Iceland country profile
- 1 November 2016
- From the section Europe
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.
- Read full overview
Republic of Iceland
Area 103,000 sq km (39,769 sq miles)
Major language Icelandic
Major religion Christianity
Life expectancy 80 years (men), 84 years (women)
President: Gudni Johannesson
University historian Gudni Johannesson won Iceland's presidential election in June 2016 on his 48th birthday.
He secured 39.1% of the vote, ahead of Halla Tomasdottir, a private equity executive, on 27.9%.
A political outsider, he campaigned for the largely ceremonial post by pledging to restore Icelanders' faith in their system of government after years of public dissatisfaction with politicians first sparked by the country's banking collapse in 2010.
Mr Johanesson succeeded Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who stepped down in August 2016 after 20 years.
Prime minister: Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson (resigned)
Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson resigned as prime minister in October 2016 after a snap election saw his Progressive Party lose more than half of its seats.
The parliamentary election was triggered by the resignation of Mr Johannsson's predecessor, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, during public protests in April 2016 after leaked legal documents from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed his offshore holdings.
No party gained a parliamentary majority in an election dominated by public anger at Iceland's traditional elites and a strong desire for political change.
While the anti-establishment Pirate Party made significant gains, the conservative Independence Party, a governing coalition partner since 2013, emerged as the biggest party but will need the support of at least two other parties to form a coalition government.
National radio and TV is provided by the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV), a public-service broadcaster owned by the state.
The RUV is obliged to promote the Icelandic language and the nation's history and cultural heritage. Its services are funded by a licence fee, and by advertising revenues.
Press titles include privately-owned and party-affiliated newspapers. The constitution guarantees press freedom.
- Read full media profile
Some key dates in Iceland's history:
1918 - Iceland achieves full self-government under the Danish crown.
1940 - German forces occupy Denmark. British forces occupy Iceland.
1941 - The United States takes over the defence of Iceland and stations tens of thousands of troops there.
1943 - The Treaty of Union with Denmark runs out, with Denmark still occupied by Nazi Germany.
1944 - Icelanders vote in a referendum overwhelmingly to cut all ties with Denmark and become a republic. The Republic of Iceland is proclaimed.
1944 - Iceland becomes a member of Nato.
1970 - Iceland joins European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
- Read full timeline