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Iceland, land of snow

Originally populated by Vikings and then ruled by Norway and Denmark, Iceland becomes a republic quite late.

From the Viking era to Norwegian rule

Even though we cannot prove it, it appears that the first residents of Iceland were... Irish monks! As from 850, Viking colonists come over from Norway and Sweden. The island will first be named "Land of Snow" before being renamed "Land of Ice"... Iceland (while on many of Iceland's hikes, you come to appreciate how fitting the name is) Farms spring up all over the country and in 930 is founded the oldest parliament in the world that is still active today. Under pressure from the Norwegian king Iceland becomes Christian, but its pagan rituals endure. The 12th and 13th centuries are marked by the golden age of Icelandic literature, with in particular sagas written in ancient Nordic.

In 1200 there is anarchy: the government is dissolved, this heralds the Sturlungar age. In 1281, Iceland comes under Norwegian rule.

Waterfall in the wild in Iceland

The foundation of the Republic of Iceland

In 1300, 1341 and 1389, Iceland is hit by eruptions from Hekla: the livestock dies, resulting in a great famine. The Kalmar union, which unites Norway, Sweden and Denmark, gives Denmark control of Iceland. Iceland is impoverished by Denmark's trade monopoly. From 1855 to 1890, Iceland comes closer to independence by reestablishing free trade and also through a Constitution project. Autonomous in 1904, the country will become an independent state within the Kingdom of Denmark in 1918. In 1944, the majority of Icelanders vote for the country's independence from Denmark: the Republic of Iceland is founded.

The world's first openly homosexual political leader and the refusal to join the EU

The 2008 crisis will come as a great shock to the country: the three national banks collapse. In 2009, Johanna Siguroardottir is named Prime Minister, thus becoming the first openly homosexual political leader in the world: it is she who requests that Iceland join the European Union In 2010, the Icelandic Parliament decides to bring the former Prime Minister, Geir Haarde, before the court for negligence during the country's financial collapse. The present centre-right wing government stopped negotiations to join the European Union in 2013 and completely withdrew its request to join in 2014. Iceland, a country to discover.

Tiphaine Leblanc
78 contributions
Updated 21 March 2016

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