Travel Guides: Iceland
Iceland is a country in Northern Europe, which includes the island of Iceland and its outlying islands to the north of the Atlantic Ocean between the rest of Europe and Greenland.
It is the smallest northern country by population and the penultimate by area – it has about 313,000 inhabitants and 103,000 km² area. Iceland’s capital and its largest city is Reykjavik. Iceland is an island in the north Atlantic island surrounded by Greenland (east), Norway and Norwegian Sea (west), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (north-west). Because of the volcanic character, the landscape of the island is dominated by volcanic cones, craters, hot springs, geysers and glaciers. Life here has proven to be risky because of the volcanoes. In 1783, when a volcano erupted near Laki, caused devastating damage: 9,000 people died, 80% of the animals of the island died and was destroyed vast majority of cultivated land. Other major eruptions followed in 1963 and then in 1973 when a volcano caused the evacuation of Heimaey Island’s main town of the island, Vestmannaeyjar.
In terms of tourism, the island is particularly interesting, offering an unprecedented show of fire and water. Despite the isolation, the country has a high standard of living, coupled with high prices. People are detained and cold at first, but once the ice is broken by tourists, residents turn out to be very friendly. Ideal is a holiday weekend in Reykjavik where the sites are proving to be a real source of entertainment for both tourists and its residents. Somewhere near the Arctic Circle, between Greenland and the North Sea, built on an island in the play of fire and water, volcanoes and geysers, today people live in good neighborly relations with the elves, and angels-tales. This is not a story but is set in a European country marked in any atlas: Iceland. Located on the combining of the European and American tectonic plates, that country is often reshaped by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Its history began in the late ninth century, when Norwegian farmers and Vikings populated the wild lands bringing the Celts from Ireland. In 930 they formed the first democratic assembly in Europe, Althing (Icelandic Parliament). The 283,000 inhabitants of Iceland today talk about the same as their ancestors: the old Scandinavian language. Everything belongs to their record of being elected the first female president, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, who led the country from 1980 until 1996. It might sound strange, Iceland has no railway network and the transport is made by car, aircraft or ships. Icelanders can, however, boast a literacy level of 100%, with a poverty level of 0% of the population, but also with the expansion of modern technologies in all areas.
While all these things already say about them that they are different, yet what distinguishes them, how emblematic of other nations, is their belief in the existence of supernatural beings that call them hidden people. According to surveys, 10% of Icelanders are convinced that share the island with the elves, 10% others deny this idea while 80% majority believes that the existence of invisible beings is a possibility worthy of attention. Hafnarfjordur, a small port near the capital Reykjavik, seems to be the place where most people live in complete harmony with these subtle beings. They have contacted Stefansdottir Erla, piano teacher and clairvoyant, to draw a map for more special. Thus, one of the attractions of the small port of Iceland is ride at the elves houses. Mayor of Hafnarfjordus, Magnus Gunnarsson, showed pride in the document evidencing the invisible world of the city he leads. Very pleased with their neighbors, he said that in this way, and tourists will discover that in the city, with ordinary people, live supernatural beings.
Reykjavik, until recently one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the world, became more attractive up to 50% to tourists in recent months, the economic crisis causing a dramatic devaluation of the Icelandic currency (Krona). The moon landscape of Iceland, due to the dramatic geology of the region, sulfur lakes and extinct volcanoes, is animated by the local nightlife, which, at least during the summer months take advantage of daylight for nearly 24 hours, many bars being open on weekends until dawn. Among the hottest locations is included Kaffibarinn, an intimate bar, where co-owner is the lead singer of the band Blur, who used to attend it in the 90s. Not less appreciated are Sirkus or Cafe Oliver, a local crowded, noisy and unpredictable as a circus arena.
This does not mean that during the day you have nothing to visit. You can either head to the National Museum of Art (National Gallery of Art), is to, surprise, a gallery of bad taste (Bad Taste Gallery), which, far from being about kitsch, culture immerses you in sound and visual experiments, the ideal universe of artists like Björk. A getaway in nature can be just as thrilling experience. The Eld Hestar stables, located approximately 30 minutes drive from Reykjavik thoroughbred horses can be rented for a trip on horseback in the neighborhood. And if you get to these strange places, a visit around the town of Hafnarfjordur, with the dark slopes and mossy lava fields, makes you understand why the Nordic tales are haunted by the imaginary creatures such as elves or gnomes.
