Iceland Government and Politics

Since independence from Denmark in 1944, Iceland has been a parliamentary-democratic and unified state republic.

The head of state, presided over by Íslands, is a president-elect for four years. The president has primarily titular functions, but often plays an important political role by highlighting specific issues or by representing the country. This was especially true of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Iceland and the world’s first elected female head of state (1980-1996).

Iceland Country Flag

Legislative power is added to the Althing (Alþingi). It has 63 members who are elected in the general election for four years. Members are chosen from six circles according to the ratio principle. Until 1991, the Althing two divisions (Efri and neðri deild), which functioned much like the Norwegian Storting Odelsting and Lagting. When deciding on a constitutional amendment, the parliament must be dissolved and new elections must be held. For the constitutional amendment to be valid, the new everything has to adopt the amendment again, without any changes to the text. Everything can be dissolved by the President before the term ends. The government is based on and is responsible to the Allting.

The Alliance was first established in 930, during the original political and cultural heyday of Iceland, and has worked almost continuously since (except the time of 1801-1843), despite the colonial rule and the decline of the 13th century. Everything is the oldest continuously functioning parliament in the world.

Political parties

The party system differs somewhat from the other Nordic countries. The usually largest party is the Center/ Right-Oriented Independence Party, formed in 1929. The (largely) second largest party is the Center -oriented Progress Party, formed in 1916. The left side previously comprised two parties, the Social Democrats (formed in 1916) and the Left Socialist People’s Alliance (formed in 1956); these parties merged in 1999 to Samfylkingin.

In the 2000s, the Icelandic party system has been unstable. Several parties have emerged, and the political situation has been unclear. Several political scandals and the aftermath of the financial crisis have given rise to several populist parties and new electoral alliances. Icelandic politics is a coalition, and the parties are looser and more personal than in the Nordic countries.

Administrative division

The board of Iceland is fairly centralized. Locally, there are a total of 79 municipalities (municipalities, formerly divided into rural municipalities, municipalities, and urban municipalities, commercial towns), which are led by elected councils. The municipalities are part of 23 pursuits, led by a government-appointed governor, who in turn has one or two councils.


During the colonial period (from the 13th century), Norwegian and Danish law gradually suppressed Magnus Lagabøte’s Icelandic law. A separate new Icelandic law allowed the Alltinget to develop again only from 1874. However, the new Icelandic law was developed according to the Nordic, especially Danish, pattern. With the exception of certain cases, including maritime law and labor law, all cases come before the ordinary courts. The latter include the courts in the countryside and in the cities, and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court consists of a chairman and a further eight judges. The chairman is elected by and among the judges for two years.


Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital and largest city; 118,800 (2012) in the city itself, 199,800 in the metropolitan region, corresponding to 63% of Iceland’s total population. The city continues to grow. Reykjavík is located on a nose in the bay of Faxaflói, but from the center of Kvosin the settlement has spread, especially to the east towards higher lying areas. In the city you are always close to the sea, and the environment is characterized by this and the view of the islands in Faxaflói, which together with mountains and mountain ridges form a horizon with beautiful landscapes. Most well-known are Esja and other nearby mountains north of the city and not least the Snæfellsnes peninsula with the magnificent glacier Snæfellsjökull 110 km towards NV. For most people, the view of the sea and mountain peaks is important for the choice of residence.

The open sea location is characterized by a sub-polar and very windy climate. Average temperatures for January and July are respectively. −0.5 and 10.6 °C. The city has a long coastline, but due to the low sea temperatures, swimming and swimming are referred to the numerous outdoor pools with hot spring water. The hot springs in Laugardalur were utilized as early as the 1800’s. by the housewives of the city, who carried the family’s wash the long distance. Early in 1900-t. investigations were initiated with regard to. to supply hot water to the individual houses in the city, and today the entire city and several neighboring municipalities from Reykjavik’s rich hot springs are supplied. The largest resources are found in Nesjavellir near Þingvallavatn. Laugardalur with its old washbasins is now inside the city itself and is a connected leisure area with amusement park, botanical garden, zoo and sports facilities.

