Iceland - a large island in the North-Atlantic ocean
Iceland is also the land of light and darkness. Long summer days with near 24-hours of sunshine are offset by short winter days with only a few hours of gloomy daylight—the perfect scenario for enjoying the magical Northern lights.
Iceland is a relatively large island in the middle of the North-Atlantic ocean, just south of the Arctic Circle, between 63.4°N and 66.5°N latitude. Iceland stretches over an area of 103.592 km2 (39.997 sq mi), which is similar to Hungary and Portugal, or the US states Kentucky and Virginia. It is the second-largest island of Europe, following Great Britain, and the 18th largest island globally. At its widest, Iceland measures approximately 500 km (305 miles) east to west and 300 km (185 miles) north to south.
Many islands along the coastlines
The coastline of Iceland is 6.542,4 km (40.652,5 miles) long, and Iceland maintains a 200 nautical-miles exclusive economic zone, making the total economic area 751,345 km2 (290,096 sq mi). In addition, numerous smaller islands are found all around the coast, some of which are inhabited. The largest one is Heimaey in the Westman Islands archipelago in the south that is 13,4 km2, Hrísey island in Eyjafjörður fjord in the north covering 8 km2, and Grímsey, a 5,3 km2 large island lying on the Arctic Circle just north of Iceland.
Flight time is 3 hours from London and 5 hours from New York
Being an island it has no land borders with other countries. The nearest neighbor to the west is Greenland, just 286 km (180 miles) away, and although hard to grasp, stretches further south and east than Iceland, and in fact, in any direction. To the east, the Faroe Islands are closest or 420 km (260 miles), Scotland 795 km (495 miles), and Norway 950 km (590 miles). For a comparison of distances, It takes approximately five hours to fly from New York to Reykjavík and three hours from London.
Demography - Reykjavík is the capital
Iceland is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, with a population count of 368.792*. The capital of Iceland is Reykjavík which is located at 64.1° N latitude, earning it the title of being the northernmost capital of the world.
Almost two-thirds of the inhabitants live in the capital area in the southwest and the rest of the population is spread around the long coastline, mostly in fishing villages and farmland regions. Akureyri in North-Iceland is the largest town outside the SW region, with a population of 18.933. Only 2.672 people live in the largest town of the Westfjords region, Ísafjörður, and Egilsstaðir is the most prominent town of East-Iceland with just 2.552 inhabitants.
*Numbers from January 1st, 2021
Some key numbers for Iceland:
- Total area: 103,592 km²
- Coastline: 6.542,4 km
- Lakes and rivers: 2.757 km²
- Glaciers: 11.922 km²
- Sandplains 4.000 km²
- Lava fields 11.000 km²
- Forests: 1,907 km²
- Largest lake: Þingvallavatn 82 km²
- Highest point: Hvannadalshnúkur 2,119 m
- Population: 368.792 (Jan. 2021)
ⓒ Copernicus Sentinel data (2020), processed by ESA