They say the area has the highest density of fantastic characters in the world per square meter. Blue Lagoon: In Iceland, geothermal pools are met on all roads and the most famous geothermal spa and one of Iceland’s main attractions is the Blue Lagoon, located about 13 km from Keflavik International Airport and 39 kilometers southwest of Reykjavik. In this outdoor spa, mineral-rich water, heated naturally, has an average temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. Contrasting sensations – among which are immersed in hot water and cold air bit of breathing while you are boost by the scenery that delights the eye: an icy blue background, looming sulfur steam, like a movie with special effects. “If you want to make friends, come to the spa” is a word from the site.
Travel by bus from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon, including entrance and closet for clothes alone costs around 4,400 krona per person (of which 3400 represent only the right of access to the lagoon). Ice Bar: Ice bar restaurant is part of Reykjavik, Iceland situated in the heart of the capital. Ice Bar includes a single room with walls of ice, an ice bar, ice covered with some fur seats and a large window that opens into the restaurant. Before entering the bar, you are given a thick coat to withstand the temperature inside (4 degrees Celsius), and once entered you get a drink meant to chase away the cold, usually Brennivin (Black Death).
Fish Market: It’s not the overseas market, but a restaurant very popular with locals and tourists. The menu focuses mainly on fish dishes and seafood. Even if the offer “Under the Sea” will not tempt you in particular, preparations are so well done, that, finally, and most of the picky remain satisfied. How about, for example, grilled whale? The meat has the appearance and consistency of beef, juicy and flavor but very special saline, which repays the one ordered to such initiations. A full meal for two, with drinks included, currently costs about 175 euros. Iceland is a large island characterized by a wild and colorful landscape, black lava, red sulfur, blue geysers, waterfalls and green valleys and coastline is indented by numerous bays and fjords.
If you are interested in nature, then Iceland is the perfect destination. In summer, many companies offer guided bus tours all over the country. You can also go hiking on your own, such as areas near Thorsmoerk, Snaefellsjoekull and more. Another alternative is the horse rides. Iceland is one of the most active countries in terms of volcanoes. Hekla has erupted in the south 16 times, as described by priests as “the gateway to hell”. In coastal regions, however, reins the civilization, especially in the capital Reykjavik, where over half the population. Reykjavik is located in a bay surrounded by mountains and hot springs in an area that creates a natural and environmentally friendly heating. The capital is a bustling center, with buildings that combine ancient architecture and modern fashion. Although a small city, Reykjavik has a lively nightlife hundreds of revelers.
Main attractions: Take a trip to the Golden Circle, in Thingvellir, the place where there is the old Icelandic parliament, Gullfoss, the most famous waterfall in the country, with a 30 m waterfall and Geysir, the place where hot springs outward. Walk on a black sand beach on the south coast near Vik, and then visit the small village folk museum Skogar. Relax in the Westfjords. In this spectacular scenery are the most isolated villages in the country. Latrabjarg, the northernmost point of Europe, is the largest bird cliff in the world at a height of 400 m. Discover the mysterious landscape of the whirlwind made of mud volcanoes, craters, lava fields and patches of grass and water, which teem with birds at Lake Myvatn, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
Follow the footsteps of James Bond and visit Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, a favorite of photographers and directors, and where floating glaciers create a surreal landscape. Join nature lovers who come to the islands each spring in Westmann to see Pufina return to nest after spending the winter at sea. In August Pufina million chicks leave the nest for the first time and learn to fly. Explore Landmannalaugar, the pearl in upper central provinces. This landscape is colored green, yellow, orange and red is punctuated by many hot springs and ponds and is a paradise for artists and those who are hiking. Visit Akureyri, 60 km south of the Arctic Circle, which has a superb location at the end of Eyjafjordur Fjord, the longest in the country. Explore the island of Grimsey.
Bathe yourself in the turquoise waters of Blue Lagoon. Situated in lunar lava fields, the lagoon is famous for its curative properties and mineral-rich geothermal water. Watch the whales. The waters around Iceland are among the best in the world to capture a variety of whales. Take trips – from Skaftafell National Park to the Westfjords and peninsula Snaefellnes. Icelandic horses are a species perfectly adapted to land, riding on deserted beaches and lava fields being a popular sport. Spend New Year in Iceland. Hundreds of thousands of bonfires and fireworks mark the transition into a new year in the capital Reykjavik. Ride your snowmobile on the ice. Adrenaline is guaranteed. Attend one of the most impressive spectacles of nature – from September to March you can see the aurora borealis.
