Chronography of Iceland
Page last modified 18 August
See also Arctic (Greenland and small islands)
See also Denmark
See also Finland
See also Norway (Vikings)
See also Sweden
European events of World War Two see France-Germany
See also Russia for more
events of Finland-Russia conflict 1939-40
2013, After new elections Iceland became cooler
about joining the European Union, and formally withdrew its application in
July 2009, Iceland�s Parliament voted to begin negotiations to
join the European Union. The country had a new
leftist Government, following the near- collapse of the Icelandic banking
system after the 2007 Credit Crunch.
Sigurdardottir became Prime Minister of Iceland; she was Europe�s first openly lesbian
head of state.
5/2007, The Iceland Movement, an ecological, Green,
Party chaired by Omar, first contested elections. It got 3.3% of the vote,
failing to achieve the 5% needed for representation in Parliament; however the
Green agenda was becoming more prominent in Icelandic politics.
declared itself a nuclear-free zone.
14 November 1985,
Holmfriour Karlsdottir of Iceland, 22, was crowned the 35th Miss World.
Fishing industry, Cod War
1995, Fish products�
comprosed around 70% of Iceland�s
exports. Much of the rest was made up of aluminium and woollen goods.
Iceland has considerable hydroelectric power and geothermal energy resources.
1 June 1976. Britain
and Iceland signed an
agreement in Oslo
to end the Cod War.� Up to 24
British trawlers would be permitted to fish within the 200-mile zone claimed by
19 February 1976. Iceland
broke off diplomatic relations with Britain after the two countries
failed to reach agreement on fishing limits in the �Cod War� dispute. Conflict began in
1958 when Iceland extended its territorial waters from 3 to 12 nautical miles;
Britain finally recognised this limit in 1961. In 1972 Iceland claimed a
further extension to 50 miles; Britain ignored this, and Icelandic gunboats
sank two British trawlers. In January 1976 an Icelandic gunboat rammed the
Royal Navy frigate Andromeda, which
had been protecting British fishing boats.
10 December 1975, The
first shots were fired in the Cod War between Britain
24/10/1975, Women in Iceland staged a one-day general
For events of Cod War see also Great Britain 1970s
unilaterally extended its fishing grounds to 200 miles, leading to a
the Cod War with Britain.
25 July 1974, The International
Court of Justice at The Hague ruled that Britain was not bound to observe Iceland�s
unilateral extension of its fishing rights from 12 to 50 miles in 1972.
8 November 1973, The Cod War between Britain
agreed to withdraw its fishing boats from the 50 mile zone claimed by Iceland.
7 September 1973, Iceland
threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Britain over the fishing dispute.
24 May 1973, The Cod War
continued between Britain and Iceland.
several hundred protesters, in a crowd of several thousand, threw stones, eggs,
and paint at the British Embassy. Reykjavik�s
150 police officers were hopelessly outnumbered.
boycotted British goods as part of the Cod War.
September 1972, Iceland extended its fishing limit from 12 to 50 miles.
This excluded UK fishing boats from an area they had extracted 208,000 tons of
fish from in 1971.
27 February 1961, Britain
and Iceland settled their fishing dispute. British ships would no longer fish
within 12 miles
of the Icelandic coast.
6 May 1959, The UK protested to Iceland about violence in the Cod
War. Icelandic gunboats
had fired live ammunition at British trawlers. Iceland said they
were just warning shots, but one only missed a trawler by three metres.
1 September 1958, British trawlers defied the
Icelandic 12-mile fishing limit, which came into force this day.
1 June 1958, Iceland extended
its fishing limits from 4 to 12 miles.
1952, Iceland extended its fishing limits from 3 to 4
�miles. Overfishing by foreign
trawlers had damaged the spawning grounds of cod and other species. Most
nations accepted, but Britian protested and began boycotting Icelandic cod;
however new markets for cod were developed in the USA, so the economic damage
of this boycott on Iceland was limited.
1930, Mechanisation of fish
processing began in Iceland. The country�s first large scale fish freezing
plant was set up near Reykjavik. By 1936 Iceoland had 6 such facilities, and 42
of tjhem by 1944. However herring stocks collapsed after 1950.
