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Welcome to Iceland… the fascinating geologic land of fire and ice in the North Atlantic Ocean close to Arctic Circle but with a more temperate climate than its polar neighborhood would imply!
This section provides additional distinctive details about Iceland that define its ecological uniqueness.  Just choose any tab for the area you would like to explore.

  • Total Population: 345,393 (2022)
  • Projected: 386,149 by 2025
  • 50.2% Male; 49.8% Female
  • Birth Rate: 11.65 per 1,000 people
  • Death Rate: 6.85 per 1,000 people
  • Indigenous People:  Iceland is the only Arctic state without an indigenous population.
    (Iceland Arctic Council)
  • Ethnicities: Icelandic – 81.7%; Polish – 5.6%;  Danish – 1%; Other – 11.7%
  • 5.1 global hectares (gha) | 12.6 acres per person. 
  • This is the highest in the world, It is 90% higher than the global average of 2.7 gha | 6.6 acres per person
  • Iceland’s biocapacity is 17.83 gha | 44.1 acres per person, much higher than the global biocapacity of 1.6 gha | 2.96 acres.
  • Agriculture – 18.7%
    • Pastures & Grazing: 17.5%
    • Arable Land and Permanent Crops: 1.2%
  • Forests – 0.3%
  • Non-Agricultural/Artificial Space (Human Development): 0.4%
  • Open/Bare Spaces – 49.5%
  • Wetlands & Water Bodies: 9.7%
  • Semi-Natural Vegetation: 3.7%
  • Other: 17.7%
  • Primary Food Products
    • Produced mostly via geothermally heated greenhouses.  These include wild berries, tomatoes, apples and bananas.
    • Vegetables grown outside as well as in geothermally heated greenhouses: potatoes, beets, carrots, rutabaga, cabbage and rhubarb.
  • Top Non-crop Food Commodities: Fish and crustaceans/mollusks, meat and milk (sheep/lamb).
  • Top Non-Food Products: Aluminum, iron, steel.

Reference: Trend Economy – Iceland

  • Average Annual Surface Temperature: 7°C | 44.6°F
  • Climate:  Iceland’s weather is moderated over four distinct seasons, unlike its name implies.
  • Spring: March – June. Temperatures range from -9.9°C |14.2°F  to  10.3°C | 50.5°F
  • Summer: June – September. Temperatures range from 5°C|40°F  to  15°C | 58°F.
  • Fall: September – November.  Temperatures range from 7.6°C | 45.7°F  to  -6.5°C|20.3°F.

Winter: December – February. Temperatures range from 18°C|29°F  to  -10.3 °C|13°F.

  • Total water volume: 170 billion cubic meters (bcm) – or about 4.49 sextillion gallons.
  • Potable Water Supply per Person: 492,192 cubic meters | 130.02 million gallons.

Average Precipitation (includes rain and snow): 1,052.14 mm | 41.42 inches.
Note: Iceland has the world’s largest per capita potable water supply

  • Total Energy Used: : 233.24 trillion BTU | 5.882 MTOE | 68.36 billion kWh (2022).
  • Global Rank in Energy Consumption: #102
  • Primary fuel sources used: Geothermal (65%), hydropower (20%), fossil fuels – primarily for transportation (15%). 100% of electricity is provided by renewable energy.
  • World’s first country to use 100% renewable sources for generating electricity. 
  • Global #1 leader in use of geothermal energy as a percentage of energy used).
  • ~8,435 known species of flora and fauna.
  • ~47,500 plants and related species
  • ~2,435 animal species.
  • Endangered or Threatened Species:
    • 8 mammals, including the Sei Whale, Blue Whale, Bowhead Whale, Right Whale, Narwhal, European Rabbit and Brown Bat.
    • Three bird species, including the Puffin, Horned Grebe, and Long-tailed Duck.
  • No reports of threatened plant species.
  • Half of Iceland’s vascular plants (the majority of plants on Earth) are thought to be survivors from the last Ice Age which ended some 11,700 years ago.
  • The Arctic Fox is Iceland’s only native land mammal.

Six of the most captivating Natural wonders of Iceland… among many.

