Because of the country's dependence both on reliable fish catches and foreign demand for fish products, Iceland's economy remained unstable well into the 1990s, when the country's economy was greatly diversified. After the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, and pursuant to the request of NATO military authorities, the United States and Iceland agreed that the United States should again take responsibility for Iceland's defense. The Icelandic Vikings founded … The Icelandic National Museum is an unassuming place but in some way it manages to display its artifacts in a way that tell the story of the peculiar and remote island country Iceland from its Viking age origins to modern times in a captivating way. During this time, the population declined. According to a 2018 study in the Scandinavian Journal of History, Iceland benefited massively from its relationship with the United States during the Cold War. It is also believed that the western fjords of Norway were simply overcrowded in this period. There is a possible early mention of Iceland in the book De mensura … It led to major government interference in the marketplace that lasted until the post-World War II period. The Vikings wrote down almost nothing about their own adventures. However, Iceland shared the Danish Monarchy until World War II. Although Iceland was neutral in the Second World War, the United Kingdom invaded and peacefully occupied it in 1940 to forestall a Nazi occupation, after Denmark was overrun by the German Wehrmacht. Archeological findings in Reykjavík are consistent with the date given there: there was a settlement in Reykjavík around 870. The constitution was revised in 1903, and a minister for Icelandic affairs, residing in Reykjavík, was made responsible to the Althing, the first of whom was Hannes Hafstein. Lief Erikson (c.970-1020) was a Viking adventurer from Iceland who travelled throughout Europe, before eventually stepping foot in America. They were rightly feared at the height of their reign; taking whatever lives, land and property they wanted by force. Widespread protests in late 2008 and early 2009 resulted in the resignation of the Haarde government, which was replaced on 1 February 2009 by a coalition government led by the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement. The Viking / Norse influence remains to this day, though. The recorded history of Iceland began with the settlement by Viking explorers and their slaves from the east, particularly Norway and the British Isles, in the late ninth century. 1. Recent archaeological excavations have revealed the ruins of a cabin in Hafnir on the Reykjanes peninsula (close to Keflavík International Airport). In 1843, a new Althing was founded as a consultative assembly. Importantly, there was no central executive power, and therefore laws were enforced only by the people. I recommend reading Icelandic Literature of the Vikings only after getting a handle on what a Viking actually is. The subsequent strict Danish–Icelandic Trade Monopoly in the 17th and 18th centuries was detrimental to the economy. In 1874, a thousand years after the first acknowledged settlement, Denmark granted Iceland a constitution and home rule, which again was expanded in 1904. Iceland's history has also been marked by a number of natural disasters. It dates back about a millennium.  Most were killed on cargo and fishing vessels sunk by German aircraft, U-boats or mines. You can follow in the footsteps of Iceland’s earliest residents in a number of ways: Taste Viking food (and more modern delicacies) on a Reykjavik food walk; get a taste of Viking living with our rafting and beer tasting tour; or visit the beautiful town of Hofn, which includes a historically accurate recreation of a Viking settlement. Beer was banned in Iceland for most of the 20th century. Since Iceland had marginal farmland in good times, the climate change resulted in hardship for the population.  This elevated portion of the ridge is known as the Reykjanes Ridge. Norway, in turn, was united with Sweden (1319) and then Denmark (1376). Carbon dating reveals that the cabin was abandoned somewhere between 770 and 880, suggesting that Iceland was populated well before 874. It dates back about a millennium. As soon as the Norseman came to Iceland, they did not have a friendly relationship at all. On top of this, Laki erupted in 1783, spitting out 12.5 cubic kilometres (3.0 cu mi) of lava. What do Ireland, Italy, Canada and Iceland have in common? Iceland demanded Britain allow it to trade with Germany, to no avail. Floods, ash, and fumes killed 9,000 people and 80% of the livestock. Jóhannesson became the new president of Iceland.  Government interference in the economy increased: "Imports were regulated, trade with foreign currency was monopolized by state-owned banks, and loan capital was largely distributed by state-regulated funds".  