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Fjords along the coastline, glaciated highlands, and volcanoes are found on the Northwestern European island of Iceland. This country is located in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, situated between Greenland, Norway, the British Isles and the Faroe Islands. With the climate mild and windy in the winter, and damp and cool in the summer, it is perfect for the native Arctic fox.

Iceland is considered a modern Parliament, which is known as Alpingi. Located in the capital, Reykjavik, the President holds office. He is the figurehead and head of state, which serves also as a diplomat and is used largely for ceremonial functions. The Prime Minister is known as the head of state and oversees the executive branch of Iceland. The country chose not to enter the European Union, but is member to NATO, the UN, EEA, and OECD. Iceland, economically, is highly developed. Iceland\'s location and topography make it an excellent source of hydropower. Geysers, rivers, and waterfalls become source to the geothermal capabilities. Given the numerous volcanoes, the island has one of the youngest islands, Surtsey, in the world. It developed from volcanic eruptions over a five year span.

Icelandic culture has its roots in Viking and Norse traditions. Until the Christianization of Iceland, many traditional Viking beliefs held strong, remnants of which remain today. For example, some Icelanders either believe in elves or are unwilling to rule out their existence. The majority of national foods are based around fish, lamb and dairy products. Traditional dishes include skyr, cured ram scrota, cured shark, singed sheep heads and black pudding. The people of Iceland are famous for their prose and poetry; in particular the sagas and eddas. Other Icelandic traditional arts include weaving, silver crafting, and wood carving. Iceland\'s literacy rate is among the highest in the world, and their love of literature, art, chess, and other intellectual pursuits is widespread.

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Quick Facts

Population: 313,183
Capital: Reykjavik
Per-capita GDP: $ 38500
Size: 103,000 km2
Time Zone: (GMT) Dublin

US State Department

Travel Warning: YES
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Country information is adapted from public domain resources including the CIA World Fact Book and www.Wikipedia.org.
Please report errors or concerns to questions@abroadoffice.net.

Xavier University of Louisiana Center for Intercultural and International Programs