Icelanders (Icelandic: Íslendingar) are a North Germanic ethnic group and nation who are native to the island country of Iceland and speak Icelandic.[8]

Icelanders established the country of Iceland in 930 A.D. when the Althingi (Parliament) met for the first time. Iceland came under the reign of Norwegian, Swedish and Danish kings but regained full sovereignty and independence from the Danish monarchy on 1 December 1918, when the Kingdom of Iceland was established. On 17 June 1944, the monarchy was abolished and the Icelandic republic was founded. The language spoken is Icelandic, a North Germanic language, and Lutheranism is the predominant religion. Historical and DNA records indicate that around 60 to 80 percent of the male settlers were of Norse origin (primarily from Western Norway) and a similar percentage of the women were of Gaelic stock from Ireland and peripheral Scotland.[9][10]

Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Iceland 295,672[2]
 United States42,716[4]
 United Kingdom2,225[5]
Other countries combinedc. 3,000[5]
Lutheranism (mainly the Church of Iceland);[7]
Neo-pagan; Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox minorities among other faiths; secular.
Historically Norse paganism, Celtic Christianity (c. 1000) and Catholicism (c. 1000 – 1551).
See Religion in Iceland
Related ethnic groups
Other Germanic peoples, especially Norwegians, Danes, Faroese Islanders


Icelanders have had a tumultuous history. Development of the island was slow due to a lack of interest from the countries controlling it for most of its history: Norway, Denmark–Norway, and ultimately Denmark. Through this time, Iceland had relatively little contact with the outside world.[11] The island became independent in personal union with the Kingdom of Denmark in 1918. Since 1944, Iceland has been a republic, and Icelandic society has undergone a rapid modernisation process in the post-independence era.


Iceland is a geologically young land mass, having formed an estimated 20 million years ago due to volcanic eruptions on the Mid-Atlantic ridge. One of the last larger islands to remain uninhabited, the first human settlement date is generally accepted to be 874 AD, although there is some evidence to suggest human activity prior to the Norse arrival.[12]

Initial migration and settlement

Iceland in Europe
Map showing Iceland in northern Europe

The first Viking to sight Iceland was Gardar Svavarsson, who went off course due to harsh conditions when sailing from Norway to the Faroe Islands. His reports led to the first efforts to settle the island. Flóki Vilgerðarson (b. 9th century) was the first Norseman to sail to Iceland intentionally. His story is documented in the Landnámabók manuscript, and he is said to have named the island Ísland (Iceland). The first permanent settler in Iceland is usually considered to have been a Norwegian chieftain named Ingólfur Arnarson. He settled with his family in around 874, at a place he named "Bay of Smokes", or Reykjavík in Icelandic.[13]

Following Ingólfur, and also in 874, another group of Norwegians set sail across the North Atlantic Ocean with their families, livestock, slaves, and possessions, escaping the domination of the first King of Norway, Harald Fairhair. They traveled 1,000 km (600 mi) in their Viking longships to the island of Iceland. These people were primarily of Norwegian, Irish or Gaelic Scottish origin. The Irish and the Scottish Gaels were either slaves or servants of the Norse chiefs, according to the Icelandic sagas, or descendants of a "group of Norsemen who had settled in Scotland and Ireland and intermarried with Gaelic-speaking people".[14] Genetic evidence suggests that approximately 62% of the Icelandic maternal gene pool is derived from Ireland and Scotland, which is much higher than other Scandinavian countries, although comparable to the Faroese, while 37% is of Nordic origin.[15] About 20-25% of the Icelandic paternal gene pool is of Gaelic origin, with the rest being Nordic.[16]

The Icelandic Age of Settlement (Icelandic: Landnámsöld) is considered to have lasted from 874 to 930, at which point most of the island had been claimed and the Alþingi (English: Althing), the assembly of the Icelandic Commonwealth, was founded at Þingvellir.[17]

Hardship and conflict

Rock of law in Þingvellir
Rock of law in Þingvellir was used to make speeches.

