Surrounded by the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and the United Kingdom, Iceland had a 2008 estimated population of 320,000, and a female life expectancy of 82.5 years. The birth rate is 13.6 per 1,000, and the infant mortality rate of 3.3 per 1,000 live births is the fifth lowest in the world—it was reduced by two-thirds between 1990–2004. The crude divorce rate in the country is 1.8 divorces per 1,000 marriages (2003 estimate).

The first permanent settlement, according to tradition, was in 874, when the Vikings lived there. As a result, it was ruled by Norway and then by Denmark beginning in 1814, only gaining independence in 1944. Prior to their independence, however, Iceland introduced many of laws concerning women's rights. In 1935, it became ...

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