Iceland time 2014.12.17. 06:26





Iceland is a Nordic country between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. It has a population of 325,671 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík; the surrounding areas in the South-West of the country are home to two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists mainly of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle.

According to Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in AD 874 when the chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent Norse settler on the island.In the following centuries, Norsemen settled Iceland, bringing with them thralls of Gaelic origin. From 1262 to 1918, Iceland was ruled by Norway and later Denmark. The country became independent in 1918 and a republic in 1944.

Until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on fishing and agriculture. Industrialisation of the fisheries and Marshall Plan aid following World War II brought prosperity and Iceland became one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 1994, Iceland became party to the European Economic Area, which supported diversification into economic and financial services. In 2008, affected by the worldwide crisis, the nation's entire banking system systemically failed, resulting in substantial political unrest. In the wake of the crisis, Iceland instituted "capital controls" that made it impossible for foreign investors to take money out of the country, leading to the Icesave dispute. The economy has since then made a significant recovery.

Iceland has a free-market economy with relatively low taxes compared to other OECD countries. It maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. Iceland ranks high in economic, political and social stability and equality. In 2013, it was ranked as the 13th most-developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index.

Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation's Norse heritage. Most Icelanders are descendants of Norse and Gaelic settlers. Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is descended from Old Norse and is closely related to Faroese and West Norwegian dialects. The country's cultural heritage includes traditional Icelandic cuisine, Icelandic literature and mediaeval sagas. Iceland has the smallest population of any NATO member and is the only one with no standing army, its lightly armed Coast Guard being in charge of defence.


Practical Information In Iceland

Business, Banking & Shopping Hours

Office hours are generally M-F 9:00 to 17:00 and 8:00 to 16:00 during June, July and August. Banking hours are M-F 9:15 to 16:00. General Post Office hours are M-F 09:00–16:30. Shopping hours are M-F 9:00 to 6:00; Sat from 10:00 /11:00 to 14:00/18:00. Some food stores are open to 23:00 seven days a week or even 24 hours in the larger towns. Shopping malls, souvenir and bookshops in the city center are open on weekends.

Calling from Iceland

The international code for calling Iceland from abroad is 354. There are no area codes in Iceland. To call internationally from Iceland, first dial 00 followed by the country code and telephone number. For directory assistance dial 118.

Cell Phone Systems

The following mobile systems can be used in Iceland: GSM900 and 1800, 2G, 3G and UMTS 4G. Pre-paid cards are available at petrol stations around the country. Cell phone rental is also available.

Currency & Money Exchange

The Icelandic monetary unit is the krona (plural kronur), which is abbreviated Kr or ISK. Money can be easily exchanged at the airport, bank and currency exchanges. All major credit cards are accepted and can be used to pay for virtually anything – except the public buses. Electron, Maestro and edc debit cards are increasingly being accepted by merchants. ATM/Bank machines are found in most banks and many other locations throughout the country. Look for the Hradbanki sign.


The electric current in Iceland is 220 volts; 50 Hz AC. Icelandic electrical plugs are of the rounded, European two-pin type.

Entry Requirements

A passport valid is at least three months beyond intended stay, is required for visitors to Iceland. Travel between countries participating in the Schengen cooperation is allowed without formal passport control including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Germany. For additional information on passport and visa requirements see Icelandic Directorate of Immigration website

Internet Access

Iceland is a tech-savvy country with internet access available almost everywhere including internet cafes in the larger cities and towns. Hotels and Guesthouses generally offer internet access and Wi-Fi free of charge. Internet websites for businesses and organizations in Iceland end in the suffix ‘.is’.


Icelandic is the national language of Iceland although English and candinavian languages are widely spoken.

Medical Attention / Emergencies

There are medical centers or hospital in all major cities and towns in Iceland. The 24-hour emergency phone number in Iceland is 112. Pharmacies are called ‘Apotek’ and are open during normal business hours. See also

Public Transportation

Extensive bus services are available in all major cities and towns. Tickets can be purchased at the local bus station or from the driver with exact change. Children under the age of four travel free of charge, and half price is charged for children aged 4–11. There is no rail or subway system in Iceland.

Smoking in Public / Drinking Age

Wine, beer and spirits are sold in government run stores called Vinbudin. The age limit for buying alcohol is 20. Smoking is not permitted on board aircrafts or other means of public transport. It is not permitted to smoke in public buildings and other places open to the public, offices, shopping centers, hotels, bars, and restaurants. The age limit for buying tobacco is 18.


All taxis accept credit cards and have to be reserved in advance. In some major cities and towns there are also taxi stations where you can line up to get a car. And there are of course taxi stands at airports for transfer. (Arriving in Iceland)

Time Zone

Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) throughout the year, and does not adjust to daylight saving time.


Service and VAT are invariably included in prices in Iceland. Tipping is not customary and therefore not expected.

Traveling with Pets

Iceland is one of the few European countries without rabies, therefore traveling to Iceland with a dog or cat requires a strict application process with several forms, an import application fee, and four weeks of quarantine.

VAT Tax-Free Shopping

Value Added Tax in Iceland is 25.5% or 7% on special goods. A refund of the local VAT is available to visitors and will result in a reduction of up to 15% of the retail price provided departure from Iceland is within 30 days after the purchase is made. The purchased amount must be no less than ISK 4,000, (VAT included) per sales receipt. Refunds can be collected in the departures hall of Keflavik International Airport.

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