Iceland History

Iceland History

Middle ages

Until the 8th century AD the island was not populated, even if it was probably known to the seafaring people for several hundred years. Irish and Scottish monks came to the island at the beginning of the 9th century but did not establish permanent settlements. It was only around 875 that Vikings from Norway, under the leadership of Ing¨®lfr Arnason, founded the first permanent settlements. Over the next few years, thousands of peasants and nobles from Norway followed, who wanted to escape the efforts of the King of Norway, Harald H¨¢rfagr (Schönhaar). With them came the Norwegian culture and traditions to the island, there was a rule of the individual noble families. In 930 a kind of parliament was founded by the 39 clans (gods), (Althing), that was responsible for jurisprudence and legislation and consisted of 12 thing circles (nobility).

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According to AbbreviationFinder, Erik the Red started his journey from Iceland around 982, during which he discovered the Greenland inhabited by Eskimos. Around the same time, the then Norwegian king Olaf Tryggvasson began to Christianize the Icelandic population. To weaken this influence, the Althing decided in 1000 to accept the Christian faith for the population.

Disagreements among the aristocratic landowners who weakened the country led to Althing recognizing Norway’s sovereignty in 1265, and in 1990 Iceland and Norway came under the rule of Denmark, whose king Christian III. in the middle of the 16th century, the Reformation was enforced by force and without any say in the population of Iceland.

Modern times

From 1602 to 1854, Denmark held the trade monopoly: those who wanted to do business or trade with Icelanders first had to purchase a license. This meant a decisive weakening of the Icelandic economy, as well as decimated epidemics and the consequences of natural disasters (1783 eruption of the Laki volcano) the population and led to famines.

In 1800 the Icelandic parliament Althing was abolished by Denmark. A first resistance movement against the domination of Denmark began to form under the leadership of J¨®n Sigurdsson. In 1834 the Althing was reinstated – with limited rights – in 1854 the Danish trade monopoly was abolished. Around 20 years later, Denmark again gave Althing legislative powers, and Iceland received its own constitution. In December 1918, Iceland was recognized as an independent state, but remained linked to Denmark through a personal union: Iceland received its own government, which was appointed by the Danish king (who remained the head of state), but was controlled by the Althing. The political parties still relevant today emerged: the social democratic party Althýduflokkurinn (AF),

From World War II

During the Second World War, the strategically important Iceland was occupied by British and American troops. In 1944 the personal union with Denmark was abolished (97% of the Icelanders favored a detachment), in the same year the Republic of Iceland was proclaimed. Sveinn Bjørnsson, who was directly selected by the people, became the first president. Iceland became a member of the United Nations in 1946 and a member of NATO in 1949, and was thus included in the western alliance system. A military agreement with the United States that was concluded two years later meant that America maintained its military bases on the island in Keflav¨ªk. (The agreement was renewed again in 1995. Iceland does not have its own armed forces.)

In the aftermath there were repeated conflicts between Iceland on the one hand and Great Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany on the other (“Cod Wars”). Several times (1964, 1972, 1975), Iceland arbitrarily expanded its territorial waters up to 200 nautical miles to ensure the existence of its fishing fleet and fish processing industry, which are the cornerstones of the Icelandic economy. In June 1976 the 200 mile zone for Icelandic fishing was recognized under international law.

In 1985 Iceland declared itself a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

If the country’s accession to the European Union was previously rejected due to disagreements over the fishing borders, the accession of Sweden and Finland led to the majority of the Icelandic population in 1994 opting for EU membership for the first time. The Icelandic parliament decided in July 2009 to apply for EU membership. However, accession negotiations were suspended by the Icelandic left government in January 2013. Iceland had already joined the Schengen Agreement in 2001.

  • HomoSociety: introduces social conditions of Iceland, including labor market, insurance, healthcare, gender equality and population information.

The global financial crisis hit Iceland extremely hard and led to the collapse of the Icelandic banking system in 2008. The reason is the aggressive international expansion of the three largest Icelandic banks. In October 2008, the Icelandic financial regulator took control of the three largest banking houses in the country (Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir). The country threatened by national bankruptcy received international financial aid.

In October 2012, a non-binding referendum was held on a draft for a new constitution, which included the abolition of the state church, a reform of the electoral law, the transfer of energy sources to inalienable public property and the reorganization of fishing quotas. The reform was adopted; however, the implementation of the constitutional changes is delayed.

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