It is claimed that Icelanders are, in origin, the ‘least Nordic’ of the Scandinavian people, with research showing a strong Celtic/Gaelic element in their genes. Genetic study has revealed male settlers were from Nordic origin, while women settlers were of Gaelic origin. Recent years has seen an increase in immigration in Iceland and Polish people make up the minority group by some considerable margin with over 8,000 Poles now living in Iceland.
Under Erik the Red’s leadership Icelanders founded the first Norse settlement in North America’s Greenland in the year 985. From the 1870s emigration from the United States and Canada has begun. As of 2006, Canada had over 88,000 people of Icelandic descent, while there are more than 40,000 Americans with Icelandic descent according to 2000 Census.
Iceland’s maritime climate is sub polar oceanic and is noted for its variety and changeability. Iceland’s geographical position is directly in the path of the Gulf Stream. This North Atlantic Current provides generally higher annual temperatures than in other places with similar latitudes in the world. Winters can be wet and mild, particularly in the southwest around Reykjavik. Snowfall is more common in the north than the south. The central highlands are the coldest part of the country. The more eastern and northern parts of the country, often in the rain shadow of the central mountains and icecaps tend to benefit from more sunshine. Akureyi in the north is the warmest part of the country with Eglisstaoir, in the east, the driest. An arctic wind can see temperatures plummet quickly and fogs are common in the east. Daylight hours vary enormously between summer and winter due to Iceland’s position close to the Arctic Circle. The aurora borealis or Northern Lights can be seen brilliantly during the winter months of December and January when there is as little as three to four hours of daylight. Reykjavik, the capital city and home to two thirds of the population of Iceland has an average January low temperature figure of 35.4ᵒF (1.9degrees C) and an average July high of 55.9 degrees F (13.3 degrees C)
In 2007, Iceland was ranked the seventh most productive country in the world per capita (US $54,858) and the fifth most productive by GDP at purchasing power parity ($40,112). About 85% of of total primary energy supply in Iceland is produced by domestically produced renewable energy sources. Abundant hydroelectric and geothermal power utilisation has led Iceland into becoming the world’s largest producer per capita. The 2014 Global Green Economy Index ranks Iceland as the 10th Greenest country in the world. Historically, Iceland’s economy relied on fishing which still provides 40% of export earnings and employs 7% of the workforce.
ICELAND COUNTRY PROFILE
Full Name: Iceland Republic
Area: 103,000 sq km (40,000 sq miles)
Density Population: 3.29/km sq (Least densely populated country in Europe)
Life Expectancy: 79.98 (males) 83.54 (women) as of 2014
GDP (PPP): Total - $14.488
Major Language: Icelandic
Major Religion: Evangelical Lutheron State Christian Church
International Dialing Code: +354