Guest country: Iceland

An island on two continents
In this geologically young country, which fire grabbed from water, we can see how the planet looked like before millions of animals took it over. First of all, the Vikings have spent their winters there and then they decided to stay in the 9th century. In the year 1000, they have accepted Christianity. Today, 310,000 people of Viking and Irish origin live in Iceland, protecting their right to fish in their own waters. They do not want to enter the EU. They have refused to build in stone, so loyal to wood, so the oldest building in Iceland’s capital is a bar from the end of the 19th century

By: Miodrag Popović


IcelandAn island of fire in northern ice, Iceland is the first country of medieval Europe with a parliament. The Vikings established the country and the parliament right after throwing out Irish monks who have come to Iceland to pray in peace.
“Aurora Borealis” or Northern Lights made and still makes Iceland closer to Valhalla and God that the Vikings have accepted in the year 1000 from the sky, in their parliament meeting. The legend says that Iceland had to put up with the anger of former gods, after accepting Christianity, during the last great eruption on earth which fire grabbed from the sea.
The Republic of Iceland is in northern Atlantic, under the polar circle, between Greenland, Norway, Ireland and Faroe Islands. In April, there were 309, 699 residents on the island. The capital is Reykjavík and it was once the property of the first official resident of Iceland, Ingólfur Arnarson, who came there in 874 with his family and an unknown number of Irish slaves. Ingólfur, the son of Arne, besides his adventurous spirit and the traditional aspiration of Vikings to conquer, explore and trade, had one more important reason for choosing to settle in Iceland instead of only spending his winter there, according to tradition. Namely, neither he nor his followers did not agree with the idea that Vikings should have only one leader. In the time when people easily got killed they have all decided to leave their native land and find happiness in another place.
Vikings’ descendants say that during the moving from the continent to the island some of them got off their ships in Faroe Islands, knowing what was waiting for them in Iceland, while the others went to Iceland because they have already seen Faroe Islands. Be that as it may, the one who have stayed in Iceland explored further, in the direction of Greenland and North America. They did not settle on the American continent, even if they discovered it. They have decided to keep quiet about the discovery, and they lived happily in prosperity until 1244 when they were occupied by Denmark, given that they asked for it, unable to solve their own problems. This lasted until 1944 when they acquired independence which they still preserve.


Island lies on two tectonic plates, one North American and one European, even if it belongs to Europe. If you visit the place where the first parliament of modern world had its meeting, Alting, you will have the unique opportunity to stand on two continents at the same time. The parliament leaned against the wall of the North American part of the island, facing Europe. Establishing a legislative body in such place had also some simple reasons: a shelter from the wind which blows in Iceland during the whole year but many fish in the nearby big lake, as well.
Geologically, Iceland is a very young country, in the middle of the Atlantic crack, so its soil is very active. The last great eruption from 1783 was so strong that a large cloud of smoke covered the biggest part of Europe, parts of Asia and Africa. A combination of ice, fire and water make Iceland one of the biggest tourist attractions of modern times. The island seems to be lying above a steam bath. Thanks to that fact, thermal and electrical energy represent the basis of modern economy. The other important part of their economy is fishing.
Given that Iceland is a geologically young country you have the opportunity to see how our planet once looked like, before plant and animal species took it over. Only a few decades ago, for Icelanders bushes were forests and it takes about 3000 years for moss to appear on volcanic rocks, which are everywhere. However, forests did exist, but they were cut down by the Vikings who did not believe in building in stone so the oldest building in Reykjavík is a bar from the end of the 19th century.


If you come to Iceland to admire the true forces of nature you shall not be disappointed. However, a relatively small number of plant and animal species, which were mostly brought along with the first settlers, would point out to the fact that adventurous spirit was followed by certain form of “business” which made Iceland a very proper place to live in.
Vikings brought sheep, horses and cows, small ones because of easier “packing” on the ships which were not spacious enough. You can still see those ships today. In some was, Iceland is an island stopped in time, and its residents talk about ancient history like about something that happened just yesterday. Isolation and a stable population (until the end of the 19th century, population was between 40 and 60 thousand) made Icelanders ideal for genetic research.
From these Viking and Irish slaves’ descendants we should learn just the thing by which they differ from us. A long historical memory, a conscience which goes deep into the past and they also differ by accepting the fact that they owe their surname to their fathers and that they obligate their sons with their own name. That is why we know everyone’s destiny in Iceland because they were at least mentioned in one of the sagas from the very beginning and which are still narrated.
The best example for this statement is the text “The King’s Mirror” (“Konungs Skuggsjá”), written after a five century Viking tradition, around 1240. It represents a unique guide for business people of that time. Advices and rules of that time are usable even today, even if the communications have much progressed from insecure ships and even more insecure settlements built on the earth which constantly trembles.

“A merchant often finds himself in difficult situations. Sometimes in the sea, sometimes in a inhospitable country, but always among strangers. He must always find a way to be accepted where ever he goes.”

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