1902, Iceland began using motorised
boats for fishing. The first such boat operated out of Isafjordur.
Earlier fish trade conflict
English finally vacated the Westmann Islands, leaving the Icelandic fish trade
to the Danes and Germans
1490, An agreement was reached
between the Danes, English and Germans over the Icelandic fishing trade. The
English could continue to fish and trade in Iceland if they applied for
permits to do so.
1428, The English were becoming
increasingly dominant in the Icelandic fish trade, displacing the Hanseatic German
1400, Fish began to replace woollen goods
as Iceland�s main
23 February 1974, Iceland
was hit by a General Strike; only civil servants and printers remained at work.
Workers demanded a 28% pay rise.
14 November 1963. The
island of Surtsey, off Iceland, was born as an undersea volcano erupted.
10 December 1959, US troops
began to leave Iceland.
29 September 1952, Asgeir Asgeirsson (born 13 May 1894)
was elected President of Iceland by 32,294 votes against 31,094 for Bishop Bjarni
Jonsson and 4,155 for Gisli Svensson.
The US built
an air base at Keflavik, despite strong local opposition.
30 March 1949, The Icelandic Parliament
passed a Bill for Charter membership of NATO, on condition that it did not have
to provide any troops,, and that no foreign troops would be stationed in Iceland
during peacetime. There were protests by the Socialists, but these were
dispersed by the police, and Iceland officially joined NATO on 4 April� 1949.
US troops had still not left Iceland, despite the ending of World
War Two a year earlier. The Icelandic Parliament negotiated a new
treaty whereby US troops would leave within 18 months, however they could still
use Keflavik Airfield and even station troops there whilst the US had a major
military presence in Germany. The Icelandic Socialists walked out of Parliament
in protest and abandoned the coalition, bringing down the Government. In fact
the US troops did leave in 1947, and Iceland had no foreign military stationed
there until 1951.
7 July 1941, To ease the defence burden
on the UK, the USA undertook to occupy Iceland. This released 20,000 British
troops. The first US troops arrived in Iceland this day. Iceland had now
decisively abandoned its neutralist stance. The US agreed to withdraw their
forces as soon as the War was over.
10 May 1940, The UK effectively
�invaded� Iceland, to forestall a German occupation; the Faroe Islands were
also occupied. Iceland protested, but could do nothing. On the evening of the
10th May the Icelandic Prime Minister, whilst repeating the
protests, asked his people to keep calm and treat the British as guests. The
British undettook not to interfere in Icelandic affairs, and to leave as soon
The Bank of Iceland collapsed. The Fisheries Bank was created from its
The Agricultural Bank, owned by the State of Iceland, was established.
independence from Denmark
17 June 1944, Iceland became an independent republic,
after a national referendum confirmed the decision by 97.35% of votes cast..
The 25-year Union with Denmark had expired, see 1 December 1918.
17 June 1941, The
Icelandic parliament voted to institute a Regent, for one year at a time, to
carry out the royal duties which the King of Denmark was now unable to fulfil
due to the War. This day Sveinn Bjornsson, former Ambassador to Denmark, was
elected as first Regent.
1920, Iceland established its first overseas Embassy, in
1920, The Supreme Court of Iceland was established.
1 December 1918, Denmark
granted independence to Iceland; a
25-year union with Denmark was instituted.
1915, Iceland instituted its national flag, in red, blue
and white. An earlier blue and white design was rejected as being too similar
to the Greek flag.
19 June 1915, Iceland
gave women aged over 40 the vote. In 1918 the age for women voters was reduced
to the same as for men. .
1914, Iceland became autonomous.
1 February 1904, Iceland
achieved Home Rule. However the Danish Constitutional laws of 1876 still
applied in Iceland
1874, Iceland achieved limited self-rule.
17 June 1811, Jon Sigurdsson,
campaigner for Icelandic independence from 1840 until his death in 1879, was
26 June 1809, Iceland
declared independence from Denmark. Denmark had attempted to remain neutral
during the Napoleonic Wars, but this position became increasingly untenable.
