Earthquakes are frequent in Iceland but rarely result in serious damage. On June 17, 1944, the Republic of Iceland was formally declared at Thing-vellir. The National Theater of Iceland celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in the year 2000. Iceland, one of the world's first independent, democratic nations, is the second largest island in Europe (39,769 square miles). Use this timeline to learn more about the history of Iceland. The middle west is divided between fishing and farming and has many places of great natural beauty. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Most of the buildings erected since the mid-20th century have been built of reinforced concrete and designed to withstand severe shocks from earthquakes. A strong movement for linguistic purism gained strength in the nineteenth century and has persisted unabated. The principal employers are fishing, industry, agriculture, and health services. Traditionally, Iceland has been divided according to the four points of the compass. Iceland is one of the best places to experience the Northern Lights. Icelandic nightlife is famous for its vibrancy, with night clubs, cafes, and cinemas in all major towns. Eyjafjallajökull volcano, beneath an extension of Mýrdalsjökull (Mýrdals Glacier), erupted in March 2010 for the first time since 1821. The infamous Sturlung Age, which followed the era of peace, was marked by political treachery and violence. The health-care system receives 40.5 percent of the national budget and the nation operates one of the most expensive health-care systems in the world. After the occupation of Denmark and Iceland's declaration of sovereignty, the island's vulnerability was responded to by British and U.S. troops. 1. Aurora borealis over the Snaefellsnes peninsula, western Iceland, March 2013. Today, Icelanders stand at the precipice of a new, exciting and divisive chapter in their young country’s history. There are, however, traces of Celtic influence in the literature and in the names of people and places. A new volcano erupting on the bottom of the sea between November 1963 and June 1967 created the island of Surtsey, off the southwestern coast. It erupted again beginning on April 14 and sent wandering ash plumes into the skies that disrupted air traffic for days across northern and central Europe. Continuous eruptions took place in the Krafla area in the northeast in 1975–84, damaging a geothermal generating project in the area. It lies about 4,200 kilometers (2,600 mi.) Although Irish monks were the first people to inhabit Iceland in the eighth century, it was not until the period extending from 870 to 930 A.D. that Iceland was systematically settled by both Norsemen from Scandanavia and Celts from the British Isles. These fact-based works, which provided the early settlers with a source of entertainment as well as cultural heritage, represent some of the classics of world medieval literature and continue to be widely read and treasured by Icelanders. The area covered by Vatnajökull (Vatna Glacier), the country’s largest, is equal to the combined total area covered by all the glaciers on the continent of Europe. Iceland has more hot springs and solfataras—volcanic vents that emit hot gases and vapours—than any other country. Identify the one with the larger population. from Scotland. The first woman was elected to the Althing in … This practice of family members frequently teaching children to read continues in present day Iceland. - Wallpaper Abyss The basalt sheets tend to tilt somewhat toward the centre of the country. This quiz will show you two countries. Unemployment is nearly non-existent in contemporary Iceland. Iceland’s rugged coastline, of more than 3,000 miles (4,800 km), meets the Greenland Sea on the north, the Norwegian Sea on the east, the Atlantic Ocean on the south and west, and the Denmark Strait—which separates it from Greenland by about 200 miles (320 km)—on the northwest. Casual conversations over a meal frequently involve discussions about work. Settled by Norsemen from Scandinavia and Celts from the British isles settled in the 9 th and 10 th centuries, Icelandic history has always been shaped by events on the larger politicla stage of the Nordic Countries. Soil and climatic conditions are favourable, and it is close to the country’s largest market, Reykjavík and its environs. A governmental agency, the Icelandic Language Committee, was established in 1965 and officiates over all language issues. In 1915 Icelandic women were allowed to vote. With millions of visitors discovering Iceland each year, an ongoing flow of immigration, and the urban development that goes with both trends, the Iceland of yesteryear is … Iceland, one of the world's first independent, democratic nations, is the second largest island in Europe (39,769 square miles). Iceland is largely a classless society composed of the descendents of farmers and warriors who fled the tyranny of Scandinavia many centuries ago. see more. Located west of Scandinavia and just south of the Arctic Circle, the first confirmed settlement of Iceland was in the 9th and 10th centuries by Norsemen from Scandinavia and Scotland. The strength of the people, mirrored by the powerful landscape, is evident in the thriving