Iceland is not only a remote island up north of the Atlantic Ocean, it is also a very new country in both geological terms as well as in the political field. This tiny country was one of the last places on earth to become a colony. Do you want to discover how Iceland went from colony to sovereign nation? Well, today in this article we will learn about Iceland’s Independence Day.
The Nordic island is the result of the forces of nature. It is right in the middle of two tectonic plates and one of the most active volcano areas in the world. The lava these volcanoes expelled turned into solid rock, and into the beautiful land we know today. Iceland remained uninhabited for centuries and was discovered by accident. People did not have GPS back then unfortunately.
Iceland’s Independence Day – Who Discovered Iceland?
Our sources for this story are in the Landnámabók or Book of the Settlements as well as in the Íslendingabók, Book of the Icelanders. These books narrate the story of how the Norseman discovered this land while they were exploring the North Atlantic Ocean.
Back in the 9th Century, a Norwegian Viking called Naddod was sailing to the Faroe Islands but he got lost on the way. He then drifted away and the currents took him to a deserted island that happened to be Iceland. As he saw no sign of human life, he decided to embark and continue his journey to the Faroe Islands.
The settlement of Iceland then begins around the year 870 when many Norsemen took their personal belongings and family to their new home.
Iceland’s Independence Day – Administration and ruling of the Island
We will now fast-forward from the initial settlement to 930. When the Island was already under the rule of Þorsteinn Ingólfsson, the son of Ingólfr Arnarson, the first Norse settler and a leader back in his homeland, Norway.
According to the Book of the Icelanders, Þorsteinn was the first Allsherjargoði, which was an office and political position in the Icelandic Commonwealth. Þorsteinn and other main chieftains then created the Althing, the first parliament in the world in Thingvellir National Park. Iceland was already independent by this point. So, how come Iceland celebrates an independence day if it was an independent nation already?
As most of Iceland’s chieftains came from Norway, the political relationship between both nations was very tight. Due to the tough circumstances of the settlement, the island slowly started to depend on Norway for commerce, protection and management. In 1380, the Danish and Norwegian kingdoms became one. Therefore, Iceland was now under the rule of the Danish crown.
Iceland’s Independence Day – A Sovereign Nation
Iceland was a remote colony, so the Danish government never really paid much attention to the Icelander’s needs. In 1602, they imposed tough and strict market laws for Iceland that did not benefit the island whatsoever. The introduction of absolutism in 1662 and the now reduced legislative powers of the Althing created tension between Iceland and Denmark.
Rebel movements then started in the Nordic island, which was one of the poorest countries in Europe, but it was not until 1874 when Iceland managed to create a constitution. Independence of the country was proposed in 1918 with the Act of Union. That Act would be corroborated on June 17th, 1944. Iceland then became a fully independent republic from Denmark.
Iceland’s Independence Day – A Journey Full of Celebrations
Iceland’s Independence Day – a Day to Celebrate
June 17th is the day when Icelanders commemorate the foundation of the Republic of Iceland. There are parades, poem recitals and music all throughout Iceland. Thousands of candies are given to the kids and there are balloons are everywhere!
In this day, the beautiful Fjallkonan plays a prominent role. Fjalkonan means woman of the mountains and is the national personification of Iceland. It represents the country’s virtues and desires of an independent land.