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Iceland - Tips

Thu, 8 Jul 2010 00:41:48

Iceland Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
July 2007

Background Note: Iceland

A boardwalk leads to the warm-water
Blue Lagoon in Svartsengi, Iceland,
May 11, 2002. [© AP Images]

Flag of Iceland is blue with a red cross outlined in white extending to the
edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist


Republic of Iceland

Area: 103,000 sq. km. (39,600 sq. mi.); about the size of Virginia or
slightly larger than Ireland.
Cities: Capital--Reykjavík (pop. 117099). Other towns--Kópavogur (27,835),
Hafnarfjörður (24,111), Akureyri (16,887).
Terrain: Rugged.
Climate: Maritime temperate.
Highest elevation: Hvannadalshnjúkur at Vatnajökull Glacier, at 2,111 meters
(6,925 ft.).

Nationality: Noun--Icelander(s). Adjective--Icelandic.
Population (April 1, 2007): 309,699.
Annual growth rate: 2.6%.
Ethnic group: Relatively homogenous mixture of descendants of Norwegians and
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran, 86%.
Language: Icelandic.
Education: Compulsory up to age 16. Attendance--99%. Literacy--99.9%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--2.9/1,000. Life expectancy--men 79.4 years,
women 83 years.
Work force (2007, 176,300): Commerce--30.7%; manufacturing--9.5%; fishing/
fish processing--5.0%; construction--8.7%; transport and
communications--7.0%; agriculture--3.8%; government, education, and
health--27.7%; other services--7.6%. Unemployment (2007): 2.0%.

Type: Semi-presidential, parliamentary.
Independence: 1918 (became "sovereign state" under Danish Crown); 1944
(establishment of republic).
Constitution: 1874.
Branches: Executive--president (head of state), prime minister (head of
government), cabinet (12 ministers). Legislative--63-member unicameral
parliament (Althingi). Judicial--Supreme Court, district courts, special
Subdivisions: 26 administrative districts and 79 municipalities.
Major political parties: Independence (IP), Progressive (PP), Social
Democratic Alliance (SDA), Left-Green Party (LGP), Liberal Party (LP).
Suffrage: Universal 18 years and above.
National holiday: June 17, anniversary of the establishment of the republic.

GDP (2006): $18.4 billion.
GDP growth rate (2005): 5.8%; (2006): 2.6%.
Per capita GDP (2006): $53,766.
Inflation rate (2007): 4%.
Budget (2007): $6 billion.
Annual budget surplus (2006): 1.4% of GDP.
Net public debt (2007): 17% of GDP.
Foreign aid as part of 2005 budget: 0.18% of GDP.
Natural resources: Marine products, hydroelectric and geothermal power.
Agriculture: Products--potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, turnips, livestock.
Industry: Types--aluminum smelting, fishing and fish processing technology,
ferro-silicon alloy production, hydro and geothermal power, tourism,
information technology.
Trade: Exports of goods (2006)--$3.9 billion: marine products 51.2%,
industrial products 38.3%, agriculture 1.8%, and miscellaneous 8.7%.
Partners--EU 74.8% (U.K. 18%, Germany 17%, Netherlands 11%, Spain 6%, Denmark
5%); U.S. 10.8% ($421 million); Japan 2.1%. Imports (2006)--$6.9 billion:
industrial supplies 27%; capital goods, parts, accessories 23%; consumer
goods 20%; transport equipment 21.1%; food and beverages 9%; fuels and
lubricants 8%. Partners--EU 64.7% (Germany 13%, Denmark 9%, U.K. 8%, Sweden
7%, Netherlands 7%); U.S. 12.8% ($208 million); EFTA 9%; Japan 4.1%.

