Chronography of Iceland
Page last modified 28 February 2023
See also Arctic (Greenland and small islands)
See also Denmark
See also Finland
See also Norway (Vikings)
See also Sweden
For main 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 2015.
16 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.
1/2009, Johanna 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.
1885, Iceland 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
19 February 1976. Iceland
broke off diplomatic relations with
10 December 1975, The
first shots were fired in the Cod War between
24/10/1975, Women in Iceland staged a one-day general strike.
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
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
2/10/1973, 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
25/10/1972, Iceland boycotted British goods as part of the Cod War.
1 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
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
1558, The 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 traders.
1400, Fish began to replace woollen goods as Iceland�s main export.
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
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.
1951, 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.
1946, 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 as practicable.
1930, The Bank of Iceland collapsed. The Fisheries Bank was created from its remnants.
1929, The Agricultural Bank, owned by the State of Iceland, was established.
Icelandic 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 Copenhagen.
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 born.
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 fair prices.
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 east.
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 Hafnarfjordur.
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 northern Iceland.
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 Reykjanes Peninsula.
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 university level.
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 Reykjavik.
1904, Iceland�s frist Technical Training College opened in Reykjavik.
1891, A College of Navigation opened in Reykjavik.
1882, A high school opened at Modruvellir in southern Iceland.
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 Reykjavik.
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 citizens.
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 again.
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 Icelandic.
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)
1000, 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 Icelndic chieftains.
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.
795, Irish monks were settling in Iceland during the summer. They reported on the 24-hour daylight in that region.
700, The Venerable Bede (674-735) mentioned Thule, the Mediaeval name for Iceland, in his writings.