Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world’s oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930. Iceland has the most active volcano area in the world, the largest waterfall and glacier in Europe, the northern most botanical garden and golf course in the world, the cleanest capital in the world, a population with the longest life expectancy, and had the first democratically elected female president in the world, Mrs. Vigdis Finnbogadottir (in office 1980-93). She remains the longest serving, elected female head of state of any country.
Did You Know?
- Iceland was treeless for the better part of the last century. Today, the country plants more trees per person that any other nation.
- Iceland’s telephone book is listed by first name.
- Icelander, Lief the Lucky discovered America nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus.
- In the 1960s and 70s there was a dispute between Iceland and the UK over fishing grounds known as the “Cod Wars”.
- Geologically, Iceland is the youngest country. It only began to rise from the North Atlantic seabed about 25 million years ago. The newest of its islands formed via volcanic eruption in 1963.
- Icelandic is he closest, of other Germanic languages, to Old Norse. Who knew? Professional translators who are fluent in Icelandic can also, without much difficulty, read Old Norse