Icelandic Culture
25 November 2019

History of Iceland in a timeline

The history of Iceland spans over 1000 years, and a lot has happened. We took together a few important dates for you which are useful to know. A good idea is to visit some of the places we mention during your travel in Iceland.

874-ish

Norwegian Vikings dissatisfied with the way the king, Harald I, was ruling the country go to sea and sail to Iceland. Ingólfur Arnarson is said to be the founder, and he set up shop in Reykjavík in 874. 

930

The new nation of Iceland establishes the first parliament in the world, Alþingi, in Þingvellir to regulate the Icelandic Commonwealth.
 
turf church in Iceland

1000

Icelanders vote to become Christian. Icelanders practice Norse Ásatrú for some years longer though. 

1262

After decades of civil war between chieftains who had arrogated Iceland and their followers, Icelanders hold a meeting in Þingvellir and decide to make a deal with the Norwegian king to bring Iceland under the Norwegian crown. The East-Fjords don’t agree until two years later.

1415

Iceland became a Danish colony when Norway, Sweden and Denmark became a union with the Kalmar Union. Icelanders were not happy about that at all. 

1550

The last Catholic bishop of Iceland was beheaded at Skálholt during the Protestant Reformation.
 
Laki craters in Icceland

1783

The volcano Laki erupts in South-East Iceland. 25km long fissure with 130 crates opened up. The eruption lasted 8 months and the sulfuric aerosols that accompanied it has made the eruption one of the most important events of the last thousand years. 20-25% of the Icelandic population perished, as did 80% of sheep, 50% of cattle and 50% of horses. 

1874

Icelanders got their very first constitution from the Danish king.

1904

Icelanders got home rule.

1918 

Iceland became a sovereign and independent state in a union with Denmark.

1940

Britain invades Iceland. Icelanders were very relieved that it was the British army and not the German, who had already invaded Denmark and Norway at that point.

1944

Iceland declares independence from Denmark.  

1949

Iceland becomes one of the founding members of NATO. Icelanders were not happy.

1980

Icelanders become the first nation to elect a female president, Vígdís Finnbogadóttir.

2008

The Financial Crash. Icelanders love being the best; the Financial Crash in Iceland was the biggest financial crash per capita in history.
 
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