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Iceland Government Profile 2017

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Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Iceland
conventional short form: Iceland
local long form: Lydveldid Island
local short form: Island
etymology: Floki VILGERDARSON, an early explorer of the island (9th century), applied the name "Land of Ice" after spotting a fjord full of drift ice to the north and spending a bitter winter on the island; he eventually settled on the island, however, after he saw how it greened up in the summer and that it was, in fact, habitable
Government typeparliamentary republic
Capitalname: Reykjavik
geographic coordinates: 64 09 N, 21 57 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions8 regions; Austurland, Hofudhborgarsvaedhi, Nordhurland Eystra, Nordhurland Vestra, Sudhurland, Sudhurnes, Vestfirdhir, Vesturland
Independence1 December 1918 (became a sovereign state under the Danish Crown); 17 June 1944 (from Denmark; birthday of Jon SIGURDSSON, leader of Iceland's 19th Century independence movement)
National holidayIndependence Day, 17 June (1944)
Constitutionhistory: several previous; latest ratified 16 June 1944, effective 17 June 1944 (at independence)
amendments: proposed by the Althingi; passage requires approval by the Althingi and by the next elected Althingi, and confirmation by the president of the republic; proposed amendments to Article 62 of the constitution – that the Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the state church of Iceland – also require passage by referendum; amended many times, last in 2013 (2016)
Legal systemcivil law system influenced by the Danish model
International law organization participationhas not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Citizenshipcitizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Iceland
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 3 to 7 years
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Gudni Thorlacius JOHANNESSON (since 1 August 2016)
head of government: Prime Minister Bjarni BENEDIKTSSON (since 11 January 2017)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 4-year term (no term limits); election last held on 25 June 2016 (next to be held in June 2020); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition becomes prime minister
election results: Gudni Thorlacius JOHANNESSON elected president; percent of vote - Gudni Thorlacius JOHANNESSON (IP) 39.1%, Halla TOMASDOTTIR (independent) 27.9%, Andri Snaer MAGNASON (independent) 14.3%, David ODDSSON (IP) 13.7%, Sturla JONSSON (Sturla JONSSON Party) 3.5%, invalid 1.5%
Legislative branchdescription: unicameral Althingi or Parliament (63 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 29 October 2016 (next to be held in 2020)
election results: percent of vote by party - IP 29%, LGM 15.9%, Pirate Party 14.5%, PP 11.5%, Reform 10.5%, BF 7.2%, SDA 5.7%, other 2.3%; seats by party - IP 21, LGM 10, Pirate Party 10, PP 8, Reform 7, BF 4, SDA 3
Judicial branchhighest court(s): Supreme Court or Haestirettur (consists of 9 judges)
judge selection and term of office: judges proposed by Ministry of Interior selection committee and appointed by the president; judges appointed for an indefinite period
subordinate courts: 8 district courts; Labor Court
Political parties and leadersBright Future (Bjort framtid) or BF [Ottarr PROPPE]
Independence Party (Sjalfstaedisflokkurinn) or IP [Bjarni BENEDIKTSSON]
Left-Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin-graent frambod) or LGM [Katrin JAKOBSDOTTIR]
Pirate Party (Piratar) or PIP [Birgitta JONSDOTTIR]
Progressive Party (Framsoknarflokkurinn) or PP [Sigurdur Ingi JOHANNSSON]
Reform (Vidreisn) or R [Benedict JOHANNSSON]
Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin) or SDA [Logi Mar EINARSSON]
International organization participationArctic Council, Australia Group, BIS, CBSS, CD, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EFTA, FAO, FATF, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NATO, NC, NEA, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the USchief of mission: Ambassador Geir Hilmar HAARDE (since 23 February 2015)
telephone: [1] (202) 265-6653
FAX: [1] (202) 265-6656
consulate(s) general: New York
chancery: House of Sweden, 2900 K Street NW
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Jill ESPOSITO (since 20 January 2017)
embassy: Laufasvegur 21, 101 Reykjavik
mailing address: US Department of State, 5640 Reykjavik Place, Washington, D.C. 20521-5640
telephone: [354] 595-22-00
FAX: [354] 562-9118
Flag descriptionblue with a red cross outlined in white extending to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag); the colors represent three of the elements that make up the island: red is for the island's volcanic fires, white recalls the snow and ice fields of the island, and blue is for the surrounding ocean
National symbol(s)gyrfalcon; national colors: blue, white, red
National anthemname: "Lofsongur" (Song of Praise)
lyrics/music: Matthias JOCHUMSSON/Sveinbjorn SVEINBJORNSSON
note: adopted 1944; also known as "O, Gud vors lands" (O, God of Our Land), the anthem was originally written and performed in 1874

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on July 9, 2017