World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
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Iceland Travelling Guide
Iceland Travelling Guide

General background: Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930. Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century, 20% of the island's population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the US. Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. Literacy, longevity, income, and social cohesion are first-rate by world standards.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Kentucky

Climate: Temperate; moderated by North Atlantic Current; mild, windy winters; damp, cool summers

Terrain: Mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields; coast deeply indented by bays and fiords.

Population: 279,384 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norse and Celts.

Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 93%, other Protestant and Roman Catholic, (1997)

Language: Icelandic

Government type: Constitutional republic

Capital: Reykjavik

Legal system: Civil law system based on Danish law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Economic overview: Iceland's Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic, yet with an extensive welfare system, low unemployment, and remarkably even distribution of income. In the absence of other natural resources (except for abundant hydrothermal and geothermal power), the economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, providing 70% of export earnings and employing 12% of the work force. The economy remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to drops in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. The center-right government plans to continue its policies of reducing the budget and current account deficits, limiting foreign borrowing, containing inflation, revising agricultural and fishing policies, diversifying the economy, and privatizing state-owned industries. The government remains opposed to EU membership, primarily because of Icelanders' concern about losing control over their fishing resources. Iceland's economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the last decade, and new developments in software production, biotechnology, and financial services are taking place. The tourism sector is also expanding, with the recent trends in ecotourism and whale watching. Growth has been remarkably steady over the past five years at 4%-5%.

Communication/Telephone system:
Adequate service

Places of interest: Iceland's popularity is due to its natural features, which include glaciers, hot springs, geysers, active volcanoes, portentous peaks and vast lava deserts. Apart from an expansive landscape, it also has a rich history, literature and folklore tradition.

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