In 930, on the Þingvellir (English: Thingvellir) plain near Reykjavík, the chieftains and their families met and established the Alþingi, Iceland's first national assembly. However, the Alþingi lacked the power to enforce the laws it made. In 1262, struggles between rival chieftains left Iceland so divided that King Haakon IV of Norway was asked to step in as a final arbitrator for all disputes, as part of the Old Covenant. This is known as the Age of the Sturlungs.[18]

Iceland was under Norwegian leadership until 1380, when the Royal House of Norway died out. At this point, both Iceland and Norway came under the control of the Danish Crown. With the introduction of absolute monarchy in Denmark, the Icelanders relinquished their autonomy to the crown, including the right to initiate and consent to legislation. This meant a loss of independence for Iceland, which led to nearly 300 years of decline: perhaps largely because Denmark and its Crown did not consider Iceland to be a colony to be supported and assisted. In particular, the lack of help in defense led to constant raids by marauding pirates along the Icelandic coasts.[11]

Unlike Norway, Denmark did not need Iceland's fish and homespun wool. This created a dramatic deficit in Iceland's trade, and no new ships were built as a result. In 1602 Iceland was forbidden to trade with other countries by order of the Danish Government, and in the 18th century climatic conditions had reached an all-time low since Settlement.[11]

Lakagigar Iceland 2004-07-01
Laki erupted in 1783–84 with catastrophic consequences for Iceland.

In 1783–84 Laki, a volcanic fissure in the south of the island, erupted. The eruption produced about 15 km³ (3.6 mi³) of basalt lava, and the total volume of tephra emitted was 0.91 km³.[19] The aerosols that built up caused a cooling effect in the Northern Hemisphere. The consequences for Iceland were catastrophic, with approximately 25-33% of the population dying in the famine of 1783 and 1784. Around 80% of sheep, 50% of cattle, and 50% of horses died of fluorosis from the 8 million tons of fluorine that were released.[20] This disaster is known as the Mist Hardship (Icelandic: Móðuharðindin).

In 1798–99 the Alþingi was discontinued for several decades, eventually being restored in 1844. It was moved to Reykjavík, the capital, after being held at Þingvellir for over nine centuries.

Independence and prosperity

Statue of Jón Sigurðsson in Reykjavík

The 19th century brought significant improvement in the Icelanders' situation. A protest movement was led by Jón Sigurðsson, a statesman, historian, and authority on Icelandic literature. Inspired by the romantic and nationalist currents from mainland Europe, Jón protested strongly, through political journals and self-publications, for 'a return to national consciousness' and for political and social changes to be made to help speed up Iceland's development.[21]

In 1854, the Danish government relaxed the trade ban that had been imposed in 1602, and Iceland gradually began to rejoin Western Europe economically and socially. With this return of contact with other peoples came a reawakening of Iceland's arts, especially its literature. Twenty years later in 1874, Iceland was granted a constitution. Icelanders today recognize Jón's efforts as largely responsible for their economic and social resurgence.[21]

Iceland gained full sovereignty and independence from Denmark in 1918 after World War I. It became the Kingdom of Iceland. The King of Denmark also served as the King of Iceland but Iceland retained only formal ties with the Danish Crown. On 17 June 1944 the monarchy was abolished and a republic was established on what would have been Jón Sigurðsson's 133rd birthday. This ended nearly six centuries of ties with Denmark.[21]

Demographics and society


Hvalsey Church
The last written records of the Norse Greenlanders are from a 1408 marriage in Hvalsey Church – today the most well-preserved of the Norse ruins.

Due to their small founding population and history of relative isolation, Icelanders have often been considered highly genetically homogeneous as compared to other European populations. For this reason, along with the extensive genealogical records for much of the population that reach back to the settlement of Iceland, Icelanders have been the focus of considerable genomics research by both biotechnology companies and academic and medical researchers.[22][23] It was, for example, possible for researchers to reconstruct much of the maternal genome of Iceland's first known black inhabitant, Hans Jonatan, from the DNA of his present-day descendants partly because the distinctively African parts of his genome were unique in Iceland until very recent times.[24]

Genetic evidence shows that most DNA lineages found among Icelanders today can be traced to the settlement of Iceland, indicating that there has been relatively little immigration since. This evidence shows that the founder population of Iceland came from Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia: studies of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes indicate that 62% of Icelanders' matrilineal ancestry derives from Scotland and Ireland (with most of the rest being from Scandinavia), while 75% of their patrilineal ancestry derives from Scandinavia (with most of the rest being from the Irish and British Isles).[25] Despite Iceland's historical isolation, the genetic makeup of Icelanders today is still quite different from the founding population, due to founder effects and genetic drift.[26] One study found that the mean Norse ancestry among Iceland's settlers was 56%, whereas in the current population the figure was 70%.[27]

