Information on Iceland and its people
Iceland is 103,000 square kilometres in area. Most built-up areas are around the coastline. Vegetation covers 23,805 sq. km, lakes 2,757 sq. km, glaciers 11,922 sq. km, and wasteland 64,538 sq. km. The coastline is 4,970 km in length. Icelandic municipalities are 124 in number, including 30 villages and towns. On 1 December 2001 the nation numbered 286.250, 142.290 men and 142.960 women. The population is not evenly distributed, as approximately 180,000 persons reside in Reykjavík and the neighbouring communities.
It can not be denied that in the context of border control, Iceland's geographical situation is an advantage and simplifies it greatly. Ocean areas within the territorial fishing limits (200 nautical miles) total 758.000 sq. km. Iceland lies between Greenland in the west (distance 735 km) and Norway in the east (distance 1500 km). To the south there are the Faeroe Islands (771 km) and Britain (1100 km). This makes it obvious that border control at sea can be organised in an effective manner to prevent, for example, the arrival of illegal immigrants. At the same time the coasts of Iceland outside established border posts are difficult to traverse and inhospitable, so that the coastline would be hard to use in the purpose of placing people ashore illegally. Furthermore, the Icelandic Coast Guard actively patrols the ocean around the island, with increasing efficiency as technical possibilities, such as the use of satellites, develop. It is also important in this context to keep in mind that organised passenger voyages to Iceland only take place in the period May – September each year, when one ferry sails once a week between Iceland and the Faeroe Islands after having stopped in Danish and Norwegian harbours. In the same period there is also some luxury liner traffic to Iceland.