Iceland PM visits North Dakota town

sigmundur-david-littleIcelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson paid a short visit to the to the tiny town of Mountain, northeastern North Dakota, telling residents that he wants to build stronger ties between the North Atlantic nation and Icelanders living overseas.

The prime minister was the keynote speaker during Saturday’s 114th annual Deuce of August Icelandic Celebration in Mountain, where just 92 people live permanently. However, thousands of people flocked to the town to experience the event, which recognises the history and culture of Iceland.

Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson said he aims to get young Icelanders living around the world more interested in their country’s culture. He told the crowd that, most importantly, Iceland wants to enhance its ties with its friends and cousins in the US.

The Deuce of August festival, which organisers claim is North Dakota’s oldest ethnic festival, commemorates the date in 1874 when Iceland was granted a new constitution by Denmark to mark its independence. Each year, many Iceland officials travel to the event to recognise the region’s Icelandic roots.

The Mountain Community Center, which the government of Iceland partly funded the construction of in 2008, exceeded its maximum capacity of 248 on Saturday. Iceland’s Premier said the event, which also included street dances, a tractor pull and a parade, has been the best he has attended since taking up his position in May.

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