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(Icelandic: Ísland)

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 rule.

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.