Iceland is a volcanic island in the North Atlantic Ocean east of Greenland
and immediately south of the Arctic Circle. It lies about 4,200 kilometers
(2,600 mi.) from New York and 830 kilometers (520 mi.) from Scotland. About
79% of Iceland's land area, which is of recent volcanic origin, consists of
glaciers, lakes, a mountainous lava desert (highest elevation 2,000
meters--6,590 ft.--above sea level), and other wasteland. About 28% of the
land is used for grazing, and 1% is cultivated. The inhabited areas are on
the coast, particularly in the southwest where about 60% of the population
lives. Because of the Gulf Stream's moderating influence, the climate is
characterized by damp, cool summers and relatively mild but windy winters. In
Reykjavík, the average temperature is 11°C (52°F) in July and -1°C (30°F) in

Most Icelanders are descendants of Norwegian settlers and Celts from the
British Isles, and the population is remarkably homogeneous. According to
Icelandic Government statistics, 93% of the nation's inhabitants live in
urban areas (localities with populations greater than 200) and about 60% live
in the Reykjavík metropolitan area. Of the Nordic languages, the Icelandic
language is closest to the Old Norse language and has remained relatively
unchanged since the 12th century. About 91% of the population belongs to the
state church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, or other Lutheran Churches.
However, Iceland has complete religious liberty, and about 20 other religious
congregations are present.

Most Icelandic surnames are based on patronymy, or the adoption of the
father's first given name. For example, Magnus and Anna, children of a man
named Pétur, would hold the surname Pétursson and Pétursdóttir, respectively.
Magnus' children, in turn, would inherit the surname Magnusson, while Anna's
children would claim their father's first given name as their surname. Women
normally maintain their original surnames after marriage. This system of
surnames is required by law, except for the descendants of those who had
acquired family names before 1913. Most Icelanders, while reserved by nature,
rarely call each other by their surnames, and even phone directories are
based on first names. Because of its small size and relative homogeneity,
Iceland holds all the characteristics of a very close-knit society.

Cultural Achievements
The Sagas, almost all written between 1180 and 1300 A.D., remain Iceland's
best-known literary accomplishment, and they have no surviving counterpart
anywhere in the Nordic world. Based on Norwegian and Icelandic histories and
genealogies, the Sagas present views of Nordic life and times up to 1100 A.D.
The Saga writers sought to record their heroes' great achievements and to
glorify the virtues of courage, pride, and honor, focusing in the later Sagas
on early Icelandic settlers. The best-known Icelandic writer of the 20th
century is the 1955 Nobel Prize winner Halldór Kiljan Laxness. The literacy
rate is 99.9%, and literature and poetry are a legendary passion with the
population. Per capita publication of books and magazines is the highest in
the world.

Unlike its literature, Iceland's fine arts did not flourish until the 19th
century because the population was small and scattered. Iceland's most famous
painters are Ásgrímur Jónsson, Jón Stefánsson, and Jóhannes Kjarval, all of
whom worked during the first half of the 20th century. The best-known modern
sculptor, Ásmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982), drew his inspiration from Icelandic
folklore and the Sagas for many of his works. Today, Kristján Jóhannsson is
Iceland's most famous opera singer, while pop singer Björk and progressive
rock band Sigur Rós are well known internationally.

Iceland was settled in the late 9th and early 10th centuries, principally by
people of Norse origin. In 930 A.D., the ruling chiefs established a
republican constitution and an assembly called the Althingi (Alþingi) the
oldest parliament in the world. Iceland remained independent until 1262, when
it entered into a treaty establishing a union with the Norwegian monarchy.
Iceland passed to Denmark in the late 14th century when Norway and Denmark
were united under the Danish crown.

In the early 19th century, national consciousness revived in Iceland. The
Althingi had been abolished in 1800 but was reestablished in 1843 as a
consultative assembly. In 1874, Denmark granted Iceland limited home rule,
which was expanded in scope in 1904. The constitution, written in 1874, was
revised in 1903, and a minister for Icelandic affairs, residing in Reykjavík,
was made responsible to the Althingi. The Act of Union, a 1918 agreement with
Denmark, recognized Iceland as a fully sovereign state united with Denmark
under a common king. Iceland established its own flag, but Denmark continued
to represent Icelandic foreign affairs and defense interests.

German occupation of Denmark in 1940 severed communications between Iceland
and Denmark. Consequently, Iceland moved immediately to assume control over
its own territorial waters and foreign affairs. In May 1940, British military
forces occupied Iceland. In July 1941, responsibility for Iceland's defense
passed to the United States. Following a plebiscite, Iceland formally became
an independent republic on June 17, 1944. In October 1946, the Icelandic and
U.S. Governments agreed to terminate U.S. responsibility for the defense of
Iceland, but the United States retained certain rights at Keflavík. Iceland
became a charter member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in
1949. After the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in 1950, and pursuant to the
request of NATO military authorities, the United States and Iceland agreed
that the United States should again make arrangements for Iceland's defense.
A bilateral defense agreement signed on May 5, 1951, remains in force, even
though the U.S. military forces are no longer permanently stationed in
Iceland. Iceland is the only NATO country with no standing military of its

The president, elected to a 4-year term, has limited powers. When Iceland
became a republic in 1944, the post of president was created to fill the void
left by the Danish king. Although the president is popularly elected and has
limited veto powers (he can force a public referendum on a proposed law by
refusing to sign it--a power that has only once been exercised), the
expectation is that the president should play the same limited role as a
monarch in a traditional parliamentary system.

