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Thingvellir National Park, or Þingvellir in Icelandic, is one of the four national parks in Iceland and is located about 50 kilometres from the capital Reykjavik, reachable by good tarred roads. Because of its cultural and natural importance it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Since 930 it has been of importance to almost all historical events in Iceland and also its geological history is a major draw for most visitors. Fault lines are easily visible in this interesting and beautiful national park.
The site became Iceland's parliament around 930 AD after the owner of the land was found guilty of killing one of his slaves. The government claimed the land as punishment. The land has a huge fissure running through it known as the Alamannagja. This is due to the site being in the centre of continental tectonic drift plates. The huge fissure in the earth's crust is constantly expanding and the fissure increases at a rate of 3 inches per year, the same rate as your toe nail growth. The land has been shaped by man also. There are two waterfalls at the site. One is a beautiful, powerful falls called Oxararfoss, this falls from the river Oxar into the Almannagja. The other is thought to be a man made waterfall and runs out of the Almannagja and into the plains. There is some dispute over which waterfall was man made some 1,000 years ago. The reason for making the waterfall was to deliver fresh water to the low parts of the plains so that the horses could feed. Oxararfoss is too beautiful to be man made!
There is a huge lake near Thingvellir called Thingvallirvatn. This is now the largest lake in Iceland. The honour used to belong to Lake Myvatn in the north, but recent volcanic activity reduced the size of the lake. The second reason is the extent of the damming for hydroelectric purposes. There are two hydroelectric plants on Thingvallirvatn and they have both significantly increased the size of the lake. Much of the plains available during the parliamentary days are now a few meters under water.
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