Britian then acted first, before Napoleon could, bombarding Copenhagen into
surrender and confiscating the Danish fleet. Denmark then declared war on
Britain, a position it maintained until the war ended in 1814. Britain now
became a trading partner with Iceland, bringing essential goods to market at
1940-1944, Iceland was occupied by US and British troops, as a
precuation against Nazi occupation during World War Two.
13 December 1922, Hannes Hafstein, Prime Minister
of Iceland, died.
Land transport developments,
1974, The Ring Road around the whole of Iceland was
completed, overcoming issues of flooding on wide sandy riverbeds in thye south
1913, Iceland�s only railway opened. It was used to
transport harbour construction materials in Reykjavik, but was closed in 1915.
Road transport was cheaper.
1904, The first car appeared in Reykjavik. However most
roads were still too poor to drive� it
on. Cars and lorries only became more widespread in the mid-1910s. By 1924
Iceland had some 300 cars, mostly around Reykjavik; driveable roads still did
not extend far beyong the capital.
1891, Iceland began modernising its road system. This
year a road bridge was opened caross the River Olfusa. Another road bridge over
the River Thjorsa opened in 1895. The country mainly relied on sea transport to
link the various coastal settlements.
1910, Reykjavik gasworks opened.
1909, Reykjavik installed a modern sewerage system.
1904, The Bank of Iceland was established in Reykjavik.
1904, Iceland�s first hydroelectric plant opened, at
1930, The State Hospital, Reykjavik, opened.
1910, A tuberculosis sanatorium opened at Vifilsstadir,
near Reykjavik. A second such sanatorium opened in 1927 at Kristsnes, in
1907, A psychiatric hospital opened in Reykjavik.
1902, The Catholic Mission in Iceland opened a modern
hospital in Reykjavik.
1898, A leper hospital was established in Reykjavik.
1866, The first hospital opened in Reykjavik.
13 May 1894, Asgeir
Asgeirsson, President of Iceland, was born.
1885, The National Bank of Iceland was established.
1884, The International Order of Good Templars was etsblished in
Reykjavik, to combat widespread alcoholism. In 1908 a national referendum went
in favour of Prohibition, and the Icelandic Parliament passed a Prohibition Act
in 1909. This Act took full effect in 1915. However the sale of Spanish wine
was permitted from 1922, in return for Spain promoting the import of Icelandic
saltfish. Public opinion now moved against Prohibition and after a further
referendum it was repealed in 1934. The Icelandic State maintained a monopoly
of all alchohol sales, and strong beer remained Prohibited until 1989.
1878, Iceland�s first lighthouse began operations, on the
1875, The Krona became the currency unit of Iceland.
1988, Tbe University of Akureyri was founded.
1974, An Educational Act made school compulsory for all
7 to 16 year olds. This became 6 to 16 in 1990.
17 June 1911, The
University of Iceland was established, on the centenary of the birth of Jon Sigurdsson.
1909, A law school opened in Reykjavik.
1908, A teacher training college was established in
Reykjavik. In 1972 this college was authorised to train for teaching at
1907, Iceland passed a public education Act, making
school attendance compulsory for children aged 10 � 14. This age range was
extended by stages, becoming 6 � 16 by 1990.
1905, A business and commerce college was set up in
1904, Iceland�s frist Technical Training College opened
1891, A College of Navigation opened in Reykjavik.
1882, A high school opened at Modruvellir in southern
1880, A secondary school opened at Modruvellir. It later
moved to Akureyri.
1876, A medical school opened in Reykjavik.
1874, A girl�s school was established in Reykjavik.
1847, A theological seminary (Lutheran) was constructed in
1846, Reykjavik Grammar School opened.
1800, The Althing
(Icelandic Parliament), which had lost influence under Danish rule, ceased
to exist. It was reconstituted in 1843.
Danish Trade Monopoly; ended by Laki eruption
1 April� 855,
Icelandic trade was made completely free, open to anybody, not just Danish
1787, The Danish
Trade Monopoly was repealed, due to the famine in Iceland. At first, trade
was restricted to subjects of the Danish Crown.
