sold, Iceland is much closer than you think—just a short five-hour flight from North America’s eastern seaboard. It's exotic, affordable, and a must-see for any true traveler. What's more, Americans and Canadians require no visa to visit Iceland.

    Important Travel Links:

    Folklore

    Icelanders’ natural knack for storytelling helps them explain their strange and beautiful landscapes—such as lava rocks, the shifting mist and the midnight sun—all inspire a deep and wonderful folklore to outsiders.

    Did you know?

    • Iceland boasts four guardian spirits—a dragon, an eagle, a bull, and a giant—depicted on the national coat of arms.

    • Iceland's flag is a red and white Nordic cross on a blue background, symbolizing fire, snow, and the clear sky.

    • The national anthem is Ó, Guð vors lands or “God of our Land”.

    • The national flower is the glacier poppy, or jöklasóley. [image of glacier poppy]

    • The national bird is the gyrfalcon.

    Nature & Environment

    Iceland's weather varies from clear sunny days to blustery arctic storms, and yet things never get too cold; our naturally heated ground and the Gulf Stream keep temperatures mild year round.
     
    Iceland’s beautiful, bare landscapes highlight the four basic elements—earth, air, fire, and water—in the most dramatic way. Our active volcanoes, bright green valleys, glacier-cut fjords, black sand beaches, and roaring rivers are easily accessible yet remain virtually untouched by human civilization. In this fast-paced world of sprawling development, Iceland's pure nature and empty expanses stand out as a luxury.

    Animals

    Not only are our landscapes dramatic and breathtaking, but our wildlife is as well! Iceland is home to the largest population of puffins in the world, with devoted birdwatchers flocking to our shores to see dozens of rare species up close and personal. Our waters are home to a range of whales and dolphins, while arctic fox and reindeer herds roam our hills. Some of our most treasured creatures are the majestic Icelandic horses, which freely roam our picturesque countryside. We know the importance of healthy wildlife and are dedicated to protecting our flora and fauna.

    Water

    Iceland's water is some of the purest in the world. Clean air, regular precipitation and the natural filtration of volcanic rock lend themselves to a steady reserve of pristine water. Whether you're in Iceland or at home, there are many ways to enjoy Icelandic water.

    Drink

    • Icelandic Glacial: Iceland’s Ölfus Spring is the source for Icelandic Glacial – an award winning, super-premium natural spring water.  Formed more than 5,000 years ago and shielded by an impenetrable barrier of lava rock, the Ölfus Spring is constantly replenished by rain, snow and ice-melt from the nearby mountains.
    • Reyka Vodka: Arctic glacial water. Lava rock filtration. A distillery powered by the geo-thermal energy of volcanoes. Reyka’s not just made in Iceland. It’s Made of Iceland.

    Soak

    • Blue Lagoon: One of 25 wonders of the world, Blue Lagoon has been innovative in harnessing Iceland’s geothermal waters to develop different spa services and products.

    Swim

    • Swimming is a regular part of Icelandic culture and thanks to our many thermal pools you can swim outdoors all year round, no matter the weather. 

    Sustainable Energy

    Currently, over 80% of Iceland's total energy consumption is derived from hydro and geothermal sources partly provided by Landsvirkjun, the National Power Company. This impressive statistic makes Iceland the cleanest energy consumer in the world. Fast-flowing rivers and volcanic hotspots provide power, heat, and fuel to Icelanders, while innovative new technologies are being developed to help other countries. Today, Iceland is making important advances in hydrogen power, while methane-fueled garbage trucks clean the streets of Reykjavík.

    Business

    Iceland is renowned for its progressive business culture that fosters innovation and new opportunities. Despite past economic hardships, Iceland exhibits a healthy investment climate due to the country's sound infrastructure, well-educated workforce, and rapid recovery model. Promote Iceland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs facilitate business in Iceland while promoting Icelandic companies in the international marketplace. Recently, Iceland has become a Hollywood hotspot, with many major blockbusters using our rugged countryside as a backdrop for production. Consulting and marketing services are also available, along with information about exciting investment opportunities.
     
    Icelandic business culture is professional and personal. Iceland is a small country—people tend to know one another and make friends quickly. Those who do business with Iceland have developed lifelong relationships with their counterparts. You will find that Icelanders value honesty, accountability, independence, and friendship. Keeping one's word carries the same weight as legal and contractual arrangements.

    Government

    Iceland is a democratic republic with an elected parliament, president and Supreme Court who govern according to a written constitution. The Prime Minister of Iceland is Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and the President of Iceland is Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Iceland is fiercely democratic: Voter turnout is remarkably high (up to 90%) and even the smallest rural communities make decisions in elected local town councils. Icelandic political culture favors equality, human rights, and a strong social safety net for all.

    Iceland is an active member of the global community and is dedicated to all international cooperation that promotes peace, sustainability, and the respect of international law. Iceland is a member of several international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, the Nordic Council, the WTO, and the European Economic Area (EEA).

    Read more at the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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