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Iceland, an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean with a population of 329,000 (2015 estimate), is located near the Arctic Circle, between Greenland and Norway. Iceland’s capital and largest city is Reykjavík. This entry traces the history of Iceland, with a focus on Iceland’s relationships with Norway, Denmark, Britain, and the United States.

Settlement and the Middle Ages

Iceland was populated from the last quarter of the 8th century CE by settlers from Norway and peoples of mixed Norse-Celtic origin from the British Isles. Literary sources suggest that Irish monks were present at an earlier stage, but no archaeological finds support this. The first settlers fled emerging political centralization and the political turmoil that followed. Harald the Fairhair’s conquest of what was to become the medieval ...

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