The total value of Icelandic exports fell from 74 million kronur in 1929 to 48 million kronur in 1932, and did not rise again to the pre-1930 level until after 1939. If they took place at all! Some of the Irish and Scots were slaves and servants of the Norse chiefs, according to the sagas of Icelanders, the Landnámabók, and other documents. Following rapid financial growth, the 2008–11 Icelandic financial crisis occurred. Laws were not written down but were instead memorized by an elected Lawspeaker (lǫgsǫgumaðr). There was no resistance, but the government protested against what it called a "flagrant violation" of Icelandic neutrality, though Prime Minister Hermann Jónasson called on Icelanders to treat the British troops with politeness, as if they were guests. The Icelandic Sagas. This eradicated unemployment in Iceland and raised wages considerably. Some settlers coming from the British Isles were "Hiberno-Norse," with cultural and family connections both to the coastal and island areas of Ireland and/or Scotland and to Norway. , 1,245 Icelanders, Icelandic Americans, and Icelandic Canadians were registered as soldiers during World War I. Looking for a Winter Wonderland to escape to? This refers to Sturla Þórðarson and his sons, Sighvatr Sturluson, and Snorri Sturluson, who were one of two main clans fighting for power over Iceland, causing havoc in a land inhabited almost entirely by farmers who could ill-afford to travel far from their farms, across the island to fight for their leaders. Rimmugýgur Viking club celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017 with many feasts and I ran into them in many places. Another early, pivotal settler to Iceland was Garðar Svavarsson, a Viking who owned land in Denmark. The genetics of Iceland: Recent research looking at the ancient DNA of Iceland Vikings from multiple archaeological sites dating to the late first millennium has shown that they had predominantly Norse but also Gaelic origins . Viking incursions into Britain were also expelled thoroughly during this time, potentially leading to a need for peaceful settlement in other lands. As part of my Event and Business Management degree, I decided to move to Iceland to join the marketing department at Arctic Adventures. 16 million years ago. “With law shall the country be built” is the Icelandic police force’s motto to this day. By around 930, Alþingi, a national assembly had started. USD, 197 Iceland's resultant poverty was aggravated by severe natural disasters like the Móðuharðindin or "Mist Hardships". Vikings are a huge part of Iceland's rich and exciting history: Here are some interesting facts about Iceland’s early settlers that might surprise you…. However, Iceland became more isolated during World War I and suffered a significant decline in living standards. The ruins of a Viking settlement have been found at L'Anse-aux-Meadows, Newfoundland. In Viking Age Iceland, the law was taken seriously. Everything from what to see and do to daylight hours, all in one place. Iceland was still uninhabited long after the rest of Western Europe had been settled. Soon after, knowledge of new lands further west began to trickle in, first by way of Gunnbjörn Ulfsson whose ship was blown off course to within sighting range of Greenlandic islands (at an unknown date), and we know that in 978 CE, Snæbjörn Galti undertook an expedition in that direction, too, but that it turned into a disaster. With the introduction of absolute monarchy in Denmark–Norway in 1660 under Frederick III of Denmark, the Icelanders relinquished their autonomy to the crown, including the right to initiate and consent to legislation. According to the Landnámabók, Iceland was discovered by Naddodd, one of the first settlers in the Faroe Islands, who was sailing from Norway to the Faroes but lost his way and drifted to the east coast of Iceland. Additionally, the remains of Viking women sometimes show them buried with sorceress’s staffs. Church fast days increased demand for dried codfish, which was easily caught and prepared for export, and the cod trade became an important part of the economy.. On 10 May 1940, British military forces began an invasion of Iceland when they sailed into Reykjavík harbour in Operation Fork. The membership came amid an anti-NATO riot in Iceland. © Copyright 2020. Following this, the Icelanders became Lutherans and remain largely so to this day. So, while many Icelanders are definitely descended from Vikings, it might be more accurate to view them as peaceful settlers (especially if you overlook what they did before they settled!). Many of the Vikings that came to Iceland were simply fleeing the rules and regulations in the Scandinavian countries.  In particular, it took stronger actions to stop the involvement of English traders with Iceland. Iceland’s location and landscape meant that it was left relatively untouched for most of the Earth’s existence. In the early thirteenth century, the internal conflict known as the age of the Sturlungs weakened Iceland, which eventually became subjugated to Norway through the Old Covenant (1262–1264), effectively ending the commonwealth.  At the time, Icelanders and the Danish King considered this state of affairs to be temporary and believed that Iceland would return these powers to Denmark when the occupation was over. Little changed in the decades following the treaty. The first were actually Irish monks but they did not stay longer. Iceland became a charter member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 30 March 1949, with the reservation that it would never take part in offensive action against another nation. Yule Lads or like we like to call them in Icelandic Jólasveinar! There are so many places to see in Iceland, but here are out top picks if you’re into Vikings: #1. He sailed from what is now Norway and arrived in Iceland somewhere around 825. By 930, the chieftains had established a form of governance, the Althing, making it one of the world's oldest parliaments. Jón Arason and his two sons were subsequently beheaded in Skálholt. The accounts of enemies. Indeed, a staff bearer (or “völva”) was said to hold great power and influence, with many believing their presence on the battlefield could turn the tide and ensure victory. The Vikings’ next step out into the Atlantic – the discovery and settlement of Iceland – is one of the best documented events of the Viking Age. Following a recession in the early 1990s, economic growth was considerable, averaging about 4% per year from 1994.  