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 genetics 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 Spaasky 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.

Read Inside the Reykjavik Art Museum

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

27 Responses to “I is for Iceland”

  • I remember the newsreaders and reporters struggling to pronounce of Eeyah.. Ayer… – the name of that volcano and this video admonition.

  • Meryl says:

    Great post. I also always laugh at the naming of Iceland which is so verdant and Greenland which is…not! I’d love to visit Iceland at some point, but that will have to wait. Have a great week.

  • I think my post for I will also be a country, unless I come up with another idea before tomorrow. Iceland is yet another country I would like to have the opportunity to visit.

  • Carver says:

    Interesting post. I’ve always found the names of Iceland and Greenland interesting since childhood.

  • Reykjavik population: 117,721 Greater Reykjavík area population: 195,970 Population and Language Population: 312,872 (1st Dec.. 2007). Population density per square kilometre: 2.8. Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe (seventh in the world). Most of the people are of Norwegian descent, with some admixture of Celtic blood from those who came from Ireland and the Scottish islands from the time of settlement.

  • Lisa says:

    A fascinating country, but one I’ll probably never see in person. Thanks for the fun facts.

  • photowannabe says:

    I appreciate all your research that you put into each post Roger.
    Thanks for telling us about the fascinating countries of Iceland and Greenland.

  • Joy says:

    What no Bjork on your list! I remember her doing a stunning music video of Iceland, unfortunately I can’t find it on the net, only Joga, which I must admit is pretty good. Amazing place.

  • Wanda says:

    Very good article, Roger. My best friends daughter’s Mother and Father in Law are in Iceland. They have visited and loved the country.

    BTW, the Ice that I buy in the Beverage Ice Packs, doesn’t stick together!! It’s great, just shake my little container, and they are ready for the glass.

  • Andy says:

    Roger the educator!! We can always learn something from you sir.

  • VioletSky says:

    I stopped in Reykjavik airport once and have vowed to return to see the rest of the country… someday.

  • Ann says:

    Great lessons learned today. I’d like to visit these countries too.

  • Jaquandor says:

    I had a professor in college who was from Iceland! Fascinating fellow. He had a lot of interesting stories from his homeland.

  • Fantastic post! I love reading about countries and Iceland is such an interesting place! Your post made me want to go and explore it right away! 🙂

  • What I remember as a kid about Iceland was when we received a postcard from my brother who was at that time with the US Navy informing us that he had just arrived in Iceland and will be stationed there.

  • Rose says:

    Thanks for this informative post Roger!

    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

  • Gattina says:

    Would never go up there although it’s not that far ! too cold !!
    ABC Team

  • magiceye says:

    Interesting information about Iceland.
    Thank you

  • I used to have a neighbor whose family hailed from Iceland-great round up of geography, Roger!

  • September 12th, 2012
    Hi Roger,
    Excellent post about Iceland. I lived there for about four or five months many years ago.
    I haven’t had time to play ABC-Wednesday, but happened to see the Icelandic flag. Your posts are always worth reading!
    Best wishes,
    Maybe I’ll play next week!

  • Christine says:

    Really educational post. Thank you, Roger! I have heard how beautiful it is; I’d like to bathe in one of those natural hot springs.

  • ann nz says:

    I had a student from Iceland, she learn very fast and wanted to be in Drama.

  • Maybe someday I’ll go to Iceland to visit the grave of Bobby Fischer, who returned there to die. Maybe.

  • Sara says:

    Greetings Roger! Iceland would be a fascinating place to visit one day. Though I’m not sure I’d feel quite safe living there on such a small island with so much volcanic activity…

  • Cheri says:

    I had never heard the theory that Iceland/Greenland were named with ulterior motives, but I think I shall choose to believe it now; it’s a more interesting naming convention than the apparent truth.

    There are lots of places I’d like to visit some day, including this one. So many places, so little money.

  • ChrisJ says:

    I think Iceland would be a wonderful place to visit and I’d love to see all the volcanic activity. I might even like to live there except for their dark winter nights. The long summer evenings would be nice but I’m not sure I could endure so many hours of darkness.For a start, trying to draw and paint in artificial light is very difficult and that’s what I’d want to do to while away the hours.

  • Suzy NZ says:

    I remember the Spaasky – Fischer games. I was a little kid, and my dad and I would follow them. Brought back a great memory of my dad.

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