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.
The Althing is the national parliament: literally, the "all-thing" of Iceland. It was founded in 930 at Þingvellir, (the "assembly fields" or "Parliament Plains"), situated some 45 km east of what would later become the country's capital, Reykjavík, 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 glacierVatnajökull 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.
Jón Sigurðsson (June 17, 1811 – December 7, 1879) was the leader of the 19th century Icelandic independence movement. He is often referred to as President (Jón forseti) by Icelanders. The main reason for this is that since 1851 he served as President of the Copenhagen Department of Hið íslenska bókmenntafélag (the Icelandic Literature Society). He was also the president of Althing several times, for the first time in 1849. He is currently pictured on Iceland's 500 krónur bill, and has been honoured on Icelandic postage stamps on the centenaries of his birth and death, the 150th anniversary of his birth, and on the creation of the Republic of Iceland (on his 133rd birthday).
When we stop caring for our independence and are swept into some superpower’s ocean of nationhood, when the last old women who can recite an Icelandic verse is dead, then the world has become poorer. And the superpower who might have swallowed us would not be any the richer for it.