Reykjavík is a modern city with great cultural offerings; the city is also the center for education and research as well as for the country’s health care system. The building is spread over a large area with the resultant large traffic. Compared to its northern location, Reykjavík is a green city with tree and shrub plantings in residential neighborhoods and parks. The Ellidaár River runs through the eastern part of the city with surrounding recreational areas; The river is a well-known salmon river, and here the city’s first hydroelectric power plant was built in 1921.

The British occupation in 1940 was of great importance for the development of the city (see Iceland (history)). Among other things. the construction of the airfield led to many getting employment after the 1930’s depression. The airfield is now centrally located in the city and remains a domestic airport. International flights use Keflavík 50 km towards SV. During the occupation a large number of barracks were erected, which were used by the growing population after the war; they marked the city and contributed to a social divide in society. It was not until the 1960’s that housing construction started and the barracks were demolished.

Although new residential areas are being built on the outskirts of the city, there is evidence of some densification of the city; new residential areas are planned including on part of the port area. In addition, moving the domestic airport out of the city is under consideration to make room for housing, educational institutions and businesses. Many tourists visit Reykjavík, even outside the peak summer months. The tourists are attracted by Reykjavik’s position as a modern metropolis in miniature, which is at the same time close to the magnificent scenery and with cultural ties back to the saga era.

Architecture and museums

In the older part of town, among other things. The cathedral (consecrated in 1796, rebuilt in the 1800’s), the Latin School (1845, designed by JH Koch) and Ferdinand Meldahls Altingshus (1881). Newer buildings include the National Theater (1928-50) and Hallgrímskirken (1945-86), both designed by architect Guðjón Samúelsson (1887-1950), as well as the Nordic House (1968) by Alvar Aalto, City Hall (1992) by Studio Granda and the Perlan View Building; In front of Hallgrímskirken stands the statue of Leif the Happy, executed in 1930 by the American sculptor AS Calder (1870-1945).

Among Reykjavik’s many museums is the National Museum of Iceland, the Icelandic Museum of Art (Listasafn Íslands, grdl. 1884), housed in a former ice house, which contains both Icelandic and foreign art from 1800-1900-t.); furthermore, museums for the visual artists Ásmundur Sveinsson, Ásgrímur Jónsson and Einar Jónsson, Jóhannes Kjarval and Sigurjón Ólafsson. The Icelandic manuscripts are exhibited in Kulturhuset (þjoðmenningarhusið), the former national library.

A large concert hall and convention center, Harpa, on the eastern waterfront, has been designed by Henning Larsen in collaboration with visual artist Olafur Elíasson; it was completed in 2011.


According to Landnámabók, Iceland’s first settler, Ingólfr Arnarson, settled in Reykjavík late in the 800-h. For centuries, Reykjavík was merely a large farm, though eventually surrounded by small farms cut out from the main courtyard. Only in the late 1700-t. a village arose on the site, not least because the Danish king supported the creation of small clothing industries and in 1786 gave the place the status of a privileged market town. Even in the early 1800’s. Reykjavík had only 300 residents, but in the following decades the Danish government made it the administrative center of Iceland with the resultant settlement of officials, which throughout the rest of the 1800’s. led to an ever-growing monetary economy and economic growth in commerce and fisheries.

During the 1900-t. Iceland has developed into a modern European state with a wide range of private and public services including schools and colleges, financial institutions, news outlets and hospitals. The majority of this business is concentrated in Reykjavík, which has at the same time remained an important fishing and industrial city. The tourist visit is on the rise.

The population has grown explosively, from just 7,000 residents in 1901 to more than 111,000 in 2001. In addition, Iceland’s cities of Kopavogur and Hafnarfjörður have become suburbs of Reykjavík.

Iceland Head of Government

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