National Geographic : 1964 Feb
KODACHROME(ABOVE) BY THOMASHOLLYMAN,PHOTORESEARCHERS, INC., AND HS EKTACHROMEBY VOLKMARWENTZEL Free institutions grow naturally in this volcanic soil. In the year 930, Norse chieftains assembled beside a dark cliff 35 miles from Reykjavik, and thus began the nation's par liamentary history. This venerable institution, the Althing, made Icelandic internal laws under the Danish crown. Iceland Independent Since 1944 When independence came in 1944, the Althing remained the Republic's lawmaking body. From its elected members come the Cabinet and Prime Minister, as named by the President. The Althing proves that free dom needs dedicated men far more than it needs a luxurious climate. "We are pleased with our neighborhood," said President Asgeir Asgeirsson in his ad dress that day. "The North Atlantic is our common ocean. Along its coasts live the old est... democratic nations. The North Atlantic is today the Mediterranean of democracy. Our country is located near its center, and we understand what it involves." Taking my leave of Iceland, I shook more friendly outstretched hands. The strong young men of these northern lands have firm, enthusiastic grips. After greeting hundreds of people each day, my well-practiced right hand had swelled painfully. I could truth fully tell the airport crowd, "We have felt the strength of our allies." As we returned home through the northern sky, we could also feel a great satisfaction. We had learned much. And this visit had given our friends a chance to express that friendship-in crowds far greater than we had expected, in public and private statements by government leaders, and in agreements that would im prove this world and our knowledge of the space beyond it. THE END 293 N.G.S.