Iceland Information - Page 2
The first Norwegian colonists, led by Ingolfur Arnarson, arrived in Iceland at the end of the ninth century. Other Norwegians, and some migrants from the British Isles, followed.
In 930 the Icelanders founded the Althing, the world’s first parliamentary system.
Civil wars broke out in the thirteenth century and in 1262 Iceland came under Norwegian control. In 1380 Iceland and Norway entered a union with Denmark. Iceland remained under Danish Rule when Norway entered a union with Sweden in 1814.
It was not until 1874 that Iceland was granted its own Constitution; Home Rule was allowed in 1904. At the end of the First World War (1918) Denmark recognized Iceland as a sovereign state but the King of Denmark remained Iceland's king.
During the Second World War Germany invaded Denmark. To prevent Germany taking Iceland, British troops, and later, American soldiers, occupied the island.
On 17 June 1944 Iceland broke its ties with Denmark and declared itself the Republic of Iceland. Iceland became a member of the United Nations in 1946 and a member of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in 1949.
Over the years the services sector came to play an increasing role in Iceland's economy. Tourism increased and domestic banks expanded into foreign markets.
Towards the end of 2008 Iceland became a casualty of the global financial crisis. The government had no option but to take control of the country's largest bank and most of the banking sector. The IMF approved a $2.1 billion loan package to aid Iceland in its financial crisis, the first western country to seek emergency aid from the IMF since 1976.
By February 2010 unemployment had soared to 9%, up from the pre-financial crisis figure of 1% in early 2008.
In the past, Iceland has not applied for EU membership over fears that the country might lose control of its fishing resources. However, since the collapse of the financial system there is interest in joining the EU and adopting the Euro. (2011)
Iceland is famous for the Icelandic Sagas. Between the early twelfth and early thirteenth centuries important histories were written, including the Landnamabok, the chronicle of the colonisation of Iceland, and Heimskringla, the history of the Kings of Norway (up to 1184).
Halldor Laxness (1902-1998), Iceland's best known modern author, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955.
Well known painters include Asgrimur Jonsson (1876-1958) and Jon Stefansson (1881-1962). The works of the sculptor Asmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982) can be seen at the museum in Freyjugata.
Iceland's most famous opera singer is Kristjan Johannsson.The singer and actress Bjork is perhaps the island's most well known personality.
Football is Iceland's favourite team game.
Glima, Icelandic wrestling, is a traditional sport dating back to the ninth century. Horse riding also dates back to the early colonisation of Iceland in the ninth century.
Swimming is popular and water for indoor and outdoor swimming pools can be supplied by geothermal springs.
Winter sports are skiing, snowboarding, skating and ice hockey.
Christian religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter are observed. Other holidays include New Year's Day, Labour Day (1 May) and Independence Day (from Denmark - 17 June 1944).
News is available from Newslink.
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