The food in Iceland is generally based on lamb and fish and has many Scandinavian and European influences. Fish is 70% of the country’s export goods. Also many vegetables are grown in greenhouses heated naturally in geysers of steam. In cafes, you pay only the first cup of coffee, the rest being free. Salmon is a great delicacy in Iceland and is served in many ways. Other specialties include national hangikjot (afmata lamb), hardfiskur (dried fish) and escutcheon (herring marinated in various flavors). Another delicacy is the weirdest rotten shark meat. Brennivin specific drink is an alcoholic beverage made from potatoes.
Iceland has a homogeneous population in terms of classes and a strong literary tradition. Calling is done by name because the name is composed of father’s name plus “son” or “daughter”. For example, John, son of Magnus will be named Magnusson, and his sister Mary will be called Magnusdottir. Fru means Ms. and Herra means Mr. If you can not find a topic while speaking to a Icelandic, say something about the weather. Locals are excited by tourists’ marvels about short winter days and the absence of nights from May to August. Credit cards are accepted everywhere in the hall outside Reykjavik. Prepare to be asked many times what do you think about Iceland. It is good to have an answer in advance.
Icelanders are very proud of Iceland and the nature here, and if you praise them immediately guided tours will open opportunities and other services. A popular belief has been preserved in Iceland about the people who live hidden in rocks and caves. Large rocks are often avoided in order not to upset people. Some Icelanders say they have seen these creatures and there is even a museum dedicated to the people hiding in Reykjavik. Even those who do not believe in these beings are reluctant to speak ill of them.
The first inhabitants of Iceland are Irish immigrant monks around the year 800. A true colonization of the island is between 847 and 930 by Norman originating from the Norwegian coast of Scandinavia. In 1262, Iceland joins Norway, and in 1380 it is joined together with Denmark. In 1874, Iceland obtains internal autonomy, and in 1919 became a sovereign state in personal union with Denmark (linked by the same king). In 1944, Iceland is proclaimed an independent republic.
Area: Total: 103,000 sq km, Water: 2750 km, Land: 100,250 sq km. Climate: Tempered, moderated by warm currents in the Atlantic. Extreme points: The deepest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m, Highest point: 2119 m Hvannadalshnukur. Population: 280,798 (July 2003 estimate). Age structure: Between 0 and 14 years: 22.7% (32 902 men, women 30 952), 15-64 years: 65.4% (92 519 men, women 91 000), over 65 years: 11.9% (14 973 men, women 18 452) (2003 estimate). Ethnic groups: Iceland 99%, others 1%. Religion: Lutheran 87.1%, Protestant 4.1%, Roman – Catholic 1.7%, other religions 7.1%. Languages spoken: Icelandic. Capital: Reykjavik. Independence Day: June 17.
Coin: Icelandic Crown (ISK). Means of communication: Telephones: 196,984 (2001 estimate), Mobile: 248 131 (2001 estimate), TV stations: 14, Internet country code: .is, Internet users: 220,000 (2001 estimate), Airports: 82 (2002 estimate). Form of government: republic. Population: 309.699 inhabitants. Official language: Icelandic. Religion: 82% members of the Church of Iceland. The country is a basalt plateau (640-760 m), which rises about 100 volcanic cones, many of whom are active (Hekla, Laki, Vatnajökull, 2000 m, Hofsjökull, 1765 m, Mýrdalsjökull, 1450 m), hot springs and geysers, massive glaciers. Plains occupy small areas on the shores.
Rivers: Gentle, Jökulsá, Skjálfandafljót, Þjórsá, Hvit. Glacial lakes: Þingvellir, Thoris. The vegetation is composed of tundra and plantations of conifers; fauna: various species of birds, fish and whales. Iceland’s coast is cold oceanic climate. Warm North Atlantic current creates a temperature generally higher than other areas at the same latitude. Winters are mild and windy and cold and wet summers. High central provinces have the lowest temperatures on the island. Around the two major tourist cities, Reykjavik and Akureyri, you can make excursions to discover the many memorable sights. In the cold months, many tourists come to witness the spectacle offered by the aurora borealis.
