Quick Facts

Arctic Territory:
All of Iceland

Arctic Population:
365,000

Iceland and the Arctic Region

Iceland is an Arctic State where the Arctic Circle passes through its northernmost community, Grimsey Island, 40 kilometers off the north coast of Iceland. Iceland has approximately 365,000 inhabitants.

Iceland’s key industries have been largely based on the sustainable utilization of natural marine and energy resources. The country has the highest share of renewable energy in any national total energy budget, with about 85 percent of the total primary energy supply derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources and geothermal water is used to heat around 90 percent of Icelandic homes. In recent years, tourism has become a key pillar of the Icelandic economy and growing emphasis has been placed on innovation and the creative sector.

Indigenous Peoples

Iceland is the only Arctic State that does not have an Indigenous population. From the start of settlements in the ninth century AD to today, Iceland inhabitants have mostly come from Northern Europe.

Iceland in the Arctic Council

Iceland held its first Chairmanship from 2002-2004. Throughout its first Chairmanship, Iceland’s priorities included:

  • Arctic human development
  • The use of information and telecommunication technology in the Arctic
  • Strengthening cooperation on Arctic research

Throughout its current chairmanship, Iceland’s priorities include:

  • The Arctic marine environment, including plastics, micro-plastics and marine litter, the blue bioeconomy and sustainable shipping
  • Climate and green energy solutions to reduce emissions and improve air quality
  • People and communities of the Arctic, including economic opportunities, telecommunications and gender equality
  • Strengthening the Arctic Council through constructive cooperation

Key accomplishments include:

  • Under Iceland’s lead, the Arctic Human Development Report (AHDR) was approved by Ministers at the Inari-meeting in 2002 as a priority project, forming an integral part of its Chairmanship program. The report was an effort to strengthen the cultural, social and economic dimensions of the work of the Arctic Council. The report represents the first comprehensive attempt to document and compare systematically the welfare of Arctic residents on a circumpolar basis.
  • In order to make better use of financial and other resources allocated to Arctic research, the Icelandic Chairmanship emphasized the strengthened relationship and cooperation among parties involved in Arctic research. The increased involvement of science and education authorities, as well as Arctic residents, in such cooperation was considered instrumental to its success.
  • Resulting from the work of the Arctic Council Project Support Fund Expert Group, Arctic Ministers requested at the Reykjavik Ministerial meeting in 2004 that Senior Arctic Officials establish an Arctic Council Project Support Instrument (PSI) that should focus on funding activities aimed at preventing and mitigating pollution in the Arctic, and develop a set of guidelines for the Instrument in close cooperation with the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) and the Arctic Council’s Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) Working Group.

Iceland is committed to the principle of sustainable development and recognizes the necessity of close cooperation between the States and peoples of the region and beyond. Iceland will hold its third Chairmanship in 2035-2037.

Pétur Ásgeirsson
Pétur Ásgeirsson
Senior Arctic Official; Ambassador

Contact for press inquiries

Sveinn Guðmarsson
Press Officer
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Rauðarárstíg 25, IS 150 Reykjavík
+354 545 9974

@IcelandArctic
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