As a result, on 10 April, the Parliament of Iceland took temporary control of foreign affairs (setting up what would be the forerunner of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs) and the Coast Guard. , The war had a lasting impact on Icelandic society and Iceland's external relations. Vikings Sticker Book $ 18.96 + Quick View. Iceland in The 18th Century | The Age of Volcanic Eruptions , Iceland remained, for a long time, one of the world's last uninhabited larger islands (the others being New Zealand and Madagascar). The Althing, which had been suspended in 1799, was restored in 1844, and Iceland gained sovereignty after World War I, becoming the Kingdom of Iceland on 1 December 1918. The United States closed the Keflavík Air Base in September 2006. In March 2006, the United States announced that it intended to withdraw the greater part of the Icelandic Defence Force. Magnet Myvatn $ 7.91 + Quick View. 2. The first Norseman who deliberately sailed to Garðarshólmi was Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson. By around 930, Alþingi, a national assembly had started. You can follow in the footsteps of Iceland’s earliest residents in a number of ways: Taste Viking food (and more modern delicacies). Don’t get us wrong: The Vikings were the scourge of many a village and town. Settlements from that era have been found in southwest Greenland and eastern Canada, and sagas such as Saga of Erik the Red and Greenland saga speak of the settlers' exploits.  This period is known as the Móðuharðindin or "Mist Hardships". 3. DNA tests on modern Icelanders show a Norwegian presence. At least 144 of the combatants died during World War I (96 in combat, 19 from wounds suffered during combat, 2 from accidents, and 27 from disease), 61 of them were Iceland-born. Following elections in May 2007, the Independence Party, headed by Haarde, remained in government, albeit in a new coalition with the Social Democratic Alliance. This period is referred to therefore as the þjóðveldisöld or goðaveldisöld (National or Chieftain State) period by Icelandic authors, and the Old Commonwealth or Freestate by English ones. Shot glass Iceland map in gold color $ 6.17 + Quick View. Recorded settlement has conventionally been dated back to 874, although archaeological evidence indicates Gaelic monks from Ireland, known as papar according to sagas, had settled Iceland before that date. During this time, Iceland remained independent, a period known as the Old Commonwealth, and Icelandic historians began to document the nation's history in books referred to as sagas of Icelanders. In a short 1,000 years, it has evolved to become one of the most fascinating, successful, progressive and safe countries in the world. Economic stability increased and previously chronic inflation was drastically reduced. The recorded history of Iceland began with the settlement by Viking explorers and their slaves from the east, particularly Norway and the British Isles, in the late ninth century. This archaeological find may also indicate that the monks left Iceland before the Norse arrived.. While the Icelandic government did follow through on its threat to break off diplomatic relations with the UK during the Third Cod War, it never went through on its threats to close the U.S. base or to withdraw from NATO. This is probably one of the most surprising facts about Vikings. This gave rise to feuds, which provided the writers of the sagas with plenty of material. Many of these slaves came from the British Isles and Eastern Europe. Iceland was settled by Viking explorers sometime in the 9th century. The government's fiscal policy was strictly Keynesian, and their aim was to create the necessary industrial infrastructure for a prosperous developed country. Due to Iceland's strategic importance during the Cold War, it was important for the U.S. and NATO to maintain the base on Icelandic soil and to keep Iceland as a member of NATO. Here are a few fun facts about our Norwegian ancestors, some of which might surprise you…. The crisis resulted in the greatest migration from Iceland since 1887, with a net exodus of 5,000 people in 2009. Iceland Is … Though the name may be misleading, Iceland is a rich soil mass thought to birth the greenest greens of all. ‘The Process of State-Formation in Medieval Iceland’, Viator. The First Cod War (1958–1961) was fought over Iceland's extension from 4 to 12 nautical miles (7 to 22 km). , The 16th century has been referred to as the "German Age" by Icelandic historians due to the prominence of German traders.  