The prime minister and cabinet exercise most executive functions. The
parliament is composed of 63 members, elected every 4 years unless it is
dissolved sooner. Suffrage for presidential and parliamentary elections is
universal for those 18 and older, and members of the parliament are elected
on the basis of parties' proportional representation in six constituencies.
The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, district courts, and various
special courts. The constitution protects the judiciary from infringement by
the other two branches.

Principal Government Officials
President--Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Prime Minister--Geir H. Haarde
Foreign Minister--Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir
Minister of Finance--Árni M. Mathiesen
Minister of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs--Björn Bjarnason
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries--Einar Kristinn Guðfinnson
Minister of Communications--Kristján L. Möller
Minister of Industry and Nordic Cooperation--Össur Skarphéðinsson
Minister for the Environment--Þórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir
Minister of Commerce--Björgvin G. Sigurðsson
Minister of Health--Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson
Minister of Social Affairs--Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Minister of Education, Science and Culture--Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir
Speaker of Althingi--Sturla Böðvarsson
Ambassador to the U.S.--Albert Jónsson
Ambassador to the UN--Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Ambassador to NATO--Gunnar Gunnarsson
Ambassador to the EU-- Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson

transliteration key:
Þ is "th" ð is "d"

Iceland maintains an embassy in the United States at 1156 - 15th Street, NW,
Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005 [tel. (202) 265-6653], and a consulate
general at 800 Third Ave, 36th floor, New York, NY 10022 [tel. (212)
593-2700]. Iceland also has 25 honorary consulates in major U.S. cities.

Iceland's current government coalition was formed after the May 2007
parliamentary elections by the conservative Independence Party (IP) and the
center-left Social Democratic Alliance. The two parties hold a large majority
in parliament, with 43 out of 63 seats.

The current government replaced a coalition of the Independence Party and the
Progressive Party (PP) that had been in power since 1995. Longtime IP leader
Davíð Oddsson was Prime Minister 1991-2004, making him the longest-serving
prime minister in Europe (from 1991 to 1995, the IP was in coalition with the
Social Democratic Party). PP chairman and former Foreign Minister Halldór
Ásgrímsson took over as Prime Minister on September 15, 2004, as part of a
post-election deal with the Independence Party, and Oddsson became Foreign
Minister. Oddsson retired from his ministerial position September 27, 2005,
with former Finance Minister Geir Haarde becoming Foreign Minister. Oddsson
also announced his intention shortly to step down as IP chairman, with Haarde
elected to the post at a party national conference in October. In early June
2006 Ásgrímsson announced his withdrawal from politics as Prime Minister,
parliamentarian, and chairman of the Progressive Party. Haarde became the
third Prime Minister during the current electoral term on June 15, 2006, and
Valgerður Sverrisdóttir (Progressive Party) took over as Foreign Minister. In
May 2007 the Independence Party and the Social Democratic Alliance formed a
new government after an abysmal showing by the Progressive Party. Geir Haarde
continued as Prime Minister, and the chairman of the Social Democratic
Alliance, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, took over the reins at the Ministry
for Foreign Affairs.

The centrist agrarian Progressive Party has been a party to government for
over 30 years in the past 4 decades. Its support dropped from 23% in the 1995
parliamentary election to 12% in 2007. The party has dealt with internal
instability in the past few years, and power struggles have lead to frequent
change in the party's leadership. Chairman Jón Sigurðsson stepped down after
the 2007 elections and was replaced by the deputy chairman, Guðni Águstsson.