Other studies have identified other ancestries, however. One study of mitochondrial DNA, blood groups, and isozymes revealed a more variable population than expected, comparable to the diversity of some other Europeans.[28] Another study showed that a tiny proportion of samples of contemporary Icelanders carry a more distant lineage, which belongs to the haplogroup C1e, which can possibly be traced to the settlement of the Americas around 14,000 years ago. This hints a small proportion of Icelanders have some Native American ancestry arising from Norse colonization of Greenland and North America.[29]



Gimli1 mb
Gimli, Manitoba, pop. 5,720 (Statistics Canada, 2011) is home to the largest concentration of Icelanders outside of Iceland.

The first Europeans to emigrate to and settle in Greenland were Icelanders who did so under the leadership of Erik the Red in the late 10th century CE and numbered around 500 people. Isolated fjords in this harsh land offered sufficient grazing to support cattle and sheep, though the climate was too cold for cereal crops. Royal trade ships from Norway occasionally went to Greenland to trade for walrus tusks and falcons. The population eventually reached a high point of perhaps 3,000 in two communities and developed independent institutions before fading away during the 15th century.[30] A papal legation was sent there as late as 1492, the year Columbus attempted to find a shorter spice route to Asia but instead encountered the Americas.

North America

According to the Saga of Eric the Red, Icelandic immigration to North America dates back to Vinland circa 1006. The colony was believed to be short-lived and abandoned by the 1020s.[31] European settlement of the region was not archeologically and historically confirmed as more than legend until the 1960s. The former Norse site, now known as L'Anse aux Meadows, pre-dated the arrival of Colombus in the Americas by almost 500 years.

A more recent instance of Icelandic emigration to North America occurred in 1855, when a small group settled in Spanish Fork, Utah.[32] Another Icelandic colony formed in Washington Island, Wisconsin.[33] Immigration to the United States and Canada began in earnest in the 1870s, with most migrants initially settling in the Great Lakes area. These settlers were fleeing famine and overcrowding on Iceland.[34] Today, there are sizable communities of Icelandic descent in both the United States and Canada. Gimli, in Manitoba, Canada, is home to the largest population of Icelanders outside of the main island of Iceland.[35]


Retro Stefson - WAVES VIENNA2011 d
Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson, here playing with Retro Stefson, is a prominent Icelander with a foreign background.

From the mid-1990s, Iceland experienced rising immigration. By 2017 the population of first-generation immigrants (defined as people born abroad with both parents foreign-born and all grandparents foreign-born) stood at 35,997 (10.6% of residents), and the population of second-generation immigrants at 4,473. Correspondingly, the numbers of foreign-born people acquiring Icelandic citizenship are markedly higher than in the 1990s, standing at 703 in 2016.[36][37] Correspondingly, Icelandic identity is gradually shifting towards a more multicultural form.[38]


Language and literature

A poem from the Poetic Edda
Laxdæla saga - Kjartan died on the lap of Bolli
Kjartan Ólafsson and Bolli Þorleiksson, characters in Laxdæla saga, written in the 13th century.

Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is the official language of Iceland (de facto; the laws are silent about the issue). Icelandic has inflectional grammar comparable to Latin, Ancient Greek, more closely to Old English and practically identical to Old Norse.

Old Icelandic literature can be divided into several categories. Three are best known to foreigners: Eddic poetry, skaldic poetry, and saga literature, if saga literature is understood broadly. Eddic poetry is made up of heroic and mythological poems. Poetry that praises someone is considered skaldic poetry or court poetry. Finally, saga literature is prose, ranging from pure fiction to fairly factual history.[39]

Written Icelandic has changed little since the 13th century. Because of this modern readers can understand the Icelanders' sagas. The sagas tell of events in Iceland in the 10th and early 11th centuries. They are considered to be the best-known pieces of Icelandic literature.[40]

The elder or Poetic Edda, the younger or Prose Edda, and the sagas are the major pieces of Icelandic literature. The Poetic Edda is a collection of poems and stories from the late 10th century, whereas the younger or Prose Edda is a manual of poetry that contains many stories of Norse mythology.


