iceland landscape

Iceland's History

Irish monks in search of pagans to convert were the first to set foot on Iceland, led by St Brendan in the 8th Century. Instead of converts they found solitude. The quiet ended with the arrival of Vikings who systematically settled the windswept isle from 870-930, founding a village at the modern day capital Reykjavik. Iceland became an experimental Norse democracy which lasted until 1262 when the Icelandic Commonwealth gave way to the rule of Chieftains. Iceland eventually yielded to Norwegian and then Danish rule. In World War Two Iceland was occupied by the Allies and the island took advantage of Denmark’s absence to become a republic in 1944. The island’s economy grew fantastically during the war years supplying Allied convoys and in the following decades the economy flourished. In the 1950’s and 1970’s Iceland clashed with the UK in what became known as the Cod Wars, a bitter argument over fishing grounds, finally settled in 1976.

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Right Now

In 2007 the United Nations’ Human Development Index rated Iceland, the world’s most developed nation. But in 2008 Iceland became the first European nation to receive an IMF loan in 32 years, following the spectacular collapse of their financial system. Despite this the island still has a huge fisheries industry, large aluminium smelting enterprise and developing eco-tourism sector encouraged by a devalued currency. Instead of bailing out the bankers, Iceland put some in jail to the annoyance of UK account holders. In 2013 Iceland withdrew its application to join the European Union and adopting the Euro now seems like a bad idea. While Europe struggles, Iceland's economy recovers.

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