Three left-wing parties--the Social Democratic Party, the People's Alliance,
and the Women's List--formed an electoral coalition prior to the 1999
parliamentary election in the hope of mounting a credible challenge to the
long-dominant Independence Party. But the dream of creating a united left
coalition failed when disaffected leftists formed a new splinter party called
the Left Green Movement, led by former deputy People's Alliance leader
Steingrímur Sigfusson. With this defection, the left coalition won a
disappointing 27% of the vote (17 seats) in the 1999 election, four
percentage points below what the three parties had won running separately in
1995. Their 31% (20 seats) showing in 2003 recaptured this ground but did not
suffice to topple the government. The Left Greens won a respectable 9% of the
vote (5 seats) in 2003, but in the 2007 election they improved significantly,
with 14% of the total vote (9 seats). Another new faction, the Liberal Party,
won just over 7% (4 seats) in 2003 based on its strong opposition to the
current fishing management system, and clung to roughly 6% in 2007.

Despite the poor electoral showing in 1999, the three left-wing parties
decided to merge formally in 2000, creating a new party, the Social
Democratic Alliance, led by Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir. The party has found
it difficult to reconcile the widely varying foreign policy views of its
members, which range from strong support for NATO membership to pacifism and
a desire for neutrality.

Iceland's current President is Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, a former political
science professor who led the far-left People's Alliance in 1987-95 and
served as Finance Minister in 1988-91. Although Grímsson won office with only
a 41% plurality in 1996, he was not challenged for re-election in 2000. This
follows a well-established tradition of giving deference to sitting
presidents. He was re-elected again on June 26, 2004. Once in office, a
president can generally count on serving as many terms as he or she likes,
assuming good behavior. Reflecting the belief that the president is "above
politics," presidential candidates run for election as individuals--since
1952, political parties have played no role in nominating or endorsing
candidates. President Grímsson has occasionally drawn criticism that he
breaches the bounds of presidential etiquette by being too outspoken on
sensitive political issues.

Marine products account for the majority of Iceland's exports of goods. Other
important exports include aluminum, ferro-silicon alloys, equipment and
electronic machinery for fishing and fish processing, and pharmaceuticals.
Information technology and life sciences and related services are important
growth areas. The vast majority of Iceland's exports go to the European Union
(EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, followed by
the United States and Japan. The U.S. is by far the largest foreign investor
in Iceland, and the country's largest supplier of imported services (e.g.,
financial and franchise services, movies/TV programs/music, tourism).
Iceland's relatively liberal trading policy was strengthened by accession to
the European Economic Area in 1994 and by the Uruguay Round agreement, which
also brought significantly improved market access for Iceland's exports,
particularly seafood products. However, the agricultural sector remains
heavily subsidized and protected.
In recent decades, Iceland's economy has been prone to inflation due to
periods of rapid growth and its dependence on just a few key export sectors
(i.e., fish, and increasingly tourism and aluminum production), which can
fluctuate significantly from one year to the next. The 1970s oil shocks hit
Iceland hard. Inflation rose to 43% in 1974 and 59% in 1980, falling to 15%
in 1987 but rising to 30% in 1988. Since 1990, due to economic reforms and
deregulation, inflation has dramatically fallen, averaging around 4% in the
1990s. Due to several years of strong economic growth, Iceland experienced
the most positive economic period in its history during that decade. However,
as with many advanced countries, Iceland's economy experienced a mild
recession during 2002 due to global conditions. That recession was
short-lived, and healthy growth of 3% was registered during 2003. In 2005 the
economy boomed, growing 5.8%, and inflation was close to the Central bank's
upper limit (4%) at 3.95%, while unemployment decreased to about 3.2%. The
economy suffered a setback in spring 2006 when credit rating agencies and
other international financial firms released a number of reports raising
questions about the state of the Icelandic economy and the activities and
stability of Iceland's major banks. These reports were widely covered in the
international financial press, causing a marked drop in the value of the
Icelandic krona and of shares listed on the Icelandic stock exchange. Since
then the situation has calmed down, but there is no question that certain
imbalances have emerged in the Icelandic economy, including a high current
account deficit, high inflation and high private sector debt levels. It
remains an open question whether these imbalances render Iceland particularly
vulnerable to an economic crisis. Foreign confidence in the Icelandic economy
is important to maintain the country's skillful use of foreign capital.
Icelandic businessmen have become well known for risk taking, decisiveness,
and swiftness in their investments. Wealthy Icelanders have successfully
invested overseas, especially in the retail and real estate markets in
Denmark and U.K. and telecom, pharmaceutical, banking, and financial sectors
in Eastern Europe. This recent success has for the first time created a
"super-rich" elite in Icelandic society.

