Iceland
Republic of Iceland
May 30
Europe


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 103,000 sq.km. A volcanic island in the North Atlantic; mountainous, largely barren with many large glaciers.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 280,969 +0.92% 3 per sq. km.
2010 303,644 +0.73% 3 per sq. km.
2025 328,356 +0.44% 3 per sq. km.

Capital Reykjavik 105,487. Urbanites 92%.

PEOPLES

Icelandic 95.9%.

Other 4.1% (mostly European). Danish 2,250; Swedish 1,500.

Literacy 100%. Official language Icelandic. All languages 2. Languages with Scriptures 1Bi.

ECONOMY

The fishing industry has been the largest income source, but conservation measures limit this. Enormous potential in hydro and thermal power resources, allowing for cheap aluminium processing. Unemployment 3.9%. HDI 0.919; 9th/174. Public debt 45.5% of GNP. Income/person $27,580 (87.9% of USA).

POLITICS

The world's oldest parliament, established in 930. Under Norwegian and Danish rule 1262-1944. Parliamentary republic, and a member of NATO.

RELIGION

The Lutheran Church is still recognized as the State Church, but there is religious freedom.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 95.61 268,634 +0.6%
non-Religious 2.14 6,013 +5.8%
Other 1.78 5,000 +12.8%
Baha'i 0.15 421 +0.9%
Buddhist 0.15 421 +11.7%
Traditional Norse 0.13 365 +14.2%
Muslim 0.04 112 n.a.

Christians Denom. Affil. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 16 93.76 263 +0.6%
Catholic 1 1.38 4 +8.8%
Marginal 3 0.47 1 +4.0%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
National Church (Luth) P 284 174,281 249,222
Evang Luth Free [2] P 1 5,958 8,520
Catholic C 4 2,771 3,880
Indep Lutheran P 1 1,529 2,187
Pentecostal Mvt P 14 1,078 1,520
Charismatic Chs [5] P 8 665 1,070
Seventh-day Adventist P 6 550 726
Jehovah's Witnesses M 8 334 635
Pentecostal Fellowship M 1 230 500
Other denoms [7]   6 284 358
Total Christians [21]   333 187,700 268,600

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical

3.3

9 +2.3%
Charismatic

1.8

5 +4.0%
  Pentecostal

1.1

3 +5.7%

Missionaries from Iceland
P,I,A 31 in 7 agencies to 7 countries.

Missionaries to Iceland
P,I,A 16 in 8 agencies from 4 countries.



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Answers to Prayer

1 Missions vision is small, but growing, despite Iceland's geographical and cultural isolation. YWAM's influence over the past years, and the 1996 formation of the Icelandic Mission Movement are positive factors. The evangelical/Pentecostal churches are encouraging short term missions (about 80 have gone in the past 3 years). Joint outreaches with other churches in North Atlantic/Scandanavian countries are being developed. Pray that the believing Church becomes ever more an outward-looking missionary Church.

Challenges for Prayer

1 The majority of Icelanders are only nominally Christian. As modern society drifts away from faith, the rates of suicide, substance abuse, and crime have all increased. Most Icelanders have had some involvement with New Age ideologies, the occult, and other such practices. Some of the more isolated areas are spiritual wastelands, with almost no active Christianity at all. Ask the Lord to arrest this spiritual slide and awaken Icelanders to their spiritual needs.

2 The Lutheran and smaller, but similar, Free Churches are often compromised by liberal theology and practice; many are opposed to the preaching of the true gospel. A few pastors and congregations remain faithful, and in some cases congregations are growing. Pray that they might prosper in the Lord. Only a fraction of members actually attend church. Pray for a surge of new vigour and fervour in the congregations, the leadership and the Theological Faculty where all pastors are trained.

3 Evangelical believers number only about 9,000. YWAM ceased operations after their work within the Lutheran Church saw little fruit. But the growing Pentecostal and charismatic churches are displaying admirable unity and cooperation. They are at the forefront of a move to plant an evangelical congregation within two hours' drive of every person. Since 1996 the Pentecostals together with World Horizons have run a 3 month Bible school and the ex-YWAM training centre has become a residential Christian training community. These programmes are having a strong positive impact upon the life of the Church in general. Pray that the living faith and unity of Evangelicals might open the hearts of many to the good news.

4 KSF(IFES) work among the 3,000 university students is proving fruitful, and there are many encouraging signs in the evangelical youth movements. Pray that those who love the Lord may maintain a glowing testimony where indifference is so widespread.

5 The Bible Society published a new Bible version in 1999. Pray for the Gideons and their Bible distribution ministry. Pray also that the Word of God might filter into every element of society.

6 Christian Radio. Radio Lindin, which reaches about 90% of the population, has been a blessing to believers and has been used to bring some unbelievers to faith.

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