Iceland Population, Main Cities and Geography

By | January 27, 2023

Iceland: population and cities


According to Countryaah website, Iceland has around 319,000 residents and is the most sparsely populated country in Europe.

Ethnic composition

Around 96% of Iceland’s residents are native Icelanders.

Religious affiliation

Around 80% of Icelanders belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Icelandic State Church, 2.4% of Icelanders are Catholics. But there are also a small number of Muslims and Jews in Iceland.

National language Icelandic, which is very difficult for Germans and others to interpret and speak

Capital, other cities

The capital of Iceland is Reykjavik with a population of around 120,000. According to Abbreviation Finder, ISL stands for Iceland in English. Click to see other meanings of this 3-letter acronym.

Other large cities are

– Akureyri with around 17,996 residents

– Kopavogur with around 25,300 residents

– Hafnarfjödur with around 21,190 residents and

– Keflavik with around 10,900 residents.

Iceland: geography and map

The island lies on the “Mid-Atlantic Ridge” and thus on the North American as well as on the “Eurasian plate”. The plate boundaries are roughly in a direction from southwest to northeast. The slab migration is around 2 cm per year. Check topmbadirectory for politics, flags, famous people, animals and plants of Iceland.

Iceland covers a total area of 103,000 km². Thereof:

  • ForestAround 2% of the country is forested.
  • Meadow/pasture landAround 19.5% of the land is used as meadow or pasture land.
  • Arable land and fieldsAround 1% of the land is used as arable land or fields.
  • GlaciersThe approx. 300 glaciers in the country take up approx. 11% of the country’s surface.

Iceland has a coast to the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean with a length of around 5,000 km.

Tidal range

In Reykjavik, the mean tidal range of the Atlantic is around three to four meters on average.

For detailed explanations of ebb and flow, see Tides, Ebb and Flow.


The world’s highest tidal range can be found in the Bay of Fundy in Canada, where it is up to 16 m, and at spring tide even over 20 m. The Bay of Fundy is located on the Atlantic between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which is called Nova Scotia in German and whose capital is Halifax.

On the German North Sea coast it varies between 1 m and 3 m.

In the western Baltic Sea, on the other hand, the tidal range is only 0.3 m, while it is barely noticeable in the eastern Baltic Sea.

Longitude and latitude

Iceland extends over the following geographical latitude (abbreviation Δφ) and geographical longitude (abbreviation Δλ):

Δφ = from 63 ° 23 ‘to 66 ° 32’ north latitude Δλ = from 13 ° 30 ‘to 24 ° 32’ west longitude

You can find detailed information on this subject under: Geographical longitude and latitude.

Legal time

For Iceland, the following value applies to Central European Time (CET), i.e. the time (without summer time) in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A minus sign means that it is earlier there and a plus sign that it is later than after CET:

Δt (CET) = – 1 h

More detailed explanations of the time can be found under: Time zones, time.

Highest sun in Reykjavik

Reykjavik lies at a northern latitude of around φ = 64 ° (exactly: 64 ° 09 ‘).

If the sun is at the tropic, i.e. at δ = 23.5 °, summer will start in Reykjavik, this is June 21. Then, for the highest position of the sun around noon, according to Eq. 1 (see position of the sun).

64 ° = (90 ° – h) + 23.5 °


H = 49.5 °

At 49.5 °, the sun in Reykjavik has the highest level of the entire year above the horizon (more precisely: above the horizon). On December 21st, when the sun or its pixel is at the tropic (-23.5 °), the sun only comes 2.5 ° above the horizon according to the above equation.


It is worth noting the fact that there are around 140 volcanoes in Iceland, 30 of which are active. Numerous volcanoes are also glaciated. It is therefore not without good reason that Iceland is often referred to as the island of fire and ice.


The Katla is almost at the southern tip of the island. The 1,450 m high mountain is considered one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland. A large part of it is covered by the 580 km² large Mýrdals Glacier (Mýrdalsjökull).

The mountain is located a little less than 30 km east of the Eyjafjalla, with which it is connected by underground magma flows. It is to be feared that it will break out a few weeks or months after its outbreak on, but then with significantly greater local and international effects.

The particular danger of these volcanoes covered by thick glacial ice is the so-called hydromagmatic eruptions.

