History of Iceland
Iceland came into existence about 25 million years ago and is geologically the youngest country on the planet. (Photo by: Justin Pickard)
The history of the island goes back to the 9th century. The first settlers were probably Irish monks, but the first permanent resident of Iceland was the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfur Arnarson. He went ashore in 874 in southern Iceland. He named the place where he was to settle permanently a few years later Reykjavík, which means “smoking bay”, in reference to the steam that rises from the many hot springs. In 930, at Þingvellir, one of the first democracies in the world was founded. The Old Commonwealth Age, as described in the classic Icelandic Sagas, lasted until 1262. In that year, Iceland lost its independence to Norway.
In 1944 the current republic was founded. The country is governed by the AlÞing (parliament), whose members are elected every four years. Every four years there are also elections for the presidency.