Demography and economic geography. – Island state of northwestern Europe. The population of the small Nordic state increased by 26% between 1992 and 2014, from 264,922 residents to 333,135 (according to an estimate by UNDESA, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), while maintaining a low density, over an area 103,000 km 2. The high number of births and the prolongation of life expectancy contribute to the growth of the natives; up to now immigration has involved fewer than 20,000 people, of which the largest group, just over 8,000, came from Poland. The demographic distribution is not homogeneous: the residents of the other six municipalities included in the capital region increased by 35% (Reykjavík, 121,841 residents at the census of March 2015), while the more distant smaller cities and above all the rural areas are clearly decreasing., penalized by adverse weather conditions. The population growth of Icelanders seems not to have been affected by the financial crisis of 2008, which catalyzed world attention on the events of the remote island. Another event of global resonance was the series of eruptions of the Eyjafjöll volcano,
The Iceland, although devoid of armed forces, is part of NATO; he is also a member of the Nordic Council. Since June 2011, the government has started the process for admission to the European Union. According to the comparative surveys of national statistics, the Iceland it is among the first places for citizens’ longevity, literacy level and social cohesion.
The particular history of long isolation, combined with the traditional passion of the residents for family trees through the centuries, made the Iceland particularly interesting for the study of human genetics and hereditary diseases (official statistics are available on the website http://www.statice.is/).
Politics. – The high levels of growth of the Icelandic economy of the previous decade, with the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, proved to be an ephemeral success: the wave of distrust triggered in the country, in fact, caused the three main banks to collapse, later nationalized. An unprecedented economic crisis opened, which forced the Iceland to sign agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to pay off their debt and to devalue their national currency.
Accused of failing to cope with the crisis, the coalition government between the conservative Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) of Prime Minister Geir Hilmar Haarde and the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin) was forced to resign. The subsequent elections (April 2009) saw the success of the center-left coalition between the Alliance of Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir – first female prime minister of Iceland and the world’s first openly homosexual premier – and the Left-Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin – grænt framboð).
The new government appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the causes of the crisis and all suspected fraud, and then set up the trial against the alleged perpetrators. Haarde was also tried, and acquitted (April 2012), for alleged negligence in the crisis. A Constitutional Council was also appointed to rewrite part of the fundamental charter: citizens were invited to contribute to this through social networks. In terms of civil rights, marriages between same-sex couples were legalized (June 2010). The center-left government also requested entry into the EU (July 2009).
Despite the executive’s success in economic recovery and the rejection of austerity, the coalition between the Independence Party and the Progressive Party (Framsóknarflokkurinn) prevailed in the elections of April 2013, whose president Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson became prime minister. The new government suspended EU accession negotiations (Sept. 2013) pending a popular referendum on the issue. In March 2015, with a letter, the Foreign Minister expressed the intention of the Iceland to withdraw the application for entry into the EU: pending the completion of the necessary steps, however, it was not yet a formal withdrawal.