The ejected extremely hot magma reacts with the ice or its water, which leads to particularly strong explosive volcanic ash eruptions.

That in turn – depending on the wind direction – would have devastating effects on air traffic in Europe, North Africa and even parts of Asia. Huge mudslides (lahars) must be expected locally, and large areas of Iceland would be covered with a thick layer of ash.

The last eruption occurred on October 12, 1918.


The Eyjafjalla is about 15 km southeast of Reykjavik and a little less than 30 km west of the Katla, with which it is connected by underground magma flows. This Strato volcano erupted on March 20th within an almost ice-free area – somewhat away from the mountain itself. Therefore, this relatively “harmless” outbreak was actually a tourist attraction with no major hazard potential. But the following eruption on April 14 took place in the area of an approximately 200 m thick layer of ice, which led to explosive reactions of the hot magma with the melted ice. The result was a huge amount of volcanic ash (approx. 750 tons per second), which spread through southeast winds over large parts of Europe and brought all air traffic over Europe to a standstill. The approximately 1. The 660 m high mountain (with a layer of ice) is covered by the 78 km² glacier of the same name (Eyjafjallajökull). You can find more information about the eruption of this volcano at Goruma atVolcanic eruptions.


This volcano has a height of 1,490 m and is located in the south of the island, about 110 km east of Reykjavik. It is the most active volcano in Iceland .

Volcanoes with heights over 1,000 m:

Surname Height Location
Hvannadalshnúkur 2,110 m
Bárðarbunga 2,010 m
Austur-Kverkfjöll 1,933 m
Snæfell 1,833 m
Hofsjokull 1,765 m
Grímsvötn 1,720 m
Eyjafjallajokull 1,666 m
Tungnafellsjokull 1,535 m
It yes 1,525 m
Hekla 1,490 m
Breiðabunga 1,482 m
Snækollur 1,481 m
Ýme 1,462 m
Katla 1,450 m
Snæfellsjökull 1,445 m
Hveravellir 1,355 m
Prestahnúkur 1,220 m
Torfajokull 1,190 m
Askja 1,180 m
Ljósufjöll 1,065 m

Also worth mentioning are the two “underwater volcanoes” Kolbeinsey, which is only a few meters below the surface of the water, and the 400 m deep

Njörður on the Reykjanes ridge


Surtsey is a 1.4 km² large volcanic island formed after November 14, 1963 as a result of a series of submarine volcanic eruptions. It is located around 30 km off the south coast of the country and is the southernmost part of Iceland.

It is the second largest of the Westman Islands after Heimaey. The highest point is the 154 m high Austurbunki.

Except for the scientists at the local research stations, Surtsey is uninhabited and is under strict conservation.

In addition, the volcanic island was added to the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites in 2008.


The Eldfell is located on the 13.4 km² island of Heimaey, which is part of the Westman Islands. Its cinder cone has a height of 200 m.

It broke out for the last time in 1973 and led to the evacuation of around 5,000 residents, who returned from mid-1974.


The Krafla is a volcanic system with a length of around 100 km in the north of Iceland in the Mývatn region. Here is the central volcano of the same name with a height of 818 m.

Under the central volcano with a caldera with a cross-section of approx. 10 km there is a magma chamber at a depth of approx. 3 km.

The caldera was formed in major eruptions more than 100,000 years ago. The volcano is still active and the last minor eruption was in 1984.


The Askja is the central volcano of an approximately 200 km long volcanic system of the same name. It has a height of 1,515 m. It is located a little east of the center of the country and is part of the Vatnajökull National Park.

The most recent outbreaks to date occurred in the 1960s. A remarkable event took place on the night of July 23rd to 24th, 2014, when around 50 million m³ of rock fell into the 11 km² lake Öskjuvatn as a result of a landslide, triggering several tsunamis up to 50 m high. The maximum depth of the lake created in 1875 by the collapse of a magma chamber is 220 m.

More mountains

Felsea Hvannadalshnukur

The highest mountain in the country is Felsea Hvannadalshnukur in the southeast of the country with a height of 2,119 m. It rises on the edge of Europe’s largest glacier, the Vatnajökull.


Another high mountain is Eiriksjökull with a height of 1,675 m.


There are numerous glaciers in Iceland, of which Vatnajökull is the largest. In total, the glaciers cover about 11% of the land mass of Iceland.


