Facts and Statistics
Iceland is an island of 103.000 km2 which is about 39,756 sq.miles. It was settled by Nordic people in the 9th century. Iceland has an average height of 500 m above sea level. Iceland's highest peak is called Hvannadalshnjukur, it forms a part of Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajokull (Water-glacier) and rises to a hight of 2.119 m above sea level. In fact over 11 per cent of the Iceland is covered by it's huge glaciers. Iceland sits on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and is a hot spot of volcanic and geothermal activity: 30 post-glacial volcanoes have erupted in the past two centuries and these raw natural forces are still shaping Iceland today. Natural hot water supplies much of the population with cheap, pollution-free heating. Rivers, too, are harnessed to provide inexpensive hydroelectric power. Iceland is therefore a leading force in the development eco-friendly machinery and techniques used to produce geothermal energy and other renewable energy resources. The population numbers just over 300.000 people over half of them chose to live in the capital of Iceland Reykjavík and its neighbouring towns in the southwest region of Iceland as the highland interior is uninhabited and in fact largely uninhabitable. Most towns and villages are therefore situated on the coast and enjoy a close relationship with the sea. Icelanders still speak the language of the Vikings, although modern Icelandic has undergone changes of pronunciation and, of course, of vocabulary. Iceland is alone in upholding another Norse tradition, i.e. the custom of using patronymics rather than surnames; and Icelander´s Christian name is followed by his or her father´s name and the suffix -son or -dóttir, e.g. Guðrún Pétursdóttir (Guðrún, daughter of Pétur). Members of a family can therefore have at least three different "surnames", which sometimes causes confusion to foreigners. The average life expectancy of 81.3 years for women and 76.4 for men, is one of the highest in the world, and a comprehensive state health-care system aims to keep it that way. Keflavík International Airport is located about 50 km from the capital. Icelanders use the comma instead of the decimal sign for integers, i.e. 12,000 means 12, not twelve thousand, whereas 12 000 or 12.000 means twelve thousand. Icelanders use both the 24 and 12 hour system, speaking the 12 hour system and using the 24 hour system for writing. Icelanders do not use PM/AM to indicate morning and afternoon. In Icelandic, "half ten" ("hálf tíu") means half past nine (9:30). Dates can be seen abbreviated in a number of ways, but the order is always DAY-MONTH-YEAR; 12.7.08, 120708, or 12/07/08 is equivalent to July 12, 2008. Icelandic calendars also indicate the number of the week 1 through 52. Iceland uses the metric system only. There is limited knowledge of Imperial or US measurements. In Iceland there is no concept of a ground floor as e.g. in the UK. Instead, the entrance level of a building is called the first floor ("jarðhæð"), like in the US. Levels are then counted 1, 2, 3 etc. Foreign television programmes and films are almost always shown in their original language with subtitles. Only children's programmes are dubbed into Icelandic.