Points of interest: Blue Lagoon, famous pool and health center. It is a geothermal spa in the middle of a lava field in the Reykjavik city. Thingvellir National Park, designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO, Gullfoss, the Golden Falls, created by Hvit River, 60 miles from Reykjavik; Kerio, volcanic lake; Geysir, geothermal point; Myvatn, a lake located near Akureyri in the north; Skaftafell National Park, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon; Landmannalaugar; Dettifoss – the largest waterfall in Europe. Icelandic cuisine abounds in fish and lamb, cooked in different ways. Smoked sausages lamb hangikjöt, smoked lamb, Skyros, hardfisk, pieces of dried fish, served as a snack with butter, hákarl, famous rotten shark cubes delicacies delight any traditional meal.
Conditions of entry and residence regime: Conditions in Iceland are the input provided by the system of regulations governing admission to the Schengen (Schengen area Member States are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Hungary). These conditions are: possession of a valid passport (Passport must be valid at least three months beyond the date of concluding the trip); possession of documents proving the stated purpose of the trip (invitation, booking holidays, travel tickets, medical insurance, green card, etc.); possession of the necessary funds to cover expenses during the trip; applied in possession of a visa valid passport, which is required for travel visa; absence of a prohibition of entry into the Schengen area (this can be checked by the border authorities in consultation with the Schengen Information System).
To check the specific entry conditions stipulated by Icelandic national legislation (regarding the minimum amounts, health insurance scheme and the need to obtain visas) it is recommended consulting the official information provided by the Icelandic authorities. Citizens do not need entry visa to Iceland, for purposes of tourism travel, visit, business, sports that do not exceed 90 days. Right of residence for travel without a visa is 90 days in a period of six months. If there are multiple trips, the 90 days are calculated by aggregating the periods subsequent of stay in a period of six months from the date of first entry. If there is no visa is not allowed to travel without carrying out any profit or educational activities.
Citizens traveling to Iceland to work, for study or for purposes other than tourism, business, or sports, they must obtain entry visas in accordance with the purpose of the trip. The most common travel situations for which it is necessary to obtain visas are based on contract work, independent work, family reunification, education, religious activities. Icelandic authorities are not issuing visas at the border. Entry visas can be obtained only from foreign embassies or consulates in Iceland. Exceeding the limit of stay, violating the stated purpose of the trip or the impossibility of proving the date of entry into Iceland are considered violations of the law on aliens and is liable to expulsion from Iceland and the enforcement of a ban of entry into the Schengen area for up to 10 years.
Upon entering Iceland, border authorities can check for the trip, with the documents justifying the purpose of the trip, and documents that were the basis for obtaining a visa (for trips requiring a visa). Failure to submit these documents and presenting them in a form that does not justify the stated purpose of the trip may not allow the entry points. Terrorist Threats: Iceland has suffered direct terrorist attacks on national territory. After the terrorist attacks in Madrid (March 11, 2004) and London (July 7, 2005), authorities in all European countries have imposed a state of preventive alert, intended to signal possible repetition of such attacks.
Citizens traveling to Iceland are advised to always follow announcements and recommendations made by the Icelandic authorities and regularly access the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Safety and crime: Iceland is a country with a very low level of crime. Minor offenses such as pick-pocketing, deception or theft of cars can occur in crowded areas (stations, stations, parking lots, shopping centers, gas stations or motorway service areas). It is recommended that documents and personal values, tickets and money or credit cards to be kept in safe places and not be visibly displayed on the person or in cars.
Cars must be locked and secured with alarm system. If traveling by bus or train is advisable to keep attention on luggage throughout the trip. For night out, especially in crowded areas, it is recommended that personal papers to be left at the hotel and to keep only one copy of identity documents (passport, residence permit). In the event of incidents affecting security of person or property, it is recommended contacting the nearest police office. In case of serious incidents (accidents, robbery), which requires immediate intervention of Icelandic authorities, call these emergency numbers: 112 – Emergency Service.
Medical System: Health insurance is compulsory in Iceland. It is recommended that all citizens who travel to Iceland to complete medical insurance and travel for the entire duration of the trip. If you need medical services should be made first contact with the agent or partner of the Icelandic insurance company that has signed the policy. This will indicate the unit or medical units that can provide medical services under the insurance policy. Medical services are provided in accordance with the terms stipulated in the insurance policy. Additional medical services not covered by insurance, will be paid individually by the customer.