  • Aurora Borealis – The Northern Lights:  The most spectacular all-natural light show in the world is at its greatest visibility from September to April in Iceland when the sky is dark and clear. It is one of the most popular “Bucket List” items worldwide.
  • The Midnight Sun: Also know as the Polar Day, the un shines virtually 24 hours a day and can be seen during the peak summer months starting in June. The phenomenon comes from Earth’s axis being tilted directly toward the sun which places Iceland almost directly pointed at the sun.  Conversely, Iceland experiences Polar Nights during its winters that will include 24-hours of nighttime during its peak in December… but this also provides the4 best time to see The Northern Lights!
  • The Blue Lagoon: Perhaps the most well-know hot spring in Iceland and considered one of the world’s 20 greatest natural wonders, the Blue Lagoon maintains a temperature of 37–39 °C | 99–102 °F year-round and is available to people of all ages.  It is about 20 km |12 mi from Keflavík International Airport in southwest Iceland near the small fishing town of Grindavík.
  • Iceland’s Volcanoes:  The Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is home to some of the most spectacular volcanic activity with 32 active volcanoes out of a total of 130 active and inactive volcanoes throughout the island country.  The most striking eruption in recent years occurred with the Fagradalsfjall Volcano which erupted in March 19, 2021, and most recently on August 3, 2022, lasting for three weeks.   Located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, Fagradalsfjall Volcano had been dormant for 6,000 years.  The volcanoes’ contrasting fierce heat with the force of the glaciers and Arctic weather create stunning beauty unlike anywhere else in the world… both during and after volcanic activity. 
  • Puffin Colonies:  Iceland is home to the largest Puffin colony in the world where 60% of the world’s Puffin species, between 8-9 million, nest and breed every summer.  Spotted mostly on rocky cliffs near the ocean, these birds are often called the cutest birds of the North sporting the black and white colors of penguins with a very colorful beak.
  • Gullfoss Waterfall:  Perhaps the most popular of Iceland’s awesome natural attractions, Gullfoss is the tallest of Europe’s waterfalls located in the high country about 115 km (72 mi) east-northeast of Reykjavik.  It is a two-tiered waterfall that is fed by the Hvítá River, a glacial river, which flows from the lake under Langjökull Glacier, the second largest glacier in Iceland.

There are many natural wonders of Iceland that collectively offer year-round amazement, beauty and pure fascination throughout the island country.  Click Here for other top natural attractions of Iceland!

Welcome from Iceland!

Thingvellir National Park – Iceland (Ecology Prime™ photo by Al Olszewski)

Iceland is the world’s 18th largest island, created directly by the volcanic activity along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the North Atlantic Ocean abutting the Arctic Ocean to the north and settled between Greenland and the United Kingdom.  It is the only portion of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Earth’s longest mountain range, that rises above sea level.  It is one of Earth’s northernmost inhabited places.

Iceland is a very young island in geologic terms. Viking explorers began to settle in Iceland in 874 C.E. mainly to seek out new land to farm.  Europe’s least densely populated country, it accounts for .004% of the world’s population occupying 103,125 km2 (39,816.7 mi2) of land surface. 

Iceland is popularly known as the land of fire and ice because of the astonishing engagement between its ice and glaciers and its volcanic activity.  Despite its very frigid name, the country is more temperate than polar because of the warming effects of the Gulf Stream ocean current which originates in the Gulf of Mexico and brings warm water (and warmer weather) into the North Atlantic. Because of this contact between the warm Gulf Stream effects and the Arctic climate, Iceland weather can be quite explosive. One could experience four distinct seasons in one day!  

Iceland is a truly wondrous geologic escapade where the native population is among the friendliest in the world. It is where the sun barely sets from May to July and barely shows itself from November to January, yet it is one of the safest places to live on the planet.  Although Iceland’s native population is only just over 345,000 people, you will never feel alone because of its over two million visitors each year!

Welcome to this beginning of Iceland’s cultural hub on Ecology Prime™, the country of The Midnight SunThis is Iceland….

Official and National Language: Icelandic 

Unique Iceland Facts: Did You Know…?

  • Iceland is located directly on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge which separates North America from Eurasia, the Eastern and Western hemispheres.  These two major tectonic plates (which are the land we live on) are moving apart at the rate of 2 cm (.8 inch) a year and will eventually split the country in two halves… in about a billion years.
  • Over 85% of Iceland’s energy needs comes from its own renewable energy sources, the vast majority of which is geothermal (produced from Earth’s internal heat).  Virtually 100% of the country’s electricity is provided by geothermal energy (over 90%) and hydroelectric renewable sources.
  • Iceland has among the cleanest, safest and best tasting water in the world, with some 95% of its drinking water coming from springs.  It is not treated with any chemicals because it is not necessary.
  • Icelandic sheep outnumber the country’s native human population by over 2.3-to-1 with over 800,000 of the unique breed.
  • The land surface of Iceland is primarily defined by its 130 volcanoes, 32 of which are currently active, creating its dramatic volcanic landscape of mountain ridges and extensive plateaus of moss-covered lava beds that meet the glacial rivers and ice. 
  • Volcano eruptions are seen more as attractions rather than dangers causing people to flee.   Earthquakes are generally minor and very infrequent.

