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Island country, northern Atlantic Ocean, between Norway and Greenland. Area: 39,769 sq mi (103,000 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 318,000. Capital: Reykjavík. The people are overwhelmingly Nordic. Language: Icelandic (official). Religion: Christianity (Evangelical Lutheran [official]). Currency: króna. One of the most active volcanic regions in the world, Iceland contains about 200 volcanoes and accounts for one-third of Earth's total lava flow. One-tenth of the area is covered by cooled lava beds and glaciers, including Vatnajökull. Iceland's rugged coastline is more than 3,000 mi (4,800 km) long. The economy is based heavily on fishing and fish products but also includes hydropower production, livestock, and aluminum processing. Iceland is a unitary multiparty republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Iceland was settled by Norwegian seafarers in the 9th century and was Christianized by 1000. Its legislature, the Althingi, founded in 930, is one of the oldest legislative assemblies in the world. Iceland united with Norway in 1262 and with Denmark in 1380. It became an independent state of Denmark in 1918, but it severed those ties to become an independent republic in 1944. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the first woman in the world to be elected a head of state, served four terms as the republic's president (1980–96).
Variants of ICELAND
Iceland officially Republic of Iceland
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Iceland, visit Britannica.com.