Church in Húsavík, Iceland

Iceland embraced Christianity in c. AD 1000, in what is called the kristnitaka, and the country, while mostly secular in observance, is still predominantly Christian culturally. The Lutheran church claims some 84% of the total population.[41] While early Icelandic Christianity was more lax in its observances than traditional Catholicism, Pietism, a religious movement imported from Denmark in the 18th century, had a marked effect on the island. By discouraging all but religious leisure activities, it fostered a certain dourness, which was for a long time considered an Icelandic stereotype. At the same time, it also led to a boom in printing, and Iceland today is one of the most literate societies in the world.[21][42]

While Catholicism was supplanted by Protestantism during the Reformation, most other world religions are now represented on the island: there are small Protestant Free Churches and Catholic communities, and even a nascent Muslim community, composed of both immigrants and local converts. Perhaps unique to Iceland is the fast-growing Ásatrúarfélag, a legally recognized revival of the pre-Christian Nordic religion of the original settlers. According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Reykjavík, there were only approximately 30 Jews in Iceland as of 2001.[43] The former First Lady of Iceland Dorrit Moussaieff was an Israeli-born Bukharian Jew.


Icelandic cuisine consists mainly of fish, lamb, and dairy. Fish was once the main part of an Icelander's diet but has recently given way to meats such as beef, pork, and poultry.[20]

Iceland has many traditional foods called Þorramatur. These foods include smoked and salted lamb, singed sheep heads, dried fish, smoked and pickled salmon, and cured shark. Andrew Zimmern, a chef who has traveled the world on his show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, responded to the question "What's the most disgusting thing you've ever eaten?" with the response "That would have to be the fermented shark fin I had in Iceland." Fermented shark fin is a form of Þorramatur.[44]

Performance art

Jón Þór Birgisson at the Roskilde Festival in 2006
Sigur Rós has gained international fame performing mostly in Icelandic.

The earliest indigenous Icelandic music was the rímur, epic tales from the Viking era that were often performed a cappella. Christianity played a major role in the development of Icelandic music, with many hymns being written in the local idiom. Hallgrímur Pétursson, a poet and priest, is noted for writing many of these hymns in the 17th century. The island's relative isolation ensured that the music maintained its regional flavor. It was only in the 19th century that the first pipe organs, prevalent in European religious music, first appeared on the island.[45]

Many singers, groups, and forms of music have come from Iceland. Most Icelandic music contains vibrant folk and pop traditions. Some more recent groups and singers are Voces Thules, The Sugarcubes, Björk, Sigur Rós, and Of Monsters and Men.

The national anthem is "Ó Guð vors lands" (English: "Our Country's God"), written by Matthías Jochumsson, with music by Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson. The song was written in 1874, when Iceland celebrated its one thousandth anniversary of settlement on the island. It was originally published with the title A Hymn in Commemoration of Iceland's Thousand Years.[45]


Iceland's men's national football team participated in their first FIFA World Cup in 2018, after reaching the quarter finals of its first major international tournament, UEFA Euro 2016. The women's national football team has yet to reach a World Cup; its best result at a major international event was a quarterfinal finish in UEFA Women's Euro 2013. The country's first Olympic participation was in the 1912 Summer Olympics; however, they did not participate again until the 1936 Summer Olympics. Their first appearance at the Winter Games was at the 1948 Winter Olympics. In 1956, Vilhjálmur Einarsson won the Olympic silver medal for the triple jump.[46] The Icelandic national handball team has enjoyed relative success. The team received a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games and a 3rd place at the 2010 European Men's Handball Championship.

