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Republic of Iceland

ICELAND

Independent Baptist Friends

Iceland Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik

Country Iceland
City Reykjavik
Latitude/Longitude 64.14, -21.92

Population 115,611

Bordering Cities

* Statistics by Wolfram|Alpha. "Christianity" is used in the statistical sense and includes Catholics, Protestants, and true Christians.

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Iceland is a European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It has a population of about 315,470 and a total area of 39,769 sq miles. The capital and largest city is Reykjavik, with the surrounding areas in the southwestern region of the country being home to some two-thirds of the national population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior mainly consists of a plateau characterised by sand fields, mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle.

According to Landnamabok, the settlement of Iceland began in AD 874 when the Norwegian chieftain Ingolfur Arnarson became the first permanent Norwegian settler on the island. Others had visited the island earlier and stayed over winter. Over the following centuries, people of Norse and Gaelic origin settled in Iceland. From 1262 to 1918 it was part of the Norwegian and later the Danish monarchies. Until the 20th century, the Icelandic population relied largely on fisheries and agriculture. In 1994, the nation became party to an agreement that established the European Economic Area, thus allowing it to diversify from fishing to economic and financial services.

Iceland has a free market economy with relatively low taxes compared to other OECD countries, while maintaining a Nordic welfare system providing universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. In recent years, Iceland has been one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 2010, it was ranked as the 17th most developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index, and the fourth most productive country per capita. In 2008, the nation's banking system systematically failed, causing significant economic contraction and political unrest.

Iceland is a developed and technologically advanced society. According to Freedom of the Press, Iceland has the most free press in the world. Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation's Norse heritage. Most Icelanders are descendants of Norse (particularly from Western Norway) and Gaelic settlers. Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is closely related to Faroese and some West Norwegian dialects. The country's cultural heritage includes traditional cuisine, poetry, and the medieval Icelanders' sagas. Currently, Iceland has the smallest population among NATO members and is the only one with no standing army.


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