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Map showing the location of Iceland
The flag of Iceland

Iceland is an island country in the far north west of Europe and is famous for its natures beauty and variety also the loftiness Icelandic Sagas who tell the tales of the Vikings and their survivors. Iceland does not border any other country and the capital city is Reykjavik where almost 70% of the Icelandic population live. Iceland is not part of the European Union. The Krona is the currency of Iceland.

Iceland's History[edit | edit source]

A 19th century replica of a meeting of the Alþingi at Þingvellir.

It is generally believed that Iceland was discovered and settled by Norse Vikings in the second half of the 9th. The first settler was Ingólfur Arnason who came to Iceland with his brother Hjörleifur. Hjörleifur was killed by his slaves but Ingólfur built his homestead in Reykjavík in 874. From 874 to 930 lots of people, mostly Norse Vikings and their Irish slaves moved to the island and by 930, most available farmland had been claimed and the Althing, a parliament was founded as the political hub of the Icelandic Free State. Christianity was peacefully adopted in the year 1000.

In 1814, following the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark-Norway was broken up into two separate kingdoms by the way of the Treaty of Kiel. Iceland, however, remained a Danish dependency. The country's climate worsened during the 19th century, leading to mass emigrations to North America, largely Canada. Meanwhile, a new independence movement arose under the leadership of Jón Sigurðsson, inspired by the romantic and nationalist ideologies of mainland Europe. In 1874, Denmark granted Iceland home rule, which was expanded in 1904. In 1918, Iceland became fully independent but the head of state remained as the King of Denmark.

During World War II, the German occupation of Denmark on April 9, 1940 severed communications between Iceland and Denmark. A month later, British military forces sailed into Reykjavík harbor, violating Icelandic neutrality. Allied occupation of Iceland lasted throughout the war. In 1941, responsibility for the occupation was taken over by the United States Army. Following a national vote on the subject, Iceland formally became an independent republic on June 17, 1944. The occupation force left in 1946. Iceland became a member of NATO on March 30, 1949, amid domestic controversy and riots. On May 5, 1951, a defence agreement was signed with the United States -- American troops returned and stayed as part of the defence agreement throughout the Cold War and until the autumn of 2006.

Since World War II Iceland's economy has grown incredibly. The most common industries are financial services, tourism and fishing.


Cold War — between 1945 and 1991 there was military, economic, space, sporting and competition between the USA (and its allies) and the USSR (and its allies). There were often fears that a global war might start.

Iceland's Geography[edit | edit source]

Strokkur Eruption
Lava Flow at Krafla, 1984
Surtsey eruption. A new island was formed just outside the cost of iceland
Skaftafell Glacier. Iceland is constantly being shaped by these huge ice cubes

Iceland is an island with no borders. It is often referred to as the island of ice and fire and is constantly being shaped by Glaciers and volcanoes. The island is about 103,000 km2 (39,768.5 sq mi) meaning that per 3 Icelanders has 1 km2 for them self. About 23,805 km2 (9,191 sq mi) of the island is Vegetation, 2,757 km2 (1,065 sq mi) are Lakes and about 11,922 km2 (4,603 sq miles) are Glaciers. Iceland is geologically a young land, Iceland is located on a geological so called hot spot, thought to be caused by a mantle plume. Meaning that under the island is a hot red burning lava coming up all the way from the inner earth The island is also over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs right through it. This combined location means that geologically the island is extremely active, having many volcanoes, notably Hekla, Eldgjá, and Eldfell. The volcanic eruption of Laki in 1783–1784 caused a famine that killed nearly a quarter of the island's population; the eruption caused dust clouds and haze to appear over most of Europe and parts of Asia and Africa for several months after the eruption. Iceland has hundreds of mountains and volcanoes. The highest mountain is Hvannadalshnúkur at 2,110 metres.

Because Iceland is over a so called hot spot there are lots of hot springs and are also geysers. A word derived from the name of the most famous one in Iceland, Geysir in Haukadalur the most geologically active is Strokkur in the same area. With such a widespread availability of geothermal power, and also because of the numerous rivers and waterfalls that are harnessed for hydro power, residents of most towns have hot water and home heat for a low price. The island itself is composed primarily of basalt, a low-silica lava associated with effusive volcanism like Hawaii. There are, however, a variety of volcano-types on Iceland that produce more evolved lavas.

Iceland's People[edit | edit source]

Gullfoss is one of Iceland's many waterfalls

The Icelandic Population is about 300.000 people which is about the size of a small city in Europe therefore there are lots of things that make the Icelandic people so special for one their language.

Icelanders write and speak Icelandic, a North Germanic language descended from Old Norse. It is the only living language to retain the runic letter Þ (pronounced "TH") which indicates the fact that Icelandic has changed less from Old Norse than the other Nordic languages and has a considerable extent development of new vocabulary based on native roots rather than borrowings from English. Because of that Icelanders can still read and understand Old Norse which their famous sagas are written in. The Sagas were written around the time of the island's settlement. Until the Christianization of Iceland, many traditional Viking beliefs held strong, remnants of which remain today. For example, some Icelanders either believe in elves or are unwilling to rule out their existence. Christianity is the main religion in Iceland.

A page from Möðruvallabók containing part of the Icelandic Sagas
Reykjavík the capital of Iceland. Where more the 2/3 of the Icelandic population live

The majority of national foods are based around fish, lamb and dairy products. Þorramatur is a national food, consisting of many different dishes; this is not consumed on a daily basis but usually around the month of Þorri. Traditional dishes include skyr, cured ram scrota, cured shark, singed sheep heads and black pudding.

Though changing in the past years, Icelanders remain a very healthy nation. Children and teenagers participate in various types of leisure activities. Popular sports today are mainly football, track and field, handball and basketball. Sports such as golf, tennis, swimming, chess and horseback riding on Icelandic horses are also popular.

Iceland is home to the television station Nick Jr.'s animated program LazyTown (Icelandic: Latibær), a television program created by Magnús Scheving. It has become a very popular program for children and adults, and is shown in over 98 countries, including the US, Canada, Sweden and Latin America.[17] The LazyTown Studios are located in Garðabær. Iceland was also the home of The Sugarcubes, a popular 80's and 90's pop group; whose members included the now famous singer Björk.

Iceland's Sights[edit | edit source]

500,000 tourists visit Iceland every year. Popular attractions include the rugged landscape of Iceland which is generally peaceful because there are so few people in the country. Volcanoes, mountains and lakes are all extremely popular because of their sheer number. The capital city is popular because of its small city when compared to other world capitals. Iceland has 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Þingvellir National Park and Surtsey, which is a small volcanic island of the Icelandic coast.

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