Auto Traffic Conditions: In Iceland, the movement of vehicles is done on the right side of the road. The general state of roads and infrastructure is very good. Permissible speed limits: 50 km / h inside villages and 80 km / h outside towns. For information on road conditions, speed limits and special conditions of traffic, you can access website the Icelandic websites. Driving license: driving premise is valid for a period of 90 days from the date of entry into Iceland. Information for cases of traffic accident: In case of accident complete with the other side of the standard form provided by local insurance companies, on the accident.
Note the identification of the other vehicle involved in the accident and the insurance company it. If the accident is an injury, call the local police, after you have given first aid. Each insurance policy issued by an insurance company that is authorized has mentioned a phone number that is answered in the permanent regime. Call the phone number written on the policy and follow all directions that will be addressed. Keep documents to pay them back in the country for this insurance company. In the event of traffic accidents that cause death of a citizen, local authorities proceed to prepare the necessary formalities, including the death certificate and notify the nearest consular offices (Dublin and London).
Customs Regulations: Icelandic customs regulations contain provisions similar to those of EU member countries. Quantitative limits for certain products: Cigarettes: 200 pieces, 1 liter of alcoholic beverages, perfumes 50 g. For full information on Icelandic customs procedure, visit the website of the Customs Service. Drug regime: Are excluded both on entry and exit of any type and drugs doping substances. Tourists can have on their usual medications for personal use only. Gasoline: In the Reykjavik area, petrol stations are generally open from 7:30 am to 8 pm, and some stations are open until 11 pm. Just outside the town schedule varies, but most are open until 10 pm. Entrance fees on the highway: There are no highway fees in Iceland. Parking: Parking with cameras are common in Reykjavik’s center, most with a limit of 2h. In the city there is also some parking garages for cars, but they are not very common elsewhere in Iceland.
Iceland is a large island located in the North Atlantic, called the Land of Fire and ice, because of intense volcanic activity which created an unusual landscape, glaciers in conjunction with being in volcanoes, geysers and hot springs. It is located about 830 km from Scotland and 4200 km from New York. Rift associated with the Mid-Atlantic ridge, which marks the boundary between tectonic plates of European and North American runs through Iceland from southwest to northeast. This geographical feature is very visible in Þingvellir National Park, where the promontory creates a great natural amphitheater. Almost half of the Island, which is of recent volcanic, consists of a mountainous lava desert (with a maximum altitude of 2119 m above sea level), and other wild areas.
11% of the territory is covered by three large glaciers: Vatnajökull (8300 km²); Langjökull (953 km²); Hofsjökull (925 km²) and several smaller: Mýrdalsjökull, 695 km², Drangajökull, 199 km², Eyjafjallajökull, 107 km², Snæfellsjökull. 20% of the land is used for grazing, and only 1% is cultivated. An ambitious reforestation program is underway. It is assumed that, before populating the island in 900 years, forests covered about 30-40% of the island. Nowadays, the only areas of birch forests are Hallormstaðarskógur and Vaglaskógur. Coastal areas are inhabited mainly in South-West, while the central highlands are completely uninhabited.
Due to the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream the climate is characterized by wet, cool summers and relatively mild but windy winters. In Reykjavík, the average temperature is 11 ° C in July and -1 ° C in January (Koppen: CFC). Comparative surface: Almost half the size as Great Britain, slightly smaller than Kentucky, slightly larger than Hokkaido. Land boundaries: 0 km. Coast: 4988 km. Maritime Territory: continental plate: 370 km (200 miles) or until the edge; Exclusive Economic Zone: 370 km (200 miles); Territorial sea: 22 km (12 miles). Natural Resources: Fish, hydropower potential, geothermal potential.
Land use: Arable land: 0.07%, permanent crops: 0%, Permanent pastures: 23%, Forests: 1%, Other: 76% (1993 estimate). Natural hazards: Earthquakes and volcanic activity, avalanches. Current Environmental Issues: Water pollution due to chemical fertilizers in agriculture, inadequate wastewater treatment. International environmental treaties: Signatory: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species in danger, hazardous waste, the Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution (MARPOL 73/78), fens, whale fisheries. Signed but not ratified: Air Pollution – Persistent Organic Pollutants, Environmental Modification, and Marine Life Conservation.
Iceland is a policy enforced by a parliamentary system of representative democracy, a republic practicing multiple parties, with power divided (as in most modern republics) into three entities, the executive, legislative and judicial power. Executive power is exercised by a Prime Minister who is leader of the government in a multi-party political system. Legislative power is exercised primarily by the Icelandic parliament, Althing, that in part by the government. While the legislature is partially divided in the island republic, judicial power is totally independent from the executive and legislative.
