Iceland is a European country, an island republic, located in the north Atlantic. Capital, Reykjavik; area about 103,000 sq km (40,000 sq miles). The island was first settled by Vikings in AD 874. A parliament was established in the 10th century, and Christianity was adopted soon after.
In 1262 it was united with Norway, coming under Danish rule in 1380. In the 19th century it received its own constitution and in 1918 became almost completely independent of Denmark except for foreign affairs. Iceland eventually received full independence as a republic in 1944, joining NATO in 1949. It was involved in fishing disputes with Britain in the 1950’s and the 1970’s.
Iceland is a country of extreme geological contrasts. Widely known as “The Land of Fire and Ice” Iceland is home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe, and some of the world’s most active volcanoes. The coast is very jagged and much of the interior is mountainous, with many hot springs, geysers and active volcanoes.
Though so far north, warm ocean currents keep the summers mild, but much of Iceland is still bleak and the population is small. Fishing is the main occupation. Iceland is also the land of light and darkness. The summer months — July and August — are Iceland’s warmest, and have long been the most popular time to visit. And June, with its 24 hours of daylight, sees just about as many tourists as the peak of summer. But even during this season, bad weather (rain and intense winds) is not uncommon.
Did you know Iceland banned beer! A century ago, Iceland banned all alcoholic drinks. When full prohibition became law 100 years ago, alcohol in general was frowned upon, and beer was especially out of favour – for political reasons. Iceland was engaged in a struggle for independence from Denmark at the time, and Icelanders strongly associated beer with Danish lifestyles.
However, beer remained accessible, just about, to those who really wanted it. “If you knew a fisherman, he may have had a few cases stashed in his garage – usually the cheapest and strongest beer available, often stored too long”. Within a decade, red wine had been legalised, followed by spirits in the 1930’s. But full-strength beer remained off-limits until 1 March 1989. It was the first time in 74 years they’d had a chance to legally order beer.
Content for this question contributed by Trista Mentz, resident of Bethel Park, PA, USA