The treasury became highly indebted, and there was a shortage of food and fears over an imminent famine. The Vikings traveled from their homeland to raid and colonize the British Isles, Iceland, parts of Greenland, the Frankish Empire (France), parts of Italy, as well as other areas in Europe. There he settled with his family around 874, in a place he named Reykjavík "Smoke Cove", probably from the geothermal steam rising from the earth. One period in Icelandic history, as Gunnar Karlsson describes, can be considered the period from 930 CE to 1262–1264, when there was no central government or leader, political power being characterised by chieftains ("goðar"). 2. Unlike Norway, Denmark did not need Iceland's fish and homespun wool. The main feast for their 20th anniversary was held at Víðistaðatún park. People have lived on Iceland for about 1,200 years. Norway's consolidation of power in Iceland was slow, and the Althing intended to hold onto its legislative and judicial power.  Dutch and French traders became more prominent in the mid-17th century.. After Reykjavík, the most populous cities in Iceland are Kópavogur and Hafnarfjörður, both of which are included in the capital region. Look no further, the guide to January in Iceland is here! Iceland then became a member of the European Economic Area in 1994. Icelanders were, in general, sympathetic to the cause of the Allies. He made the journey in a Viking longboat. "University of Michigan Law School Faculty & Staff", Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_Iceland&oldid=992558841, Articles with unsourced statements from August 2009, Articles needing additional references from July 2014, All articles needing additional references, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Íslenska kirkjan í elstu tíð (The early Icelandic church) 1030–1152, Ísland undir stjórn Noregskonunga og uppgangur kennimanna (Norwegian royal rule and the rise of the clergy) 1262–1400, Kirkjuvald (Ecclesiastical power) 1400–1550, Einveldi og einokun (Absolutism and monopoly trading) 1683–1800, Viðreisnarbarátta (Campaign for restoration [of past glories]) 1801–1874, Colonisation and Commonwealth c. 870–1262, A primitive society builds a state 1809–1918. Uppskriftir og myndir frá jarðfrøði-ferðum kring landið (October 2004)", "US Geological Survey. Iceland became de facto fully sovereign with these actions. Archaeological evidence suggests earlier temporary settlement, perhaps from Gaelic monks. The early history of Iceland is chronicled in literary sources, the oldest of which is Íslendingabók - … Sverrir Jakobsson. At Þingvellir (which means “assembly plains”) about 30 miles from where Reykjavik now stands, the first Icelanders made an annual pilgrimage to this assembly. While covered in ice, Iceland's icefalls, fjords and valleys were formed. Corporate income tax was reduced to 18% (from around 50% at the beginning of the decade), inheritance tax was greatly reduced, and the net wealth tax was abolished. The first Viking to actually land on Greenland with his he… In 930, the ruling chiefs established an assembly called the Alþingi (Althing). These results confirm the historical records of migration from both Scandinavia and the British Isles. Iceland remained under Norwegian kingship until 1380, when the death of Olaf II of Denmark extinguished the Norwegian male royal line. Acutely aware of the cost of violence and lawlessness (possibly because they engaged in it previously! T-Shirt Sheep blue 9-11 years $ 24.74 + Quick View. If you can't find it please check your spam folder. In 1602, Iceland was forbidden to trade with countries other than Denmark, by order of the Danish government, which at this time pursued mercantilist policies. The vote was 97% in favour of ending the union and 95% in favour of the new republican constitution. , English and German merchants became more prominent in Iceland at the start of the 15th century. The Book of Icelanders (Íslendingabók) is a vital historical book written by Ari the Wise in the 12th Century: It claims that the Vikings arrived to find the Irish holy men, but that the Irishmen left when they realised they’d have to share the island with these scary Norwegians. The oldest stone specimens found in Iceland date back to ca. The religion of the original Viking settlers of Iceland, the old Norse paganism Ásatrú, is not just still alive and well in Iceland, it is undergoing something of a renaissance. This created a dramatic deficit in Iceland's trade. Iceland also traded significantly with the United Kingdom during the war, as Iceland found itself within its sphere of influence. Icelandic patrol ships and British trawlers clashed in all four Cod Wars.  The Icelandic trade was important to some British ports; for example, in Hull, the Icelandic trade accounted for more than ten percent of Hull's total trade. We are ALWAYS making up new and different way... We've sent you an email to confirm your subscription. There is little consensus on how to divide Icelandic history. Eventually all of the Nordic states were united in one alliance, the Kalmar Union (1397–1523), but on its dissolution, Iceland fell under Danish rule. Swedish sailor Garðar Svavarsson also accidentally drifted to the coast of Iceland. Here is our quick guide to the current state of Ásatrú, the ancient religion of the Vikings, in Iceland. Sturla used the power and influence of the Sturlungar family clan to wage war against the other clans in Iceland. The Danish–Icelandic Trade Monopoly remained