This approximately 78 km² glacier covers the Strato volcano (Eyjafjalla) of the same name, which is approximately 1,666 m high.

Mountains and glaciers played a major role in the eruption of the volcano on April 14, 2010. As a result of the ejected ash cloud, air traffic in large parts of Europe came to a complete standstill.


The Langjökull glacier is the second largest glacier in Iceland with a current area of around 925 km². Its maximum ice thickness is about 580 m.

Since May 2015 there has been an artificially created glacier tunnel approx. 500 m in length about 30 m below the surface of the glacier. The glacier tunnel can be visited as part of a guided tour, whereby spikes must be worn under the shoes.

At the deepest point of the tunnel there is a small chapel where, among other things, you can get married.


The glacier covers an area of around 595 km² and covers the 100 km² large caldera of Vukans Katla. It extends from a height of around 1,500 m to around 100 m.

The maximum thickness of the ice is approx. 740 m.

Its two glacier tongues, which reach down to the valley, are Entujökull in the northwest and Sólheimajökull in the south.


The Vatnajökull (water glacier) is located in the southeast of the island state. It covers an ice volume of over 3,000 km³ and is therefore the largest glacier in Europe in terms of volume.

The glacier covers an area of around 8,100 km², which is around 7.9% of the area of Iceland. The greatest thickness of the ice layer is approx. 850 m.

In June 2008, the area of the glacier was incorporated into the newly established Vatnajökull National Park, which covers around 12,000 km².



The longest river is the Þjórsá with a length of 230 km.

Jökulsá á Fjöllum

The Jökulsá á Fjöllum in the north-east of the country is the second longest river in the country with a length of 205 km.

Other rivers

Other rivers are the Hvítá and Ölfusá in the south, the Skjálfandafljót in the north and the Lagarfljót and the Jökulsá á Brú in the east.


The five largest lakes in Iceland are:

– Þingvallavatn (83 km²)

– Þórisvatn (70 km²)

– Lögurinn (52 km²)

– Lagoon lake Hóp (45 km²)

– Mývatn (38 km²).


There are numerous islands off the coast of Iceland. Some of them are inhabited. The largest are the Westman Islands in the south, Hrísey and Grímsey in the north.


Grímsey is the northernmost inhabited part of Iceland. The 5 km² island is inhabited by around 100 people and is approached by a ferry. The people here live mainly from fishing.

Interesting is the fact that the island is crossed by the Arctic Circle.


This approximately 1.4 km² island is located around 30 km southwest of Iceland and was only formed as a result of an underwater volcanic eruption between 1963 and 67.

It was named after the Germanic fire giant Surt (Surtsey = island of Surt) – the enemy of the sir.

There is now a research station here. The protected island may only be entered for scientific purposes.

The island is part of a total of 65.5 km² area that was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in July 2008.

European Arctic Ocean

In the far west, Iceland is barely bordered by a tip of the Northern European Sea. This sea is one of the marginal seas of the Atlantic Ocean and is the most important connection between the North Atlantic in the south-west and the Arctic Ocean in the north.

It covers an area of around 1.1 million km². The sea lies between Norway, Iceland and Spitzbergen – with an area of around 1.1 million km². In the northwest it merges into the Greenland Sea and in the south at a latitude of around 61 ° into the North Sea.

In the northeast it borders on the Barents Sea. The ocean floor has rich deposits of natural gas and oil.

Greenland Sea, Atlantic

Greenland Sea

In the north the country borders on the Greenland Sea, which is a part of the Arctic Ocean.

The Greenland Sea covers an area of around 1 million km². This sea lies between the east coast of Greenland, the north coast of Iceland, the island of Jan Mayen and Svalbard. Its deepest point is the Molloytief at around 5,600 m. 400 km southwest of the village of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen.


Iceland borders in the south on the North Atlantic, which together with the South Atlantic forms the Atlantic Ocean (Atlantic).

You can find more information about the Atlantic at Goruma here >>>.


We would like to thank Ms. Sonja Lenz from Inselzeitreisen, which also offers trips to Iceland, for a series of images.


Sonja Lenz, graduate geographer (volcanologist)

Am Klopp 21

66620 Nonnweiler

[email protected]

Iceland Population