Iceland has few proven mineral resources. Abundant hydroelectric and
geothermal power sources allow over 90% of the population to enjoy
electricity and heating from these natural resources. The Kárahnjúkar
hydroelectric project is the largest single station, with capacity of 690
megawatts (mw). The other major hydroelectric stations are at Búrfell (270
mw), Hrauneyjarfoss (210 mw), Sigalda (150 mw) and Blanda (150 mw). Iceland
is exploring the feasibility of exporting hydroelectric energy via submarine
cable to mainland Europe and also actively seeks to expand its
power-intensive industries, particularly aluminum smelting plants.
Iceland-based Nordural Aluminum is a wholly owned investment by Century
Aluminum of Monterey, California. The plant employs more than 450 people and
recently expanded to a production capacity of 220,000 tons per year. A new
smelter owned by Alcoa, another U.S.-owned aluminum company, began operations
in June 2007. The smelter will have a production capacity of 346,000 tons per
year when fully operational. The Kárahnjúkar hydroelectric power plant,
completed in early 2007, was built in connection with Alcoa's smelter. A
total of over $2 billion has been invested in the power plant and smelter,
the largest economic project in Icelandic history.

Iceland has no railroads. Organized road building began about 1900 and has
greatly expanded in the past decade. The current national road system
connecting most of the population centers is largely in the coastal areas and
consists of about 13,000 kilometers (8,125 mi.) of roads with about 4,330
kilometers (2,706 mi.) paved. Regular air and sea service connects Reykjavík
with the other main population centers. The national airline, Icelandair,
flies from Iceland to Europe and North America, and is one of the country's
largest employers. Iceland became a full member of the European Free Trade
Association in 1970 and entered into a free trade agreement with the European
Community in 1973. Under the European Economic Area agreement, which took
effect January 1, 1994, there is basically free cross-border movement of
capital, labor, goods, and services between Iceland, Norway, and the EU

The U.S. and Iceland signed a bilateral agreement in 1951 stipulating that
the U.S. would make arrangements for Iceland's defense on behalf of NATO and
providing for basing rights for U.S. forces in Iceland. In March 2006 the
U.S. announced it would continue to provide for Iceland's defense but without
permanently basing forces in the country; Naval Air Station Keflavik closed
in September 2006 after 55 years. The Government of Iceland expressed
disappointment, and even opposition politicians opposed to the U.S. military
presence criticized the manner of the closing, but bilateral discussions
ensued to explore new ways of ensuring the country's security, with an
emphasis on a "visible defense." Negotiations concluded with a Technical
Agreement on base closure issues (e.g., facilities return, environmental
cleanup, residual value) signed on September 29, 2006, and a "Joint
Understanding" on future bilateral security cooperation (focusing on
defending Iceland and the North Atlantic region against emerging threats such
as terrorism and trafficking) signed by the Secretary of State, Prime
Minister Haarde and Foreign Minister Sverrisdóttir in Washington on October
11, 2006. The U.S. also cooperated with local officials to mitigate the
impact of job losses at the Air Station, notably by encouraging U.S.
investment in industry and tourism development in the Keflavík area. The
Government of Iceland announced in spring 2007 that a large portion of the
former base site would be converted into the university-level "Atlantic
Center of Excellence" with operations scheduled to begin in fall 2007.

Cooperative activities in the context of the new agreements began almost
immediately, with the arrival of the amphibious ship USS Wasp in Reykjavík on
October 12, 2006 (the first U.S. Navy port visit since 2002) to demonstrate
the Navy's rapid reaction capability and to support counterterrorism training
by units of Iceland's Coast Guard and police. In November 2006 a U.S. Navy
P-3 patrol aircraft arrived at Keflavík for joint search and rescue, disaster
surveillance, and maritime interdiction training. Further joint endeavors,
including a U.S.-led air defense exercise, are slated for the summer of 2007.

The Government of Iceland contributes financially to NATO's international
overhead costs and recently has taken a more active role in NATO
deliberations, planning, and peacekeeping. Iceland hosted the NATO Foreign
Ministers' Meeting in Reykjavík in June 1987 and again in May 2002. Iceland
hosted the NATO Military Committee in April 2007 and will host the NATO
Parliamentary Assembly in October 2007.