See also


  1. ^ "Icelander". Joshua Project. Archived from the original on 19 February 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  2. ^ Number of Icelandic citizens in Iceland Archived 2010-11-13 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables - Ethnic Origin (264), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3), Generation Status (4), Age Groups (10) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey". Canada 2011 Census. Statistics Canada. Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  4. ^ "Census 2000 ACS Ancestry" Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i World Migration Archived 2016-10-03 at the Wayback Machine. International organization for migration.
  6. ^ "Iceland country brief". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Populations by religious and life stance organizations 1998-2016". Reykjavík, Iceland: Statistics Iceland..
  8. ^ Minahan 2000, p. 769
  9. ^ "Icelanders, a diverse bunch?". Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  10. ^ Helgason, A; Sigureth; Nicholson, J; et al. (September 2000). "Estimating Scandinavian and Gaelic ancestry in the male settlers of Iceland". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 67 (3): 697–717. doi:10.1086/303046. PMC 1287529. PMID 10931763.
  11. ^ a b c Fiske et al., 1972, p. 5
  12. ^ Jónsson et al., 1991, pp. 17-23
  13. ^ Þórðarson, c. 1200
  14. ^ Fiske et al., 1972, p. 4
  15. ^ "Icelandic Women are of Scots descent". Electricscotland.lcom. 2001-03-04. Archived from the original on 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  16. ^ "Why people in Iceland look just like us". Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  17. ^ Þorgilsson, c. 1100
  18. ^ Byock, 1990
  19. ^ Global Volcanism Program, 2007
  20. ^ a b Stone, 2004
  21. ^ a b c d Fiske et al., 1972, p. 6
  22. ^ Chadwick, R. (1999). "The Icelandic database—do modern times need modern sagas?". BMJ. 319 (7207): 441–444. doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7207.441. PMC 1127047. PMID 10445931.
  23. ^ Gísli Pálsson, 'The Web of Kin: An Online Genealogical Machine', in Kinship and Beyond: The Genealogical Model Reconsidered, ed. by Sandra C. Bamford, James Leach, Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality, 15 (Berghahn Books, 2009), pp. 84-110 (pp. 100-103).
  24. ^ Anuradha Jagadeesan and others, 'Reconstructing an African Haploid Genome from the 18th Century', Nature Genetics, 50(2) (2018), 199–205 doi:10.1038/s41588-017-0031-6.
  25. ^ S. Sunna Ebenesersdóttir and others, 'Ancient Genomes from Iceland Reveal the Making of a Human Population', Science 360(6392) (2018), 1028–32 (p. 1028) doi:10.1126/science.aar2625.
  26. ^ Helgason et al., 2000
  27. ^ S. Sunna Ebenesersdóttir and others, 'Ancient Genomes from Iceland Reveal the Making of a Human Population', Science 360(6392) (2018), 1028–32 (p. 1030) doi:10.1126/science.aar2625.
  28. ^ Árnason et al., 2000
  29. ^ Sigríður Sunna Ebenesardóttir; et al. (10 November 2010). "A new subclade of mtDNA haplogroup C1 found in Icelanders: Evidence of pre-Columbian contact?". Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 144 (1): 92–9. doi:10.1002/ajpa.21419. PMID 21069749.
  30. ^ Tomasson, pp. 405-406.
  31. ^ Jackson, May 1925, pp. 680-681.
  32. ^ Jackson, May 1925, p. 681.
  33. ^ "Island History and Culture". Washington Island. 1996. Archived from the original on 2016-06-11. Retrieved 2016-06-16.
  34. ^ Library of Congress, 2004
  35. ^ Vanderhill, 1963
  36. ^ Kristín Loftsdóttir, “Being ‘the Damned Foreigner’: Affective National Sentiments and Racialization of Lithuanians in Iceland.Nordic Journal of Migration Research 7.2 (2017): 70–77 (p. 72) doi:10.1515/njmr-2017-0012.
  37. ^ 'Immigrants and persons with foreign background 2017' (16 June 2017).
  38. ^ Gunnar J. Gunnarsson, Gunnar E. Finnbogason, Hanna Ragnarsdóttir and Halla Jónsdóttir. “Friendship, Diversity and Fear: Young People’s Life Views and Life Values in a Multicultural Society.” Nordidactica: Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education (2015 part 2): 94–113.
  39. ^ Lahelma et al., 1994–96
  40. ^ Lovgren, 2004, p. 2
  41. ^ Jochens, 1999, p. 621
  42. ^ Del Giudice, 2008
  43. ^ Roman Catholic Diocese of Reykjavík, 2005.
  44. ^ Beale et al., 2004
  45. ^ a b Fiske et al., 1972, p. 9
  46. ^ Fiske et al., 1972, p. 7


External links

Christmas in Iceland

Christmas in Iceland (or Yule) starts four Sundays before Christmas proper, which begins on December 24 (Advent) and ends thirteen days later on January 6. Traditionally, one candle is lit each Sunday until four candles are lit on the 24th. At 6:00 pm Church bells ring to start the Christmas celebration. The religiously observant and/or traditional Icelanders will attend mass at this time while the secular Icelanders will begin their holiday meal immediately. After the meal is finished, they open gifts and spend the evening together. In Iceland people over the Yule holidays most often eat smoked lamb, ptarmigan and turkey. Pork is also very popular.

