Registry estimates in 1990 attribute to the town a population of 255,708 residents (they were 229,187 at the 1980 census), corresponding to an average density of 2.5 residents / km 2. The large and small coastal centers are home to 90% of the population, while the colonization centers of the interior continue to have an insignificant weight. The importance of the district of Reykjanes (located in the south-west) is increasingly evident, in which two thirds of the population of the entire country is concentrated and where the density rises to 81 residents / km 2. The three main cities of this district – Reykjavik, the capital (97.569 residents), Hafnarfjördur (15.151 residents) And Kópavogur (16.186 residents) – form a conurbation which, together with the northern Akureyri (14.174 residents), Has a increasing attraction on the island population.
The birth rate, starting from the second half of the 1970s, fell to 18.7 ‰. The mortality rate (6.7 ‰) slightly increased compared to the previous decade (6.5 ‰), while that of infant mortality, which went from 12.5 ‰ in 1975 to 6.3 ‰ in 1990, is one of the most basses of the world.
In 1990, according to estimates by the World Bank, the gross domestic product of Iceland (measured at 1988-90 prices) was almost US $ 5.5 billion, corresponding to more than US $ 21,000 per capita (a value that places the country in the top fifteen of the world ranking). During the 1980s, GDP increased on average to an annual average of 2.4%; the growth of GDP per capita it was only 1.2% per year: these two values were significantly affected by the decrease that occurred in the years 1988-90, estimated at around 4% per year. In terms of land use, there is an increase in the arable area (from 0.01% in 1976 to 1.3% in 1989) which, irrelevant in absolute terms, is noteworthy in consideration of the harshness of the climate. Among the plants, only the potato manages to complete the vegetative cycle outdoors in some particularly sunny areas (1000 ha for 149.000 q in 1990); the remaining vegetable productions are obtained in greenhouses that use the thermal waters as a source of heating. Cereals represent one of the most important import items (131,000 q imported in 1989). Sheep farming still represents an important resource (548. 000 head and 1200 t of wool yarn in 1990) and provides, together with the bovine one (75,000 head), a moderate production of dairy products and meat. Pig and fur animal breeding and poultry farming are in progress. The main resource of the Iceland however, fishing remains (1,501,000 tons of catch in 1990), whose products represent the most important item of Icelandic exports.
In 1984 a body was created which aims to collect knowledge relating to fishing, marine biology and the techniques of conservation and sale of fish products, in order to improve the protection and further development of the Icelandic fishing industry, which is served by a fishing fleet of 966 units for 126,000 tonnes.
Poor in mineral resources and fuel, the Iceland it obtains 95% of its electricity from hydroelectric power plants; the remaining 5% is of geothermal origin. The main industrial activities are related to the processing of fish products. The aluminum industry is also of some importance, located in Straumsvík, whose production is largely exported.
Over the last decade, the trade balance has progressively reduced its deficit, reaching balance in 1989, thanks to the lower cost of petroleum products and the increase in the prices of fish products on international markets (especially North America).
The agreements on fishing rights, stipulated in the second half of the 1970s and in the first half of the 1980s, have improved international relations of the Iceland; relations which, above all with Great Britain, had gone through moments of great tension until the breakdown of diplomatic relations, which took place a few months before the agreement reached in June 1976. Agreements were also signed with Denmark and Norway (1980-81) which defined the respective fishing areas, after the Iceland it had extended its zone of law up to 200 nautical miles.
Fishing continues to represent the main resource of the country and constitutes the main share of exports, decisively affecting the balance of the trade balance. THERE. it is also dependent on imports for a wide range of raw materials and products; it is therefore on the whole very exposed to the fluctuations of the international market and was strongly affected by the world crisis of the mid-1970s. Economic problems therefore represented one of the main causes of the political instability that characterized the country.
The elections of June 1974 led to the formation of a government which included the Progressive Party and the Independence Party led by G. Hallgrímsson. The deflationary policy launched by the new coalition and aimed at combating the high rate of inflation aroused deep discontent and resulted, with the elections of June 1978, in the clear defeat of the governing parties and the victory of the left. The government formed in September, led by the progressive O. Jóhannesson and composed of the Progressive Party, the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Alliance, had a rather troubled existence due to internal divisions concerning both economic and foreign policy choices, especially for the opposition of the People’s Alliance to the permanence of the Iceland in NATO. The exit of the Social Democrats led to the resignation of the government and the political elections, which took place in December 1979 but did not decisively change the situation. In February 1980 a government was formed, chaired by G. Thoroddsen, in which the separatists, progressives and the People’s Alliance participated.
In June 1980 V. Finnbogadóttir, an independent left-backed candidate, known for her opposition to US military bases in Iceland, was elected to the presidency of the Republic. the resignation and in April 1983 the general elections were held which marked an advance of the separatists and the entry into Parliament of two new parties: the Social Democratic Federation (later dissolved in 1986) and the Alliance of women, which together conquered 13% of the votes. A center-right government was formed with separatists and progressives, led by the progressivist S. Hermannsson whose fundamental problem was that of reducing the rate of inflation, which in 1983 rose to 87%.
The elections of April 1987, in which the right to vote was lowered to eighteen, registered a defeat of the governing parties, in particular of the separatists, an advance of the Social Democrats and the Alliance of Women, a good affirmation of the Party of citizens, founded in the same year on a generically conservative program with a populist character. After lengthy negotiations, a new government was formed in July led by the independentist T. Pálsson and made up of social democrats, progressives and separatists.
Although it found itself operating in a markedly improved economic situation (the inflation rate had dropped to 12% in 1986), the government, worn out by internal conflicts, resigned in September 1988. The President of the Republic V. Finnbogadóttir, confirmed in the office in June 1988, entrusted the task to S. Hermannsson, who in the same month of September launched a government composed of the parties of the previous coalition, to which the Citizens’ Party was added in September 1989. In April 1991 the elections recorded the victory of the Independent Party, which went from 18 to 26 seats, and the defeat of the Citizens’ Party, which did not obtain any parliamentary representation. The situation of the other political forces remained virtually unchanged. A center-right government was launched at the end of April, leader of the independence party.