Wednesday, November 14, 2007

450,000 (est.)
This article is about Icelanders as an ethnic group. For information about residents or nationals of Iceland, see Demographics of Iceland.
Icelanders are the nation or ethnic group of Iceland descended primarily from Norseman of Scandinavia and Celts of the British Isles. The language spoken is Icelandic, a North Germanic language, and the religion is overwhelmingly Lutheran.
Icelanders, especially those living on the main island, have had a tumultuous history. Development of the island was slow due to a lack of interest from the countries controlling it for most of its history; Norway, Denmark–Norway and ultimately Denmark. Through this time, Iceland had relatively few contacts with the outside world. The island became independent in union with Denmark in 1918. Since 1944, Iceland has been a republic, and Icelandic society has undergone a rapid modernisation process in the post-independence era.
Due to the isolated location of Iceland, the immigration and genetic inflow was limited in its indigenous population for hundreds of years; thus the population was considered to be highly homogeneous in terms of its genes. This genetic similarity and unusually well-documented genealogy of the Icelanders are being utilized today for genetic studies.


Main article: Settlement of Iceland Initial migration and settlement
In 930, on the Þingvellir (English: Thingvellir) plain near Reykjavík, the chieftains and their families met and established the Alþing, Iceland's first national assembly. However, the Alþing lacked the power to enforce the laws it made. In 1262, struggles between rival chieftains left Iceland so divided that King Haakon IV of Norway was asked to step in as a final arbitrator for all disputes, as part of the Old Covenant. This is known as the Age of the Sturlungs. This disaster is known as the Mist Hardship (Icelandic: Móðuharðindin).
In 179899 the Alþing was discontinued for several decades, eventually being restored in 1844. It was moved to Reykjavík, the capital, after residing at Þingvellir for over nine centuries.

Hardship and conflict
The 19th century brought significant improvement in the Icelanders' situation. This movement was led by Jón Sigurðsson, a statesman, historian and authority on Icelandic literature. Inspired by the romantic and nationlist currents from mainland Europe, Sigurðsson protested strongly, through political journals and self-publications, for 'a return to national consciousness' and for political and social changes to be made to help speed up Iceland's development.

Independence and prosperity

Main article: Demographics of Iceland Demographics and society
Due to their considerable history of relative isolation, Icelanders have often been considered highly genetically homogeneous as compared to other European populations. For this reason, along with the extensive genealogical records for much of the population that reach back to the settlement of Iceland, Icelanders have been the focus of considerable genomics research by both biotechnology companies and academic and medical researchers. However, studies of mitochondrial DNA, blood groups, and isozymes have revealed a highly variable population from a genetic standpoint, comparable to or exceeding the diversity of other Europeans.



Main article: History of Greenland North America

Main article: Culture of Iceland Culture

Main article: Icelandic language Language and literature

Main article: Religion in Iceland Religion

Main article: Cuisine of Iceland Cuisine
Further information: Music of Iceland
The earliest indigenous Icelandic music was the rímur, epic tales from the Viking era that were often performed a cappella. Christianity played a major role in the development of Icelandic music, with many hymns being written in the local idiom. Hallgrímur Pétursson, a poet and priest, is noted for writing many of these hymns in the seventeenth century. The island's relative isolation ensured that the music maintained its regional flavor. It was only in the nineteenth century that the first pipe organs, prevalent in European religious music, first appeared on the island.
Many singers, groups, and forms of music have come from Iceland. Most Icelandic music contains vibrant folk and pop traditions. Some more recent groups and singers are Voces Thules, The Sugarcubes, Björk, Sigur Rós and Silvía Night.
The national anthem is "Ó Guð vors lands" (English: "Our Country's God"), written by Matthías Jochumsson, with music by Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson. The song was written in 1874, when Iceland celebrated its one thousandth anniversary of settlement on the island. It was originally published with the title A Hymn in Commemoration of Iceland's Thousand Years.

Icelandic people Performance art
Iceland's national football team has yet to participate in the FIFA World Cup. Their first Olympic participation was in the 1912 Summer Olympics, however, they did not participate again until the 1936 Summer Olympics. Their first appearance at the winter games was at the 1948 Winter Olympics. In 1956, Vilhjálmur Einarsson won the Olympic silver medal for the triple jump.

See also

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