Thirteen days before December 24 the Yule Lads children will leave their shoes by the window so that the Yule Lads can leave small gifts in their shoes. The Yule Lads are the sons of two trolls living in the Icelandic mountains. Each of the Yule Lads is known for a different kind of mischief (for example slamming doors, stealing meat, stealing milk or eating the candles). The Yule Lads traditionally wear early Icelandic wool clothing but are now known for the more recognizable red and white suit.

Each home typically sets up a Christmas tree indoors in the living room with most decorating it on December 11. In addition to the decorations, presents are put underneath the tree. It is also a tradition in many homes to boil skate on the 23rd. The day is called Saint Thorlak Mass (Þorláksmessa).

During the holiday season, it is traditional for families to work together to bake small cookies to serve or give to guests. Most common are thin gingerbread cookies which are decorated in many different colors of glaze. Many families also follow the tradition of making Laufabrauð (Leafbread), which is a flat thin bread that is cut out using a special tool and folding technique.

The end of year is divided between two days – the Old Year's Day (Gamlársdagur) and the New Year's Day (Nýársdagur). At the night of the former and morning of the latter Icelanders shoot up fireworks blowing the old year away and welcoming the new one.

Thirteen days after the 24th Icelanders say goodbye to the Yule Lads and other mystical creatures such as elves and trolls. There are bonfires held throughout the country while the elves, Yule Lads, and Icelanders dance together before saying goodbye until the next Christmas. This celebration is known elsewhere as Epiphany Day.


Glenboro is an unincorporated urban community in the Municipality of Glenboro – South Cypress within the Canadian province of Manitoba that held village status prior to January 1, 2015. it is located about 80 km southeast of the City of Brandon. In the 2001 census it had a population of 656. The community is a service centre for the surrounding farming community.

Glenboro is the home of "Sara the camel", a 17′ statue created in October 1978, by Mr. George Berone of Berone Sculptures in Winnipeg. "Sara" is emblematic of the nearby Spirit Sands, and has been used to promote the Glenboro area and nearby Spruce Woods Provincial Park.

Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls

Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls (listen ) is one of the sagas of Icelanders. It is a late saga, composed in the 15th or 16th century. It survives in 17th century manuscripts.

Heiðarvíga saga

Heiðarvíga saga (listen ) or The Story of the Heath-Slayings is one of the Icelanders' sagas. It is badly preserved; 12 leaves of the only surviving manuscript were destroyed along with their only copy in the fire of Copenhagen in 1728. The content of that part is only known through a summary written from memory by Jón Grunnvíkingur who had made the lost copy.

The saga has been taken by some scholars as possibly among the oldest Icelanders' sagas.


Iceland (Icelandic: Ísland [ˈistlant]) is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 348,580 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

According to the ancient manuscript Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in 874 AD when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent settler on the island. In the following centuries, Norwegians, and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians, emigrated to Iceland, bringing with them thralls (i.e., slaves or serfs) of Gaelic origin. The island was governed as an independent commonwealth under the Althing, one of the world's oldest functioning legislative assemblies. Following a period of civil strife, Iceland acceded to Norwegian rule in the 13th century. The establishment of the Kalmar Union in 1397 united the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Iceland thus followed Norway's integration into that union, coming under Danish rule after Sweden's secession from the union in 1523. Although the Danish kingdom introduced Lutheranism forcefully in 1550, Iceland remained a distant semi-colonial territory in which Danish institutions and infrastructures were conspicuous by their absence. In the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Iceland's struggle for independence took form and culminated in independence in 1918 and the founding of a republic in 1944. Until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on subsistence fishing and agriculture, and was among the poorest countries in Europe. Industrialisation of the fisheries and Marshall Plan aid following World War II brought prosperity and Iceland became one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 1994, it became a part of the European Economic Area, which further diversified the economy into sectors such as finance, biotechnology, and manufacturing.

