There were two things that particularly fascinated me about Iceland, one as a child, the other as an adult. The childhood recollection is that the explorers named Greenland and Iceland as they did to throw others off about the beauty of Iceland. Apparently, this was not true. Still, despite its latitude, Iceland is relatively moderate in temperature because of the Gulf Stream.
The other is that the population is so relatively homogenous that scientists believe Iceland’s population, a mixture of descendants of Norwegians and Celts, should make it a good place to investigate the genetic factors involved in human disease, although the project was not without controversy.
Here’s what the US State Department has to say about the country:
Iceland was settled in the late 9th and early 10th centuries… In 930 A.D., the ruling chiefs established a republican constitution and an assembly called the Althingi (Alþingi), the oldest parliament in the world. Iceland remained independent until 1262 when it entered into a treaty establishing a union with the Norwegian monarchy. Iceland was then passed to Denmark in the late 14th century when Norway and Denmark were united under the Danish crown.
… In 1874, Denmark granted Iceland limited home rule, which was expanded in scope in 1904. The constitution, written in 1874, was revised in 1903. The Act of Union, a 1918 agreement with Denmark, recognized Iceland as a fully sovereign state united with Denmark under a common king. Iceland established its own flag, but Denmark continued to represent Icelandic foreign affairs and defense interests.
The area of Iceland is 103,000 sq. km. (39,600 sq. mi.); “about the size of Virginia or slightly larger than Ireland.” Population (January 1, 2011) was 318,452, less than half of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY, metropolitan area.
I also associate Iceland with:
In chess, Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972; see this video
The Reykjavik summit meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev on October 11-12, 1986 over nuclear weapons.
The fact that Reykjavik is the northernmost capital of a sovereign state.
The abundant amount of volcanic activity. The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull – easy for YOU to say – closed airports in Europe, hundreds of miles away.