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Iceland Country Profile

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Iceland at a Glance

Location:Northern Europe, island between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the United Kingdom
Climate:temperate; moderated by North Atlantic Current; mild, windy winters; damp, cool summers
Terrain:mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields; coast deeply indented by bays and fiords
Resources:fish, hydropower, geothermal power, diatomite
Hazards:earthquakes and volcanic activity
Population:306,694 (July 2009 est.)




A Brief Profile of Iceland

Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930. Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century, 20% of the island's population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the US. Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. Literacy, longevity, and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.






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