Iceland Country Information
Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice due to its cold climates combined with its hot, geothermal energy from volcanic activity. It is located near the arctic circle and is Europe’s second largest island. It measures 103,000 square kilometers (40,000 square miles), yet is largely uninhabited. The majority of the population live in the country’s capital, Reykjavík. It is in the WET (UTC) time zone. The currency used is called króna (plural: krónur) and has banknotes from 500 to 10,000 krónur and coins from 1 to 100 krónur.
An estimated 332,529 people live in Iceland, with over 61% of them living in Reykjavík. The country’s official language is Icelandic, which has been a carefully preserved language from their ancestors. Many Icelanders also speak fluent English. As of 2016, over 92% of Iceland’s inhabitants are Icelandic, less than 4% are Polish, and about 4% are listed under “other” for their ethnic group. The country practices freedom of religion, but it’s state church is the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
As of August 1, 2016, Iceland’s President is Gudni Johannesson, who secured 39.1% of the popular vote. As of January 2017, Iceland’s Prime Minister is Bjarni Benediktsson, who won 21 of the 63 votes in Parliament.
The national parliament of Iceland, Althing, is the world’s oldest parliament. It was founded in the year 930 at Pingvellir and continued to hold sessions until 1800. After a brief discontinuation, Althing was restored in 1844 and moved to Reykjavík. Icelanders vote for their 63 members of the 12 standing committees. There are six constituency boundaries and the legal voting age is 20 years.
The President is considered Iceland’s Head of State, while the Prime Minister is considered Iceland’s head of government. The legislative, executive, and judicial branches all operate under the Prime Minister. Parliament and Standing Committees make up the legislative branch, the Cabinet, Ministries, and Agencies make up the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court and District Courts make up the Judicial Branch.
The Constitution of Iceland was written in 1944 and includes seven sections and 80 articles. It focuses on Icelanders’ leadership and human rights.
Section I states that the Althing and Iceland’s President will have joint legislative power, while judges will have judicial power. It also states the country is a Republic with a parliamentary government.
Section II states the President’s rights as well as where the Presidential Seat is and information regarding Althing meetings.
Section III dives further into Althing, defining term limits and who may be elected.
Section IV contains articles containing information regarding the activity of Parliament, approvals of bills, and parliamentary procedural rules.
Section V describes the information of the regulations surrounding Iceland’s judiciary procedures.
Section VI states that the country has established freedom of religion and that the state church is the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Section VII contains all of Icelanders’ human rights, ranging from information regarding torture, labor, healthcare, education, and freedom of speech