in effect until 1786. Both books have some overlap when discussing the … We keep hearing the same old reasons again and again but Iceland isn't all that because of what happened in the older days. 2. , During these disputes, Iceland threatened closure of the U.S. base at Keflavík, and the withdrawal of its NATO membership. It was considered essential to keep unemployment down and to protect the export fishing industry through currency manipulation and other means. Sometime later, around the 12th Century, they started writing these laws down, which is how civilizations are born. If you guessed that they’ve all been settled by the Vikings, you’re dead right! This place eventually became the capital and the largest city of modern Iceland. If either of these men had better navigators, Iceland might have looked and sounded very different indeed! Denmark was still occupied by Germany at the time. , Iceland was part of neutral Denmark during the war.  Despite this, the relationship with the United States was contentious in Icelandic domestic politics, leaving some scholars to describe Iceland as a "rebellious ally" and "reluctant ally. Join the National Geographic Kids gang as we learn to live like a Scandinavian sea-warrior, in our ten fierce facts about the Vikings… Viking facts. And that could all be down to two Europeans who didn’t even mean to settle here! Except for a brief interruption from 1799-1844, Iceland’s independent commonwealth has been governed by the Althingi parliament since 930, the world’s oldest extant parliamentary institution. Nonetheless, the Christian clergy had unique opportunities to accumulate wealth via the tithe, and power gradually shifted to ecclesiastical authorities as Iceland's two bishops in Skálholt and Hólar acquired land at the expense of the old chieftains. This agreement, signed on 5 May 1951, was the authority for the controversial U.S. military presence in Iceland, which remained until 2006. Updated Jun 16, 2018 at 11:09am Getty Iceland performing their infamous war clap. However, they needed all the trees to build homes, boats, and to clear land for farming. (Source: Treehugger) 7. The Icelandic sheepdog is the only native dog in Iceland and was used for centuries to herd sheep, cattle and horses in Iceland. The settlement of Iceland began in the year 874 AD when a Viking chieftain from Norway, Ingólfr Arnarson, became the island’s first permanent settler.More Norwegians some Scandinavians as well followed through the centuries. It is recognized, however, that Ingólfr Arnarson may not have been the first one to settle permanently in Iceland—that may have been Náttfari, one of Garðar Svavarsson's men who stayed behind when Garðar returned to Scandinavia. Now, we’re not saying that Vikings of the 9th and 10th Centuries were gentle souls who treated women perfectly, but it’s fair to say that they were centuries ahead of some other cultures when it came to women’s rights. Norway (and thus Iceland) then became part of the Kalmar Union, along with Sweden and Denmark, with Denmark as the dominant power. Viking women were also allowed to divorce from their men – very progressive!  Iceland's competent governance of internal affairs and relations with other states—while relations with Denmark were interrupted during the war—showed that Iceland was capable of acquiring further powers, which resulted in Denmark recognizing Iceland as a fully sovereign state in 1918. It became more difficult to raise barley, the primary cereal crop, and livestock required additional fodder to survive longer and colder winters. , The occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany began on 9 April 1940, severing communications between Iceland and Denmark.  They behaved accordingly, and there were no mishaps. As the end of the first millennium grew near, many prominent Icelanders had accepted the new faith. The German takeover of Norway left Iceland highly exposed; Britain decided it could not risk a German takeover of Iceland. Realizing that this place was in fact habitable, despite the horribly cold winter, and full of useful resources, Flóki restocked his boat. In August 2017 Iceland's oldest and biggest Viking club Rimmugýgur, held a Viking feast at Víðistaðatún park in Hafnarfjörður town. , In the quarter of a century preceding the war, Iceland had prospered.  Parliament also elected a provisional governor, Sveinn Björnsson, who later became the Republic's first president. The milder climate means summers are … Today, reforestation is being attempted, but you'll still definitely notice … Many of the settlers were leaving Norway because of a tyrannical king, and within a few short decades, separate settlement villages were sprouting up. Much of what we ‘know’ about the Vikings was written down in Icelandic sagas. In the 18th century, climatic conditions in Iceland reached an all-time low since the original settlement. (At the time, Iceland had a population of around 120,000. Areas near the Arctic Circle such as Iceland and Greenland began to have shorter growing seasons and colder winters. The traditional explanation for the exodus from Norway is that people were fleeing the harsh rule of the Norwegian king Harald Fairhair, whom medieval literary sources credit with the unification of some parts of modern Norway during this period. 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