Iceland – unique island with a great vision
Article by Dagur Jonsson
Iceland is an island just about the size of Kentucky State. This small sized island lies in the northern direction in the Atlantic Ocean just east to Greenland and it also touches the Arctic Circle. The land of Iceland is also famous as it is one of the most aggressive volcanic regions of the world. More than thirteen percent of Iceland’s total land is covered by glaciers or are snowfields. Major part of Iceland’s total population inhibits only in the seven percent part of the island because that seven percent land is considered a very fertile coastland. The gulf stream of Atlantic Ocean keeps the climate of the Iceland milder and temperature very moderate than what is expected in an island around Arctic Circle.
It is believed that the first inhabitants of Iceland were the hermits from Ireland. These hermits vacated this island when pagan Norse people arrived here in ninth century. A constitution was formed in 930 A.D and a democracy and a parliament was formed which is also known as Althing. Now Althing has the honor to be the world’s oldest still running legislative assembly. The history of Iceland is very well preserved in the Icelandic sagas written during 13th century.
In the year 1262, Iceland was occupied by Norwegian rule and was further given to the ultimate control of Denmark through the very famous ‘the kalmar union’ in which kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Denmark united in 1397. In the year, 1874, Iceland gained their own constitution and then in 1918, Denmark recognized Iceland as a separate country and unlimited sovereignty through the act of union. By this time also, Iceland was partially under the rule of Danish monarchy. During the Second World War when Germany attacked on Denmark first the British troops and then the American troops landed in Iceland and used it as the strategic air base. According to historians, neutral Iceland supported its allies through out the war. On June 17th, 1944, after the official referendum Iceland was declared independent republic and the Althing also proclaimed it as an independent republic.
Iceland joined NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] in 1949 and its maiden American air force base in 1951. In 1971 it was recognized by EFTA [European Free Trade Association]. In the year 1972, Iceland extended its fishing coastline to 200 nautical miles from 3 nautical miles. This was done without the consent of England. For this reason both Iceland and England were trapped in the dispute known as the cold wars. This dispute ended in 1976 with England agreeing to the new fishing borders of Iceland. In the year 1980, Iceland made yet another history, when it became the first country in the world to have a woman president in the office of the presidency. It was the case of the year 1990, when after the recession the economy and the financial condition of Iceland stabilized.
Iceland refused to sign the agreement which stated that moratorium of commercial whaling will continue as it was since 1986. This incident took place in the meeting of the International Whaling Commission in 2001. Finally in 2003, Iceland agreed on the initialization of hunting of whales for researches and experiments.
About the Author
Dagur Jonsson is the editor of Iceland Guest, a website specializing in tourist information for travelers to Iceland. For more information visit www.icelandguest.com