Executive power: president, prime minister and government. Executive power is shared between the President of Iceland, which is a more representative and leader, in a sense, ceremonial (except as provided by the constitution of the country) and Prime Minister of Iceland, which is – together with the government – effectively a day to day job. Iceland’s President, elected for a period of four years, is head of state but has limited powers, being a person who carries a greater representation than the country, working mainly as a diplomat and obviously as the head of state. Effective leadership is exercised by the Government of Iceland, which is led by a prime minister, who is usually the leader of the party that wins elections.
From 15th June 2006, the country’s new Prime Minister Geir Haarde is due to the resignation of former chief executive, Halldór Ásgrímsson, on 5 June 2006. Government official appointed by the president after general elections for the parliament Althing, but in fact, is constituted by the political parties holding a majority in Alhing. By their leaders, in proportion to seats held (Athing has 63 seats), a decision is in agreement on the future composition of the government of Prime Minister whose future will be the leader of the majority political party or coalition alliance. Then, using the exact configuration of the proposed government political parties winning the elections, the president appoints the government.
Unless party leaders are unable to reach a conclusion acceptable and accepted in a reasonable period of time, the President has the right and power under the Constitution of Iceland, to name a single government. This never happened, when Iceland became an independent republic in 1944, but there is some kind of precedent. In 1942, the country’s regent, Sveinn Björnsson, who was installed in that position by the Althing in 1941, following the declaration of independence of Iceland, has appointed a non-parliamentary government. The regent had, for obvious practical and pragmatic reasons, the powers of a president. Moreover, Sveinn Björnsson became the first president of Iceland in 1944.
The governments of Iceland have always been Republican coalition of two or more parties, since none of the Icelandic political parties had the majority in parliament after 1944. The current government is based, obviously on an alliance. Recent political trends: Following the 1994 elections to local councils, government coalition partners, the conservative party, the Independence Party (IP) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD) had lost the support of voters across the country including the capital Reykjavik, which was the traditional “bastion” Party Independence.
Since April 1995, after parliamentary elections, which has lost four seats in the Althing all the 63, coalition PI – PSD remained the parliament’s control, but with a simple majority. After this election, Independence Party leader and Prime Minister, David Oddsson, has decided to form a parliamentary coalition with the Progressive Party, thus ensuring a more stable and stronger majority of 40 seats, unless they had a political alliance with PI. Because of divergent views and trends within the party on Iceland’s economy and its possible role in the European Union (EU), the PSD has suffered and that was the only party that has claimed Iceland’s accession to the EU.
Legislative power: Iceland’s legislative power is exercised by a unicameral parliament, called the Althing, or Althing, which although not officially worked between 1799 and 1844, can be considered the oldest functioning parliament in the world, founded in 930. Between 1799 and 1844, when Iceland was, together with Norway, part of the Danish kingdom, Althing was formally dissolved and its function was transferred by royal Danish Supreme Court of Iceland. After 1844, the Althing was officially reinstated. In fact, it was always functional, as prominent members of various communities have continued to meet regularly uninterrupted.
Judicial power: Legal power is the Supreme Court of Iceland (in Icelandic, Hæstiréttur) and the system of district courts. Hæstiréttur nine members are elected for life, as proposed by the president and approved by parliament. Iceland’s Constitution explicitly provides that the judicial branch of state leadership to be totally independent from the executive and the legislative. Administrative divisions: Iceland is divided into 23 districts (sýslur, singular sýsla) and 14 independent towns (kaupstaðir, singular kaupstaður). Participation in various international organizations: Australia Group, BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EFTA, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA (observer), IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NATO, NC, NEA, NIB, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNU, UPU, WCO, WEU (associate member), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO.
Economy, Industry: The main industries are: fishing (world No. 1 on the quantity of fish caught / held.) and fish processing, metallurgy (for non-ferrous), energy industry (based on natural resources: hydropower, geothermal power). Products: ships, cement, canned whale oil, garments, electrical equipment, fertilizer and food products. Almost 20% of the workforce is employed in fisheries or fish processing. Fishing boats use large nets to fish for fish from the ocean floor. Motor boats, smaller, long lines are often used for fishing. Some have long-grain up to 16 km, with 20,000 hooks. The main species of fish are cod and herring.
