A sparsely-populated North Atlantic island, Iceland is famous for its hot springs, geysers and active volcanoes. Lava fields cover much of the land and hot water is pumped from under the ground to supply much of the country’s heating.
Iceland became an independent republic in 1944 and went on to become one of the world’s most prosperous economies. However, the collapse of the banking system in 2008 exposed that prosperity as having been built on a dangerously vulnerable economic model.
The affluence enjoyed by Icelanders before 2008 initially rested on the fishing industry, but with the gradual contraction of this sector the Icelandic economy developed into new areas.
- Republic of Iceland
- Capital: Reykjavik
- Population 328,000
- Area: 103,000 sq km (39,769 sq miles)
- Major language: Icelandic
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 80 years (men), 84 years (women)
- Currency: Krona