Capital city: Reykjavik
Total area: 103 000 km²
Population: 0.3 million
Currency: Icelandic króna (kr)
Schengen area: Member of the Schengen area since 1996
Iceland is famous for its natural beauty and extensive unspoilt landscapes. Volcanoes and glaciers combine to create a stunning and unique natural environment. Natural geothermal springs are popular as open-air swimming pools and spas, and are a major attraction for tourists.
Fishing, river rafting and 4x4 off-road tours also attract crowds of tourists every year. The first settlers came to Iceland in the 8th century.
They were from Norway or Celtic people from the British Isles. They thrived as an independent community for several centuries and described their adventures in history books which they called 'sagas'. Iceland can perhaps boast the world’s oldest parliamentary democracy as its parliament was established in 930.
Known as the 'Althingi', the parliament’s 63 members are elected every four years. The economy is based on fishing, industry that can exploit the renewable energy from the hot springs or modern IT-based services.
Much of Iceland’s visual art has been influenced by the country’s landscape. Folk music remains popular, along with pop. Famous exports include Björk, The Sugarcubes and Sigur Rós.