Ice­land To­day

Ice­land is lo­cated in the At­lantic Ocean, near the Arc­tic Cir­cle, be­tween Green­land and Nor­way. Con­trary to what the name sug­gests “ice” only cov­ers about 10% of the land. Ac­tive vol­ca­noes, bright green val­leys, glacier-cut creeks, black sand beaches and

Southasia - - SPECIAL FEATURE -

For­eign pol­icy and re­la­tions

A global ad­vo­cate for lib­er­al­iza­tion of in­ter­na­tional trade, Ice­land takes a clear po­si­tion on a na­ture-friendly, pol­lu­tion-free and cli­mate change sen­si­tized ap­proach of do­ing busi­ness. Ice­land col­lab­o­rates on prin­ci­ples of re­spect for hu­man rights and peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of dis­putes.

Eco­nomic and free trade agree­ments high­light Ice­land’s eco­nomic se­cu­rity-ori­ented re­la­tions with the world. Its bi­lat­eral free trade agree­ments have re­sulted in en­hanced re­la­tions with the USA, Mex­ico and, more re­cently, with China. Ice­land’s green econ­omy ex­per­tise in re­new­able en­ergy, hy­dro and geo­ther­mal power fur­thers eco­nomic, se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment re­la­tions with Asian coun­tries, in­clud­ing China and In­dia. Ice­land also part­ners

with three sub-Sa­ha­ran coun­tries: Malawi, Mozam­bique and Uganda in fish­eries, ed­u­ca­tion and health.

Econ­omy

Ice­land’s clean en­ergy, its ma­rine re­sources, strong in­fra­struc­ture and well-ed­u­cated work­force, pro­vide a firm ba­sis to over­come the eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties and im­ple­ment nec­es­sary re­forms. The GDP in 2011 was recorded at USD 13.98 bil­lion: 59% ex­ports, 51% im­ports. A per capita GDP of USD 43,800 was recorded in the same year.

Ice­land’s pri­va­ti­za­tion drive has al­lowed the govern­ment to fo­cus on the key en­abling ar­eas of re­new­able en­ergy, health, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial wel­fare. The ex­port base is rel­a­tively nar­row and largely based on such nat­u­ral re­sources as fish­eries, en­ergy-in­ten­sive in­dus­tries and tourism, These in­dus­tries are pre­dom­i­nantly oc­cu­pied by small and medium-sized businesses.

In­dus­try

Ice­land is amongst global lead­ers in sec­tors like geo­ther­mal en­ergy, fish­eries, and IT/Gam­ing sup­ported by an ed­u­cated pop­u­la­tion and low cor­po­rate tax rate. Ice­land of­fers a wide va­ri­ety of busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in data cen­ters, en­ergy de­pen­dent in­dus­tries, food pro­duc­tion and other in­dus­tries. A large num­ber of over­seas in­vestors have lo­cated businesses and es­tab­lished new plants in Ice­land.. The coun­try of­fers a very at­trac­tive pack­age for new in­vest­ment, in­clud­ing re­duced 20% taxation and long-term en­ergy con­tracts for cost-ef­fec­tive clean en­ergy.

So­cial Wel­fare

Ice­landers en­joy com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tional, health and so­cial se­cu­rity cov­er­age from the state. Ed­u­ca­tion is free and there is no tu­ition fee. Al­most all Ice­landers at­tend the state-run qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes. Thus Ice­land en­joys uni­ver­sal-lit­er­acy and a vi­brant lit­er­ary so­ci­ety. Ice­landers are also termed the hap­pi­est people in the world, at­trib­ut­able to com­pre­hen­sive health­care cov­er­age and one of the high­est per capita in­come economies. Ice­land is also termed as the best place in the world for women to live due to its very high rat­ings in gen­der equal­ity. Women form a ma­jor and in­te­gral part of the so­cial, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal fab­ric and en­joy equal rights.

Tourism

‘Think Reykjavik – Think fam­ily time’ sets the tone for tourism in Ice­land. In 2013, nearly a mil­lion tourists vis­ited Ice­land which has quickly be­come the tourism des­ti­na­tion of pref­er­ence for fam­ily and eco-tourists. A fine blend of mod­ernism and na­ture, the cap­i­tal city of Reykjavik pre­sents a post­card de­pic­tion of tourist at­trac­tions. The ac­cep­tance of Schen­gen Visa has also made Ice­land a must stopover for Euro­pean tourists. The fam­ily friendly nat­u­ral hot springs, views of the mag­i­cal north­ern lights, a breath­tak­ing land­scape and ad­ven­tur­ous in­lands are com­pelling at­trac­tions.

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