Flag and map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

Area north of 60 latitude
100% of its total area (103,000 sq. km.)

Ethnic Mix
Almost entirely Icelandic, a mixture of descendants of Norwegians and Celts. There is no aboriginal population.

Principal industries:
The economy depends heavily on the fishing industry. Also, aluminum smelting, ferro-silicon production, and hydroelectricity.

Currency: króna (pl. krónur) (ISK) = 100 aurar

Did you know?
The population of Iceland reached 25,000 in the year 930. That is when the Althing (the national parliament) was established. It is the world’s oldest continuous parliament and is still in operation today. Iceland has a long history of being democratic. It declared its complete independence from Denmark in 1944.

Learn more:

Canadian Global Almanac 2003
The Northern Circumpolar World by Bob MacQuarrie (Reidmore Books)


When the world’s first publicly available hydrogen fuelling station was unveiled in Reykjavik in April, 2003, Iceland took a big step towards an environmentally outstanding future.

The raw material is water, the energy is electricity from renewable sources, the fuel is hydrogen – and the emissions are pure water vapour.

Icelandic politicians agreed several years ago that the country should liberate itself from fossil fuel dependency and aim at becoming a totally “green” energy user.. The hydrogen fuelling station and three new hydrogen powered buses are propelling them towards that goal.

All the country’s electrical energy comes from renewable sources – hydroelectric and geo-thermal power. Due to their relatively easy availability, the cost of electricity is only $0.02 per kilowatt hour. This means hydrogen fuel (which requires significant energy input when being formulated) should be available to Icelanders at a very good price – a pre-tax cost of about $1.10 for an amount equivalent to a U.S. gallon of gasoline.

Iceland has been producing hydrogen since 1958 at a plant which uses about 13 megawatts of power annually to produce about 2,000 tons of liquid hydrogen.

Three hydrogen-powered buses have been put into operation in Reykjavik. Their manufacturer, Daimler Chrysler, is supplying them as part of Iceland’s Ecological City Transport System (ECTOS) project. There are 27 other hydrogen buses on its assembly line, earmarked for various European cities, starting with Madrid. The auto maker is also developing engines for hydrogen-driven trucks and smaller vehicles. Some are expected to take to the roads of California in the near future.

Professor Bragi Arnason, head of chemistry at the University of Iceland’s Science Institute, has earned the nickname “Professor Hydrogen”. He predicts that Iceland’s fishing fleet will be running entirely on hydrogen within 25 years.

Photo: Tor Hammerstad,