independent culture. The eastern fjords resemble the western fjords but have, in addition, an inner lowland. Iceland is largely a tableland broken up by structural faults. Icelandic, the national language, has changed very little from the original tongue of the Norse settlers. Nearly every district has its own museum reflecting the local cultural history, while magnificent galleries and museums grace the capitol. Denmark's hold on Iceland was significantly reduced in 1874 when a constitution was drafted granting Iceland permission to handle domestic affairs. Hekla brought physical destruction, widespread epidemics, and death. The book of settlements ( Landnámabók ), which contains information on four hundred settlers, was compiled in the twelfth century. The southeast, locked between the glaciers and the sea, has a landscape of rugged splendour. Glacier ice and cooled lava each cover approximately one-tenth of the country’s total area. Northern Lights Activity. Background: Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930.Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. The glaciers range in size from those in small mountain recesses to the enormous glacial caps topping extensive mountain ranges. It is estimated that since the year 1500 about one-third of the Earth’s total lava flow has poured out of the volcanoes of Iceland. Many of the early settlers of Iceland were small lords and kings from Norway who were fleeing the tyrrany of Harald the Fairhaired who wanted to unify Norway under one king, namely himself. Iceland. Then in 1918 Iceland was made a sovereign state sharing a monarchy with Denmark. The volcanoes, reaching deep into the unstable interior of the Earth, are explained by the fact that Iceland is located on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Approximately 82 percent of Icelanders between the ages of 17 and 75 have access to the Internet at home, school, or work. It lies just below the Arctic Circle between 64 and 66 degrees north. The capital, Reykjavík (“Bay of Smokes”), is the site of the island’s first farmstead and is a thriving city, handsome in aspect and cosmopolitan in outlook. The main island, which lies south of the Arctic Circle, covers an area of 103,000 km, which is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Virginia or slightly bigger than Ireland. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. During this time, the eruption of Mt. The north is divided into several smaller districts, each of which has relatively good farmland. The result of this drilling was very promising and proved among other things, that this was a ‘high temper… Quiz. Unlike most European countries, however, it is ethnically homogeneous, so much so that genetic researchers have used its inhabitants to study hereditary disorders and develop cures for a host of diseases. The population rose (despite emigration to Canada) and in 1911 Reykjavik University was founded. Because of its extensive lava fields and heaths, the southwest has little farmland. from New York and 830 kilometers (520 mi.) A Short History of Iceland. Terms of Use, Iceland - Constitutional Legal Foundations, Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.com, Iceland - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education. Iceland was settled in 874 AD. Iceland is a land overflowing with water: … Over the course of the twentieth century, Iceland, which is situated on major shipping and air lanes of the North Atlantic Ocean, has effectively transformed itself from a subsistence economy to an exchange economy. Iceland's present day parliament, Althing, is the oldest existing national assembly in the world. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the official state church, but freedom of religion exists for all other congregations. Silfra in Þingvellir National Park. There were eruptions in the Vatnajökull area in 1983 and 1996. The country is situated on a strategic location between North America and Europe, about 840 km north west of the United Kingdom and about 460 km south east of Greenland 's coast. The centre of the country is uninhabited. Lying on the constantly active geologic border between North America and Europe, Iceland is a land of vivid contrasts of … 1970 With artists frequently deriving inspiration from the extraordinary terrain and the ancestral culture, the arts are flourishing in Iceland. Iceland was founded more than 1,000 years ago during the Viking age of exploration and settled by a mixed Norse and Celtic population. This country updated its background information for the 2016/2017 dataset. The glaciers are a reminder of Iceland’s proximity to the Arctic Circle, which nearly touches its northernmost peninsula. Iceland has a long history of farm wor… Although the state provides financial support to the church, it extends considerable freedom. The powers of the president are similar to those of other heads of state in western European democracies. Much of the uninhabited regions, encompassing more than 80 percent of the island, are covered with permanent snow and ice (glaciers) or volcanic surface, preventing many agricultural activities. Vatnajökull covers an area of more than 3,000 square miles (8,000 square km) and is about 3,000 feet (900 metres) deep