Iceland maintains diplomatic and commercial relations with practically all
nations, but its ties with other Nordic states, with the U.S., and with the
other NATO member states are particularly close. Icelanders remain especially
proud of the role Iceland played in hosting the historic 1986 summit in
Reykjavík between President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev, which set the
stage for the end of the Cold War.

Iceland has greatly increased its international profile since the early
1990s. Since the mid-1990s, Iceland has opened a number of missions overseas
for a total of 22, including an embassy in Beijing, giving Iceland a
diplomatic presence in all five permanent member countries of the UN Security
Council. Not coincidentally, it has announced its candidacy to serve on the
UN Security Council in 2009-2010. In the past few years, Iceland has also
established missions to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and to the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Vienna. In 1998, it bolstered
its delegation to NATO, assigning a permanent representative to the military
committee for the first time ever.

Notwithstanding its status as an unarmed nation, Iceland has been eager to do
its part to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and
security. One of the niches it is helping to fill is in civilian peacekeeping
and crisis management. It took a significant step forward in this area in
2001 by launching its Icelandic Crisis Response Unit (ICRU). In setting up
the ICRU, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs established a roster of over 100
experts in various occupations (police officers, nurses, doctors, lawyers,
engineers, journalists, etc.) who will be specially trained and prepared to
deploy to trouble spots abroad on short notice.

Peacekeeping has been a permanent item in the Icelandic state budget since
1994, and Iceland has been an active member of the UN Peacekeeping Committee
since 1997. With the formal establishment of the ICRU, the government decided
to increase the number of deployed peacekeepers to 50 by 2006. The key
emerging niche capability of the ICRU is airport administration following the
successful management of the airport in Pristina, Kosovo, in 2003 and of the
airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2004-2005.

Icelanders have a strong emotional bond with the Baltic states, and Iceland
prides itself on being the first country to have recognized these countries'
claim for independence in 1991.

Membership in International Organizations
Iceland is a member of the following organizations: Arctic Council, Barents
Euro-Arctic Council; Council of Baltic Sea States; Council of Europe;
European Economic Area; European Free Trade Organization; EFTA Court; EFTA
Surveillance Authority; North Atlantic Treaty Organization; Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe; Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development; International Criminal Police Organization; International
Council for the Exploration of the Sea; International Hydrographic
Organization; International Maritime Satellite Organization; International
Union for the Publication of Custom Tariffs; Nordic Council; North-East
Atlantic Fisheries Commission; North Atlantic Salmon Conservation
Organization; the International Whaling Commission; and the North Atlantic
Marine Mammal Commission.

It also is a member of the United Nations and most of its related
organizations, specialized agencies, and commissions, including the
International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, World Tourism
Organization, Food and Agricultural Organization, International Atomic Energy
Agency, International Civil Aviation Organization, International Fund for
Agricultural Development; Industrial Development Organization; International
Labor Organization, International Maritime Organization, International
Telecommunications Union, UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization, Universal Postal Union, World Health Organization, and World
Meteorological Organization; World Intellectual Property Organization;
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; International
Development Association; International Finance Corporation Multilateral
Investment Guarantee Agency and International Center for Settlement of
Investment Disputes; UN Conference on Disarmament; Economic Commission for
Europe; UN High Commissioner for Refugees; Office for the High Commissioner
for Human Rights; Commission of Human Rights; UN Conference on Trade and

U.S. policy aims to maintain close, cooperative relations with Iceland, both
as a NATO ally and as a friend interested in the shared objectives of
enhancing world peace; respect for human rights; economic development; arms
control; and law enforcement cooperation, including the fight against
terrorism, narcotics, and human trafficking. Moreover, the United States
endeavors to strengthen bilateral economic and trade relations.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Carol van Voorst
Deputy Chief of Mission--Neil Klopfenstein
Political Officer--Brad Evans
Economic/Commercial Officer--Fiona Evans
Management Officer--Richard Johnson
Information Management Officer (acting)--Steve Ackerman
Public Affairs Officer--Sally Hodgson
Consular Officer--Allen Kepchar
Regional Security Officer--Peter A. Dinoia
The U.S. Embassy in Iceland is located at Laufasvegur 21, Reykjavík [tel.
(354) 562-9100]. The Embassy's web site is http://reykjavik.usembassy.gov/

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Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/ for all Background notes
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