from Wikipedia Iceland:
Iceland, officially the Republic of Iceland (Icelandic: Ísland or Lýðveldið Ísland (names of Iceland); IPA: [ˈliðvɛltɪð ˈistlant]) is a country in northern Europe, comprising the island of Iceland and its outlying islets in the North Atlantic Ocean between the rest of Europe and Greenland. It is the least populous of the Nordic countries and the second smallest; it has a population of about 316,000 (April 1, 2008 estimate) and a total area of 103,000 km². Its capital and largest city is Reykjavík.
Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland is volcanically and geologically active on a large scale; this defines the landscape in various ways. The interior mainly consists of a plateau characterized by sand fields, mountains and glaciers, while many big glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, Iceland has a temperate climate relative to its latitude and provides a habitable environment and nature.
The settlement of Iceland began in 874 when, according to Landnámabók, the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfur Arnarson became the first permanent Norwegian settler on the island. Others had visited the island earlier and stayed over winter. Over the next centuries, people of Nordic and Gaelic origin settled in Iceland. Until the twentieth century, the Icelandic population relied on fisheries and agriculture, and was from 1262 to 1918 a part of the Norwegian and later the Danish monarchies. In the twentieth century, Iceland's economy and welfare system developed quickly. In recent decades, Iceland has seen economic reforms, free trade in the European Economic Area, and diversification from fishing to new economic fields in services, finance, and various industries.
Today, Iceland has some of the world's highest levels of economic freedoms as well as civil freedoms. As of 2007, Iceland is the most developed country in the world with fellow Nordic country Norway according to the Human Development Index and one of the most egalitarian, according to the calculation provided by the Gini coefficient. It is also the fourth most productive country per capita. Icelanders have a rich culture and heritage, such as cuisine and poetry (thus the country itself has many names coined by poets). Iceland is a member of the UN, NATO, EFTA, EEA and OECD, but not of the European Union. The country is a candidate for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council.