at its thickest point. Since WWII Iceland has maintained a high standard of living that is comparable to other Nordic countries. Greenland was colonizedby p… Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by … The monks are believed to have left shortly after the arrival of the pagan Norsemen. There are numerous theater companies in Iceland, and Reykjavik is home to a symphony orchestra, an opera house, and a ballet company. Iceland does not maintain armed forces. If that's not enough, click over to our collection of world maps and flags. All Icelandic youth are expected to work as soon as possible, particularly during the summer months when school is out of session. Volcanic activity has been particularly frequent since the 1970s. History & Background. Welfare services include unemployment insurance, old age and disability pensions, family and childbearing allowances, and sickness benefits. English, Danish, and German are also widely spoken and understood. Iceland is an island nation located in Northern Europe between the Greenland Sea and the Northern Atlantic Ocean. U.S.-ICELAND RELATIONS The United States was the first country to recognize Iceland’s independence in 1944 following Danish rule. These holes were 790 and 1300 feet deep. The enlightened period of peace, or the "Golden Age," lasted 200 years until internal feuds resulting in civil war led to submission to the king of Norway and a new monarchical code in 1271. The oldest rocks were formed about 16 million years ago. The early settlement, made up primarily of Norwegian seafarers and adventurers, fostered further excursions to Greenland and the coast of North America (which the Norse called Vinland). Many Icelanders, for example, still believe in elves, trolls, and other figures in the mythical landscape of the Norse past, while even Icelanders who live in cities harbour a vision of their country as a pastoral land, in the words of Nobel Prize-winning author Halldór Laxness, of. Manuscript illumination, woodcarving, and folk music have been associated with periods of heightened interest. The largest, Deildartunguhver, emits nearly 50 gallons (190 litres) of boiling water per second. More than 60 percent of the country's population resides in or near the capital city of Reykjavik ("Bay of Smokes" named for the geo-thermal stream), situated in the southwestern region of the island. The post of governor was abolished. The first bishopric, or center for learning, was established at Skal-holt in south Iceland in 1056, and a second was developed at Holar in the north in 1106. In the southwest several fine natural harbours have directed interest toward the sea, and good fishing grounds lie off the shores of this region. The settlements are limited to a narrow coastal belt, valleys, and lowland plains in the south and southwest. and its Licensors Much of Iceland is underlain by basalt, a dark rock of igneous origin. It is one of the most volcanic regions in the world. Iceland’s best-known volcano, Hekla, erupted four times in the 20th century: in 1947, 1970, 1980, and 1991; it also had a series of small eruptions in 2000. In 1000 A.D., Christianity was peacefully adopted at the Althing, which met for two weeks each summer and attracted a significant portion of the population. Located 180 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland's nearest neighbor is Greenland to the west (180 miles), followed by Scotland to the south east (495 miles), and Norway to the east (590 miles). Over 25 airlines maintain scheduled flights to Iceland. It’s an island isolated from the other parts of Europe, famous from the amazing nature, awesome landscapes and (since recently) a place where the Game of Thrones was filmed. Because the ruling class was Nordic, both the language and the culture have been predominantly Scandinavian from the beginning. However, the United States, which has assumed responsibility for Iceland's defense, maintains a naval air station at the Keflavik International Airport. View data tables. All Rights Reserved Roughly 90-94 percent of Icelanders are Protestants (73 percent Evangelical Lutheran) and 1 percent are Catholic. Geologically young, Iceland contains about 200 volcanoes of various types. Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country are home to over two-thirds of the population. In 1700, less than half of the population of Iceland could read. However, literacy was accomplished in the eighteenth century as children were taught to read by their families or clergy in their homes. A major eruption took place in 1973, when a volcano on Heima Island (Heimaey) spilled lava into the town of Vestmannaeyjar, an important fishing centre. In 1918 Iceland became an independent state under the Danish king. Iceland joined the United Nations in 1946 and it is a charter member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Widely known as “The Land of Fire and Ice” Iceland is home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe, and some of the world’s most active volcanoes. Iceland has a rich literary tradition and unusually high standards of education, with 15 percent of the national budget devoted to education. Iceland is the oldest democracy in the world. 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