Iceland’s most important industry is the processing of fish. Small processing plants are located along the coast, and in Reykjavik and large refrigerators Siglufjörður. Most fish is dried, salted or frozen for export. Some fresh fish is placed on ice and sent to the United Kingdom and Germany. Other industries produce cement, clothing, electrical equipment, fertilizer and food products. Almost one third of industrial workers are women. Icelandic government develops its industry with other countries. In 1968, an American company built a factory of diatomite (a mineral used in industrial filters). An aluminum plant built by the Swedes went into production in early 1970. Iceland has a thriving business in the publishing field. Iceland has four newspapers: the biggest, Morgunbladid, was founded in 1913.
Agriculture: Main Industries: livestock (meat and milk), vegetable growing in greenhouses and hunting. Approximately 15% of the population is farmers. Iceland has about 5,300 farms scattered throughout the lowland regions. Most farmers raise sheep (for wool, meat and skins) and cattle (dairy products). Also increase the small Icelandic horses. The main crop is hay, which farmers use to feed the animals. Farmers can raise two or three crops of hay, due to heavy rainfall and long summer days. Farmers grow root, as okra and potatoes. Since 1930, farmers have built greenhouses near hot springs. Thermal waters heated greenhouses, and so farmers can grow tomatoes and other vegetables, flowers, vines and even bananas.
Trade: Exports of fish and fish products, meat, dairy products, hides, wool, aluminum. Import equipment and industrial machinery, fuels, foodstuffs. Foreign trade is made with Great Britain, France, Germany, USA, Denmark, Holland, Japan and others. Iceland has few natural resources, and only 1% of its land can be cultivated. But territorial waters are rich in fish. Iceland depends heavily on sales of fish and fish products to import appliances, fruit and vegetables, industrial equipment and raw materials. Its trading partners are: Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America. Iceland became a member of EFTA (European Free Trade Association) in 1970.
Transport and communications: Railways: In Iceland there is no railway. There circulate more buses, cars and airplanes. Road: In Iceland there are 12,500 km of roads and, on average, one car to two people. Apart from the main streets of towns, roads are covered with gravel. Automotive traffic is carried on the right side of the road. The general condition of roads and infrastructure is very good. Permissible speed limits: 50 km / h inside towns and 90 km / h outside towns. Air transport: Icelandair, the national airline, provides regular European and transatlantic flights. There are two international airports in Reykjavik and Keflavik.
Shipping: The main ports in Iceland are: Akranes, Akureyri, Hafnarfjordur, Keflavik, Reykjavik, Siglufjörður. Communications: Most households in Iceland have a telephone, a TV and at least one radio. Iceland communications with the world is done by cable and radio telegraph. Tourism: Tourism is an important part of the Icelandic economy, generating about one third of GDP. Most tourists come from Britain and Germany and the Scandinavian countries and the U.S. Tourists are attracted by the natural attractions of Iceland (glaciers, geysers, geothermal), but also activities that are available to tourists: theme parties, trips to glaciers assisted or wilderness areas within the country, as well as various festivals, such as white nights days (in July), when the sun does not set at all, arctic nights or days when the sun never rises at all (in February). Through a very well established idea, Iceland attracts many tourists every year two times higher than its population.
Demographics: The rate of urban population: 92%, Average life expectancy: 81 years, Birth rate: 15.3 ‰ (2000). Culture: Music: Although Iceland is a country magnitude, has produced few artists of international renown, best known as Björk and Sigur Ros. On the UNESCO World Heritage List is included: National Park of Thingvellir (2004). The first inhabitants of Iceland were Irish monks, who left the island in the ninth century, when pagan Norse arrived. The 930 has made a constitution to create a form of democracy and provides an Althing, the oldest legislative assembly in the world that works today. The history of the island has been preserved in Iceland in the thirteenth century stories.
In 1262-1264 Iceland came under Norwegian leadership, then under that of Denmark, the unification of Norway, Sweden and Denmark in 1397. In 1974 Iceland has developed its own constitution, and in 1918 its independence was recognized by Denmark. However, Iceland was formally headed by the monarchy of Denmark. While Denmark was occupied by Germany during the Second World War, Iceland was occupied in turn by British and American troops and used as the basis of strategic aviation. In 1944, after a referendum, the Althing of Iceland proclaimed the independent republic. Iceland was colonized in IX and X centuries by Scandinavians, Celts, Irish and Scottish.11