The Republic of Iceland is a Nordic island nation located in northern Europe, northwest of the United Kingdom between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althingi, established in 930. The country is a parliamentary republic that combines a free-market economy with an extensive welfare system. It joined the European Economic Area in 1994 but has not joined the EU.
Except for a brief period during the 2008 crisis, Iceland has consistently achieved high growth, low unemployment and a remarkably even distribution of income. Its fishing industry provides 40% of export earnings and more than 12% of the country’s GDP. The economy has also been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the past decade, particularly within the fields of software production, biotechnology and tourism – with foreign visitors reaching 4.5 times the Icelandic population in 2016.
Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe, with over half of its population located in and around the capital of Reykjavik, a city that runs on geothermal power. Mountains, volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, lava fields and glaciers characterize the country’s terrain, with a coastline deeply indented by bays and fjords.