Fifteen million years ago, a volcanic plume unleashed itself through a crack in the ocean floor and boiled its way upward to become a landmass above water. For the next twelve million years—and even today—seismic activity shaped and reshaped the small island country near the topmost arc of the Earth.
One thousand one hundred forty-one years ago, that landmass became the country of Iceland, the name given to it by Ingólfur Arnarsson, the man historians claim founded the first permanent settlement in the land of fire and ice. From its worldly, political inception in 874 to 930, more settlers arrived, determined to make Iceland their home. They were Vikings from Denmark and Norway. Even today, sixty percent of the total population of 330,000 Icelanders are of Norse descent. Thirty-four percent are of Celtic descent. It is believed Scottish monks arrived in Iceland prior to the settlement of the Vikings, thus the initial connection to the current Celtic heritage. Historians generally believe that Celts were immigrated to Iceland as slaves in the early years, having been ravaged by Viking raids in Scotland and Ireland.
Of the total Icelandic population, only six percent cannot claim Nordic or Celtic heritage. Native Icelanders can trace back their origins in the National Registry to several hundred years. Even today, during small talk, people bring up ancient names, as if the old Vikings are still around.
For several centuries, Denmark ruled Iceland, then Norway took possession in the 15th century, and then Denmark regained its rule, which held for centuries. Iceland did not regain its independence until 1944.
In general, and in keeping with their Viking heritage, Icelanders are a hardy, self-confident people, with a rampant desire to live, learn, share, and survive. They are a people who gave the world its first parliamentary government, and who gave the world Icelandic Sagas, a style of literature and storytelling that is responsible for modern fantasy and heroic movies and books.
But though Icelanders take their ancient ancestry very seriously, they are focused toward the future, pioneering safe and sustainable ways in which the world can solve its energy crisis. A significant portion Iceland is powered by geothermal sources, the cleanest, most efficient method of generating electricity on Earth. Transforming themselves over the centuries from being raiders, pillagers, and plunderers, Icelanders have become a people with no standing army, more technological savvy than most, and a desire to put education at the top of their social priorities.
Iceland is credited as the most literate and educated country in the world. They are also often credited as being among the most happy people on the planet.
But make no mistake, once a Viking always a Viking; you have to be to enjoy living a world covered by glaciers and rocked with volcanos.