An island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, situated south of the Arctic
Circle, between Greenland, and Norway.
Irish monks were the first people to arrive on the island in about 700 AD, but
the island traditionally takes her "Age of Settlement" to have been
between 874 and 930, when political strife on mainland
Scandinavia cause many Nordic people to flee westwards.
As befits a
country often called a "nation of books", the human history of Iceland has
been chronicled from the beginning in a series of Sagas, including the
Ísledingabók, and the Landnámabók. The early Icelanders
decided against the traditional Scandinavian-style Monarchy, and instead
founded the world's first democratic parliamentary system and parliament (or
Aling) at ingvellir in 930. In 1000 AD the inhabitants adopted
Christianity. In 1263 the peaceful country, after a series of violent feuds
and raids by private armies, submitted to the authority of the King of
Norway. In 1380 Norway, and with it, Iceland, came under Danish
Iceland remained attached to Denmark after Norway became
independent in 1814. Following a series of natural disasters, and a growing
sense of national identity, it independent in 1918, still recognising the
Danish Monarchy, however. During World War II Iceland
was occupied by both British and US forces, and voted in a referendum for
completed independence in 1944.
The country is a member of the UN, NATO
(since 1949), the Council of Europe (1949), and the Nordic Council (1953), and was declared a nuclear-free zone by the Aling in 1985.
Iceland is probably most famous for having had a woman President (Vigdís
Finnbogadóttir), for being a nation of books, and for progressive rock
talent, such as The Sugarcubes, Björk, and Sigur-Rós.