Iceland has a market economy with relatively low taxes, compared to other OECD countries. It maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. Iceland ranks high in economic, democratic, social stability, and equality, currently ranking first in the world by median wealth per adult. In 2018, it was ranked as the sixth most developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index, and it ranks first on the Global Peace Index. Iceland runs almost completely on renewable energy. Hit hard by the worldwide financial crisis, the nation's entire banking system systemically failed in October 2008, leading to a severe depression, substantial political unrest, the Icesave dispute, and the institution of capital controls. Some bankers were jailed. Since then, the economy has made a significant recovery, in large part due to a surge in tourism. A law that took effect in 2018 makes it illegal in Iceland for women to be paid less than men.Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation's Scandinavian heritage. Most Icelanders are descendants of Norse and Gaelic settlers. Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is descended from Old West Norse and is closely related to Faroese and West Norwegian dialects. The country's cultural heritage includes traditional Icelandic cuisine, Icelandic literature, and medieval sagas. Iceland has the smallest population of any NATO member and is the only one with no standing army, with a lightly armed coast guard.

Icelandic Americans

Icelandic Americans are Americans of Icelandic descent or Iceland-born people who reside in the United States. Icelandic immigrants came to the United States primarily in the period 1873–1905 and after World War II. There are more than 40,000 Icelandic Americans according to the 2000 U.S. census, and most live in the Upper Midwest. The United States is home to the second largest Icelandic diaspora community in the world after Canada.

Icelandic name

Icelandic names differ from most current Western family name systems by being patronymic or occasionally matronymic: they indicate the father (or mother) of the child and not the historic family lineage. Iceland shares a common cultural heritage with the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands. Icelanders, however, unlike other Nordics, have continued to use their traditional name system, which was formerly used by all Nordic countries except partly Finland. The Icelandic system is thus not based on family names (although some people do have family names and might use both systems). Generally, a person's second name indicates the first name of their father (patronymic) or in some cases mother (matronymic). According to Icelandic naming tradition, second names end in -son or -dóttir with few exceptions.

Some family names do exist in Iceland, most commonly adaptations from last name patronyms Icelanders took up when living abroad, usually Denmark. Notable Icelanders who have an inherited family name include former prime minister Geir Haarde, football star Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen, entrepreneur Magnús Scheving, film director Baltasar Kormákur Samper, actress Anita Briem and member of parliament (and former news reporter) Elín Hirst. Before 1925, it was legal to adopt new family names; one Icelander to do so was the Nobel Prize-winning author Halldór Laxness, while another author, Einar Hjörleifsson and his brothers all chose the family name "Kvaran". Since 1925, one cannot adopt a family name unless one explicitly has a legal right to do so through inheritance. (The law was amended in 1991 and 1996.)

First names not previously used in Iceland must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee (Icelandic: Mannanafnanefnd) before being used. The criterion for acceptance of names is whether they can be easily incorporated into the Icelandic language. With some exceptions, they must contain only letters found in the Icelandic alphabet (including þ and ð), and it must be possible to decline the name according to the language's grammatical case system, which in practice means that a genitive form can be constructed in accordance with Icelandic rules.

Gender-inappropriate names are normally not allowed; however, in January 2013, a 15-year-old girl named Blær (a masculine noun in Icelandic) was allowed to keep this name in a court decision that overruled an initial rejection by the naming committee. Her mother Björk Eiðsdóttir did not realize at the time that Blær was considered masculine; she had read a novel by Halldór Laxness, The Fish Can Sing (1957), that had an admirable female character named Blær, meaning "light breeze", and had decided that if she had a daughter, she would name her Blær.

Kjalnesinga saga

Kjalnesinga saga (listen ) is one of the sagas of Icelanders.

Nobility in Iceland

Nobility in Iceland (Icelandic: aðall; Norwegian: adel) may refer to the following:

Icelanders who belonged to the aristocracy of the Icelandic Republic.

Icelanders who belonged to the Norwegian nobility.

Icelanders who belonged to the Danish nobility.

Religion in Iceland

Religion in Iceland has been predominantly Christian since its adoption as the state religion by the Althing under the influence of Olaf Tryggvason, the king of Norway, in 999/1000 CE. Before that, between the 9th and 10th century, the prevailing religion among the early Icelanders (mostly Norwegian settlers fleeing Harald Fairhair's monarchical centralisation in 872–930) was the northern Germanic religion, which persisted for centuries even after the official Christianisation of the state.

Starting in the 1530s, Iceland, originally Catholic and under the Danish crown, formally switched to Lutheranism with the Icelandic Reformation, which culminated in 1550. The Lutheran Church of Iceland has remained since then the country's state church. Freedom of religion has been granted to the Icelanders since 1874. The Church of Iceland is supported by the government, but all registered religions receive support from a church tax (sóknargjald) paid by taxpayers over the age of sixteen.Since the late 20th century, and especially the early 21st century, religious life in Iceland has become more diverse, with a decline of Christianity, the rise of unaffiliated people, and the emergence of new religions, notably Heathenry, in Iceland also called Ásatrú, which seeks to reconstruct the Germanic folk religion. A large part of the population remain members of the Church of Iceland, but are actually irreligious and atheists, as demonstrated by demoscopic analyses.

