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Iceland History Timeline

Iceland's Information

Flag of Iceland
Land Area 100,250 km2
Water Area 2,750 km2
Total Area 103,000km2 (#106)
Population 335,878 (#177)
Population Density 3.35/km2
Government Type Parliamentary Republic
GDP (PPP) $16.15 Billion
GDP Per Capita $48,100
Currency Krona (ISK)
Largest Cities
800's – 900's
  • (850-875) First Viking settlers arrived, brought Irish slaves
  • (930) Icelandic Commonwealth founded; world's first parliament, Althing, was established
  • (985) Icelandic explorers discovered Greenland
  • (986) Erik the Red took settlers from Iceland to colonize Greenland
1000's – 1400's
  • (1000) Iceland adopted Christianity
  • (1085) Isleifur Gissurarson first bishop of Iceland
  • (1262) Icelanders became subjects of King of Norway
  • (1380) Norway and Iceland under Denmark's control
  • (1402) Bubonic plague hit Iceland, killed half the population
  • (1413) Iceland used dried fish for money
  • (1494) Second bubonic plague hit Iceland, killed half the population
1500's – 1800's
  • (1550) Bishop Jon Arason and sons beheaded in Skalholt, final victory of the Lutheran Reformation in Iceland
  • (1602) King of Denmark granted Danish merchants monopoly on trade with Iceland, continued for about 200 years
  • (1700's) First Icelandic census; bubonic plague spread in Iceland, quarter of the population died; Icelanders exported salted fish to Spain; volcanic eruption destroyed much of the livestock, caused famine; Danish trade monopoly ended
  • (1783) Volcanic eruption killed over 15,000, population was reduced from 50,000 to 35,000
  • (1800) Althing dissolved by royal decree, replaced by supreme court
  • (1814) Norway entered union with Sweden; Iceland remained under Danish rule
  • (1845) Althing re-established as consultative body, met in Reykjavik
  • (1848) Denmark's monarch renounced his absolute power; Denmark prepared to become a representative democracy
  • (1848) Danish Trade monopoly lifted, Iceland had complete freedom of trade
  • (1874) Constitution granted to Iceland
  • (1904) Iceland won home rule
  • (1917) Women won right to vote in national elections
  • (1918) Iceland became a self-ruled state; Denmark retained control over foreign affairs only
  • (1940) German forces occupied Denmark; British forces occupied Iceland
  • (1941) U.S. took over defense of Iceland, replaced British occupation forces
  • (1943) Treaty of Union with Denmark ran out; Denmark still occupied by Nazi Germany
  • (1944) Iceland became independent republic, severed last ties to Denmark; Sveinn Bjornsson first president
  • (1958) First "Cod War" occurred when Iceland extended fishing limit to 19 kilometers
  • (1970) Iceland joined European Free Trade Association
  • (1972) Fishing limits extended to 80 kilometers; renewed confrontation with Britain
  • (1973) Massive volcanic eruption on Heimaey formed Eldfell (fire mountain), lava flowed for six months
  • (1975) Third "Cod War" took place when Iceland extended fishing limit to 320 kilometers
  • (1980) Vigdis Finnbogadottir became first women president of Iceland; Iceland suffered from high inflation, averaged 38% annually
  • (1985) Iceland declared itself a nuclear-free zone
  • (1991) David Oddsson elected prime minister
  • (1992) Iceland left International Whaling Commission in protest over a resolution passed to outlaw commercial whaling
  • (1996) Olafur Ragnar Grimsson elected president; gay marriages legalized in Iceland
  • (2000) Mount Hekla volcano erupted in the region outside Reykjavik
  • (2001) Iceland applied to rejoin IWC, granted only observer status after a 12-year gap
  • (2002) Iceland readmitted to IWC as full member
  • (2003) David Oddsson re-elected prime minister; Iceland embarked on its first whale hunt in 15 years, government stated the hunt was conducted to study the mammals' impact on fish stocks
  • (2004) Olafur Ragnar Grimsson re-elected president; Halldor Asgrimson took over as prime minister of Iceland; Grimsvotn volcano erupted, scattered ash as far away as Finland
  • (2006) Prime Minister Halldor Asgrimsson resigned; succeeded by Geir Haarde; the United States Army abandoned the military base in Keflavik, ended a 55-year U.S. military presence in Iceland
  • (2007) Iceland and Norway agreed to expand defense cooperation, helped secure future shipments of oil and gas
  • (2008) US-born world chess champion Bobby Fischer died in Iceland; government took control of all three major commercial banks after Iceland faced financial crisis; Iceland applied to the International Monetary Fund for emergency financial aid; IMF approved $2.1bn loan to help Iceland through financial crisis
  • (2009) Johanna Siguroardottir became the first female prime minister after the collapse of the Icelandic government; Iceland formally applied for EU membership after parliament voted in favor of accession
  • (2010) President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to sign a bill from Alpingi for the second time in the nation's history; voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum proposal to pay the UK and the Netherlands 3.9bn euros worth of compensation for the collapse of the Icesave bank; eruptions began at a volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland, disrupted air travel across western and northern Europe for six days; formal talks on Iceland's EU accession began
  • (2011) Eruption of Grimsvotn volcano caused disruption to air travel in northern and western Europe
  • (2011) Voters rejected second referendum on loan guarantees repayment, British and Dutch governments said they would take case to European courts
This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.

Iceland Trivia

How has Iceland managed to test so many people for COVID-19?

The National University Hospital of Iceland and deCODE Genetics have developed a test program to curb the spread of the virus. Iceland's small population and the fact that even asymptomatic cases are tested has helped the country keep COVID-19 under control.

How Has Iceland Managed To Test So Many People For COVID-19?

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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