See Iceland’s Active Volcano Locations: Click Here!

Námafjall Geothermal Area (Ecology Prime™ photo by Al Olszewski)
  • Over 45 natural geothermal hot springs are spread across Iceland, and they are safe to swim in, even amidst freezing temperatures. 
  • Swimming pools are very popular in Iceland, which has the highest number of naturally-heated pools per capita in the world. All of them are geothermally heated, and they are used year-round.  In 1940, Iceland passed a law that made swimming lessons mandatory for school students in grades 1 to 10.
  • Iceland (which is a land mass) and Greenland (a vast body of ice) were purposely given their names by their Viking explorers trying to keep people away from Iceland which they began to settle in the 9th century.
  • Iceland ranks #1 in the world in protection from habitat loss and of its wildlife species since 2001, according to the Species Habitat Index (SHI).  (Yale University – Environment Performance Index)
  • The only native land mammal in Iceland is the Arctic fox.
  • One of the most serious environmental problems in Iceland is the loss of vegetation by wind erosion.  Vegetation covers (in many areas only sparsely covers) only about 25% of Iceland’s land mass. (Government of Iceland – Icelandic Flora and Fauna)

About 40% of Iceland was forested prior to human settlement over 1,100 years ago, which was almost completely stripped for its lumber. But in 1908, the Iceland Forest Service was established to help reforest the country by planting new trees.  As a result, Iceland slowly began replanting forests, achieving 2% reforestation today.  Iceland’s goal is for 5% of its land to be covered by forests by 2070 and 12% by 2100.

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Total Population: 345,393 | Projected by 2025 – 386,149

  • Population Density: 3.35 people per km2 / 8.63 people per mi2 
  • World Rank: #181, .004% of the world’s total population.
  • Iceland is the least populated country in Europe with about 80% of its land uninhabited.
  • Most Populous City: Reykjavik | 134,602 (Statista – City Populations, Iceland 2022).

Least Populous City (Village): Bakkafjordur (alsoBakkafjörður) | 72 (Guide to Iceland)

Surface Area

Total Surface Area: 103,125 km2 / 39,816.7 mi2

  • World Rank: #106
  • 97.3% is Land Surface Area:  100,329 km2 (38,737.2 mi2) – .067% of the world’s total land area.
  • Only about .07 % of Iceland is arable, or suitable for growing crops.
  • 2.7% is Water Surface Area: 2,796 km2 (1,079.5 mi2) – 0.00077% of the world’s water surface. 
  • 11,000 km2 of Iceland’s land surface is covered by glaciers or glacial ice. (University of Iceland – Institute of Earth Sciences, Glaciers in Iceland)
  • Nearly 269 glaciers cover over 11,922 square kilometers (4,603 square miles) – or about 11.5% of Iceland’s surface (approximately .002% of Earth’s land surface), but the glaciers are losing an average of 11 billion tons of ice a year. (Arctic Adventures – Iceland’s Glaciers)
  • Iceland has a 758,000 square kilometer economic zone over water that extends 370.4 km (230.2 miles) outward from its 4,970 km (3,088.2 miles) coastline.


Average Annual Temperature (2017-2022): 5.1°C (41.8°F)* 

*This represents an increase of .8 °C (2.06°F) since 1990. ( – Iceland)

  • Average High – 7°C (44.6°F), Average Low – 2.5°C (36.5°F).  (Compiled from Arctic Adventures – Iceland)
  • Hottest Month (average high): July | 12.2°C (57°F).  
  • Coldest Month (average low): January | -2.2°C (28°F).  
  • Coldest temperature on record: -19.4°C (-2.92°F) in Reykjavik, February 2008. (World Bank)
  • Hottest temperature on record: 27.5 °C (81.5°F) in Akureyri, July 2021. 


Total Water Volume:  170 billion cubic meters (bcm) – or about 4.49 sextillion gallons. 

