From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Iceland i (Icelandic: Ísland, IPA: [ˈislant]) is a Nordic European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The country has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with the surrounding areas in the southwestern region of the country being home to two-thirds of the country's population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior mainly consists of a plateau characterised by sand fields, mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle.
The country is sometimes erroneously called The Republic of Iceland and sometimes its counterpart Lýðveldið Ísland in Icelandic, but the official name is rather like the official name of Canada - simply the country name. One example of the former is the name of the Constitution of Iceland, which in Icelandic is Stjórnarskrá lýðveldisins Íslands and literally means "the Constitution of the republic of Iceland", but note that "republic" is not capitalized. The official title of the President of Iceland (Forseti Íslands) does also not include the word republic as in some other republics. See also Names for Iceland. Template:/box-footer
is the national parliament
: literally, the "all-thing
" of Iceland
. It was founded in 930
, (the "assembly fields" or "Parliament Plains"), situated some 45 km east of what would later become the country's capital
, and this event marked the beginning of the Icelandic Commonwealth
. Even after Iceland's union with Norway
, the Althing still held its sessions at Þingvellir until 1799
, when it was discontinued for some decades. It was restored in 1844
and moved to Reykjavík, where it has resided ever since. The present parliament building, the Alþingishús
, was built in 1881
, of hewn Icelandic stone.
The constitution of Iceland provides for six electoral constituencies with the possibility of an increase to seven. The constituency boundaries are fixed by legislation. Each constituency elects nine members. In addition, each party is allocated seats based on its proportion of the overall national vote in order that the number of members in parliament for each political party should be more or less proportional to its overall electoral support. A party must have won at least five percent of the national vote in order to be eligible for these proportionally distributed seats. Political participation in Iceland is very high: usually over 85 per cent of the electorate casts a ballot (87.7% in 2003). The current president of the Althing is Sólveig Pétursdóttir.
Jökulsárlón is the best known and the largest of Icelandic glacial lakes, located at the south end of the glacier Vatnajökull between Skaftafell National Park and Höfn. Appearing only in 1934 or 1935, the lake grew from 7.9 km² in 1975 to at least 18 km² today because of heavy melting of the Icelandic glaciers. Approaching a depth of 200 m, Jökulsárlón is now probably the second deepest lake in Iceland.