Reykdæla saga ok Víga-Skútu

Reykdæla saga ok Víga-Skútu or Reykdæla saga og Víga-Skútu (listen ) is one of the sagas of Icelanders.

Rural Municipality of Lakeview

The Rural Municipality of Lakeview is a former rural municipality (RM) in the Canadian province of Manitoba. It was originally incorporated as a rural municipality on April 10, 1920. It ceased on January 1, 2015 as a result of its provincially mandated amalgamation with the RM of Westbourne and the Town of Gladstone to form the Municipality of WestLake – Gladstone.Located on the west shore of Lake Manitoba, the first immigrants to the area that became the RM were from Iceland. The RM's first Council included: Magnus Peterson, G.W. Langdon (reeve), Jas. M. Birnie, John Arksey, Alf W. Law, George Hall and Earl E. Davidson.


Sagas are stories mostly about ancient Nordic and Germanic history, early Viking voyages, the battles that took place during the voyages, and migration to Iceland and of feuds between Icelandic families. They were written in the Old Norse language, mainly in Iceland.The texts are tales in prose which share some similarities with the epic, often with stanzas or whole poems in alliterative verse embedded in the text, of heroic deeds of days long gone, "tales of worthy men," who were often Vikings, sometimes pagan, sometimes Christian. The tales are usually realistic, except legendary sagas, sagas of saints, sagas of bishops and translated or recomposed romances. They are sometimes romanticised and fantastic.

Sagas of Icelanders

Not to be confused with The saga of Icelanders (Íslendinga saga) which is based on historical events from the 13th century.

The Sagas of Icelanders (Icelandic: Íslendingasögur), also known as family sagas, are prose narratives mostly based on historical events that mostly took place in Iceland in the 9th, 10th, and early 11th centuries, during the so-called Saga Age. They are the best-known specimens of Icelandic literature.

They are focused on history, especially genealogical and family history. They reflect the struggle and conflict that arose within the societies of the early generations of Icelandic settlers.Eventually many of these Icelandic sagas were recorded, mostly in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The 'authors', or rather recorders of these sagas are unknown. One saga, Egils saga, is believed by some scholars to have been written by Snorri Sturluson, a descendant of the saga's hero, but this remains uncertain. The standard modern edition of Icelandic sagas is known as Íslenzk fornrit.

Svarfdæla saga

Svarfdæla saga (listen ) is one of the sagas of Icelanders.

Valla-Ljóts saga

Valla-Ljóts saga (listen ) is one of the sagas of Icelanders.


Íslendingabók (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈistlɛntiŋkaˌpouk], Old Norse pronunciation: [ˈiːslɛndɪŋgaˌboːk], Book of Icelanders; Latin: Libellus Islandorum) is a historical work dealing with early Icelandic history. The author was an Icelandic priest, Ari Þorgilsson, working in the early 12th century. The work originally existed in two different versions but only the younger one has survived. The older contained information on Norwegian kings, made use of by later writers of kings' sagas.

The priest Jón Erlendsson in Villingaholt (died 1672) in the service of bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson made two copies of Íslendingabók (now AM 113 a fol and AM 113 b fol at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies), the latter one because the bishop was unhappy with the first version. The original copied from is assumed to have dated to ca. 1200. It was lost in the course of the late 17th century, and when Árni Magnússon looked for it, it had disappeared without a trace.

Þorsteins saga Síðu-Hallssonar

Þorsteins saga Síðu-Hallssonar (listen ) is one of the sagas of Icelanders.


The þættir (Old Norse singular þáttr, literally meaning a "strand" of rope or yarn) are short stories written mostly in Iceland during the 13th and 14th centuries.

The majority of þættir occur in two compendious manuscripts, Morkinskinna and Flateyjarbók, and within them most are found as digressions within kings' sagas. Sverrir Tómasson regards those in Morkinskinna, at least, as exempla or illustrations inseparable from the narratives that contain them, filling out the picture of the kings' qualities, good and bad, as well as adding comic relief.

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