Iceland

By: Paola Ponce

Religion

Despite the existence of a state-sponsored church, religious freedom is fully guaranteed, and other Protestants , Roman Catholics (2.5 percent), and others have reunions in Iceland. About 3 percent of the population has no religious affiliation.


Language

The official language is Icelandic. Students are taught Danish from age 10 to 16 and English from age 11 to 16. Kids who continue school after 16 get more instruction in one or both languages. Nordic languages and German are also widely spoken.


The Arts

Iceland's rich cultural life includes the National Theatre, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and the Icelandic Ballet Company. These groups often perform works by Icelandic composers, playwrights, and choreographers. Government support of cinematic arts has encouraged their success as well.Annual festivals call attention to traditional arts such as weaving, woodcarving, and silversmithing. Poetry, fiction, and play writing are very popular.


Economic Activities

The country's most abundant natural resource is fish, and fishing is the most important export industry, accounting for about 40 percent of all export earnings. Even manufacturing efforts tend to focus on the fishing industry; Iceland exports machinery used in fish processing. About 7 percent of the workforce is employed in fishing or fish processing.


Political Systems





Iceland is a constitutional republic that is divided into 23 counties and 14 independent towns. A president is head of state and serves a four-year term, although there is no term limit. The prime minister, who is usually the leader of the majority party or coalition, leads the government. Iceland's legislative body, called the Althingi, is one of the world's oldest parliaments.



Ethnicity

Roughly 200,000 people reside in Iceland's capital of Reykjavík. Kópavogur (30,000) and Hafnarfjörður (26,000) are the next largest towns. The central part of the country is uninhabited; most Icelanders live along the coast.


Customs and Traditions

Pregnancies are celebrated with much joy, maybe because Iceland's small population and Icelanders' many close family connections. Shortly after birth, there is a baptism or name-giving ceremony followed by a baby shower, when relatives and friends of the parents bring gifts for the baby.