1786, Reyjjavik gained its first municipal charter. It
then had just 167 residents. A textiles industry was set up here, although
there was opposition from Danish merchants who feared this would undermine
their monopoly. More permanent stone buildings began to be erected.
1784, Widespread starvation in Iceland because of the
Laki eruption. Some 10,000 people perished, taking the population below 40,000
8 June 1783, The Laki Volcano in Iceland erupted;
the world�s largest volcanic eruption. One fifth of Iceland�s inhabitants, over
10,000 people, died as a 28km long fissure opened up, from which lava covered
an area of 570 square kilometres. Some 12-15 cubic kilometres of lava were
ejected. Deaths were from poisonous gases then from famine and disease as
11,500 cattle (53%of total), 28,000 horses (77% of total) and 190,500 sheep
(82% of total) also perished.
1758, Potato cultivation began in Iceland.
1707, Smallpox epidemic hit Iceland; 18,000 died, about
a third of the population.
1627, Reykjavik, Iceland, was attacked by Algerian pirates
(known as �Turks�, because Algeria was then part of the Ottoman Empire). Many
were taken to be sold as slaves in North Africa, with just 37 out of 370
ransomed back to Iceoland by the9ir families. Denmark largely failed to protect
Iceland from such foreign piracy.
1584, The Bible became the first book printed in Iceland, in
1564, The King of Denmark, after
the Reformation, began to rule Iceland more directly, virtually as a colony.
The Danish Trade Monopoly was
established. This meant that only a small cadre of Danish merchants, from
Copenhagen, Elsinore and Malmo, could legally buy or sell anything in Iceland,
with any clandestine trade with other nations severely punished. These
merchants exploited the Icelandic market., buying cheap and selling dear, and
often palming off inerior products. This monopoly lasted until 1787.
7 November 1550, Bishop Jon Arason, the last Catholic Bishop in
Iceland, who had campaigned against the Reformation and Luthernaism, was
executed at Skalholt.
1494, A further� plague, the Black Death, hit Iceland,
although the remote northwest largely escaped.
1402, Iceland had escaped the
Great Plague of 1348-50 that killed a vast proportion of Europeans. This was
because no outside shipping reached Icleand.. However tis year, till 1404, a
similar Plague did hit Iceland
1380, Iceland came under Danish
rule, as Norway united with Denmark.
1262, Icelandic chieftains accepted rule by Norway. The former Icelandic
Republic from ca. 930 had lacked an executive power to maintain law and order,
therefore rival Icelandic factions had vied for hegemony, often seeking outside
help to achieve this. Norway had been invited in this manner, and now assumed
sovereignty over Iceland.
22 September 1241, Snorri Sturlason, Icelandic historian and
political intriguer, was put to death in a dispute with Norway.
1133, Thingeyrar monastery was
founded in northern Iceland.
1117, Icelandic laws were first
put down in writing. Before this date the lawspeaker of the Parliament was
obliged to memorise them, and recite on demand.
1004. The Icelandic Supreme
Court (High Court) was established)
Iceland�s Althing chose to adopt Christianity
over Odin-worship. However, private worship of the old pagan Norse Gods was
permitted. Pagan practice ssiuch as exposure of infants, duelling and slavery
lasted perhaps another 50 years before dying out entirely.
939, Major volcanic eruption in Iceland,
affected climate and crops worldwide.
928, The Althing, the Icelandic Parliament, was founded at Thingvellir
(Parliament Plains). It is the world�s oldest Parliament. This was the
foundation of the Icelandic Commonwealth, a unified administration over all the
874, Norse settlement of Iceland
began. Ingolfur Arnason brought in the first settlers.
866, Floki Vilgeroarson, Norseman,
made an early expedition to Iceland, and named it �Ice-Island� due to the
quantity of ice in its fjords.
Irish monks were settling in Iceland during the summer. They reported on the
24-hour daylight in that region.
Bede (674-735) mentioned Thule, the Mediaeval name for Iceland, in
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