  • Total water volume includes surface water (166.6 bcm or 44.01 trillion gallons) and ground water (3.4 bcm or 898.2 billion gallons).
  • Annual Precipitation (rain and snow)*: 1,052.14 mm | 41.42 inches. (Current Results – Iceland Weather)

*Based on the average of seven geographically dispersed cities and regions across Iceland.

  • Potable or rechargeable water supply for each Iceland resident: 492,192 cubic meters (130.02 million gallons).
  • Virtually all of Iceland’s water is potable. About 95% of Iceland’s drinking water comes from springs.
  • About 3,600 cubic kilometers (951 trillion gallons) of water in the form of ice is contained in Iceland’s glaciers. (University of Iceland – Institute of Earth Sciences, Glaciers in Iceland)


Annual Total Energy Usage (est. for 2022): 233.24 trillion BTU (5.882 MTOE – megatonnes of oil equivalent or 68.36 billion kWh – kilowatt hours)  –   (Statistics Iceland)

  • Global ranking in energy consumption (as of 2022): #102. (Statistical Review of Energy)
  • 53,832 kWh per capita, world’s third highest. (World Population Review)
  • Percentage of Total Global Energy Consumption: .038%
  • Energy Sources (% of total):  Geothermal (65%), hydropower (20%), fossil fuels – primarily for transportation (15%).  (Government of Iceland – Energy)
  • Renewables provide 99.98% all of Iceland’s electricity needs. Virtually every resident has access to electricity.

Air Quality

Air Quality Index – AQI (Average Score): 25 – Good

  • Global ranking (Average Pollution): #11 least polluted nation of 117 monitored.* (IQ Air – Most Polluted Countries)
  • Most polluted city (on average): Akranes| AQI = 21. – Good  (AQI-Iceland)
  • Least polluted region: Kopavogur & Reykjavik| AQI = 4 – Very Good (AQI-Iceland).
  • Leading pollutants and sources: sulfur as hydrogen sulfide emissions from geothermal power plants, industrial emissions, transportation (fishing vessels, mobile equipment /vehicles, machinery).  Pollution from electricity production and heating is extremely low due to Iceland’s almost total use of renewable energy for electricity.


Iceland: Energy

Annual Total Energy Usage (est. for 2022): 233.24 trillion BTU (5.882 MTOE – megatonnes of oil equivalent or 68.36 billion kWh – kilowatt hours)  –   (Statistics Iceland)
Read More Iceland: Energy


There are between 5-6,000 plant species in Iceland, including fungi and lichen.

  • Vascular plant species number ~540 – about .13% of the world’s nearly 400,000 plant species. 
  • Includes 150 tree and large shrubs species.
  • Includes 23 fern species native to Iceland.
  • Includes over 3,000 fungi species. (IINH-Fungi)
  • IUCN reports no threatened or endangered plant species in Iceland.


2,435 species – about .027% of the world’s ~8.7 million identified animal species

  • Invertebrates – ~2,000
    • 1,245 insect species
    • 190 arachnid species
    • 110 crustaceans
    • 46 snail species
    • 6 mollusk species 
    • ~403 others
  • 275 marine (270) and freshwater (5) fish species. (IINH – Fauna)
  • Note: Over 2,500 marine animal species have been found in Iceland’s exclusive economic zone.
  • 80 bird species (three of which are endangered)
  • 52 terrestrial and marine mammal species (.
  • 28 mammal species, eight of which are threatened or endangered.  (IUCN Red List)
  • 0 reptile species
  • 0 amphibian species 

Fast Fact: Domestic Animals far outnumber the native Icelandic human population by over 3-to-1 Sheep are the most populous domestic animals numbering 800,00, followed by about 80,000 horses. There there are the populations of dogs (58 different breeds including the popular Icelandic Sheepdog, cattle, chickens and rabbits among others.


Iceland: Fauna

Total Number of Known Living Species: Over 500,000 Flora and Fauna (Numbers are approximate due to various reporting methods by varied qualified organizations.) Fast Fact: Domestic Animals far outnumber the native Icelandic human population by over 3-to-1 Sheep are the most populous domestic animals numbering 800,00, followed by about 80,000 horses. There there are the…
Read More Iceland: Fauna

Iceland Universities with Environmental Studies | Ecology Prime

Notable Iceland Colleges & Universities for Environmental Studies

  • University of Iceland 
  • Icelandic University of Agriculture (in Icelandic) 
  • Icelandic University of Agriculture (via UArctic) 
  • University of Akureyri 
  • Reykjavik University 
  • Holar University College 
  • Study Search Resource 
  • Study in Iceland