Iceland Island state in the North Atlantic. After the discovery and the first Norwegian settlements, the colonization of the island intensified at the end of the 9th century; the settlers formed small autonomous communities and reunited, in 930, an elective government called Althing, which is considered the oldest legislative assembly in Europe. Around 1000 Christianity was introduced. Iceland maintained its independence for three centuries until 1264 when, through the so-called “old treaty” with Haakon IV Haakonsson, it recognized the high sovereignty of Norway. After the union of Denmark with Norway and the Kalmar pact of union (1397), Iceland became more and more impoverished. During the Reformation, Catholics and Lutherans fought for a long time (1539-51) and the latter prevailed with the support of the king of Denmark. In 1662 the Icelanders took an oath of vassalage to Denmark and the Althing thus it lost all functions, until in 1800 it was replaced by the higher court of Reykjavík. In 1843 Christian VIII re-established it but only with consultative functions, and the struggle of the Icelanders for independence was in vain, obtained only in 1918, when a federative treaty recognized it as an independent sovereign state, united to Denmark in the person of the sovereign; the treaty established that from 31 Dec. 1940 onwards, the act of union could be reconsidered and repealed after three years by the Parliament of one or the other of the two countries. The events of the Second World War, with the German occupation of Denmark and the settlement of British and then American troops in Iceland, accelerated the dissolution of the union, decided unilaterally by Iceland in 1941. The new Constitution was approved and the Republic was proclaimed on June 17, 1944. In 1949, in a climate of political contrasts and popular tensions, Iceland it adhered to the Atlantic Pact on the condition that, without its own armed forces, it would not participate in war actions against other countries; in 1951 the controversial US military presence in the country ended with the agreement that allowed the US to use the Keflavík air base in the framework of NATO defense (agreement renewed in 1974). The foreign policy of the 1960s and 1970s was dominated by the dispute over fishing rights (“cod war”), reopened by Iceland in 1958 with the enlargement of the territorial waters (from 4 to 12 miles), accepted in 1961 by Great Britain. Subsequent extensions of territorial waters aimed to protect, even at the cost of repeated economic and diplomatic conflicts with Great Britain, Icelandic fishing from competition from more modern fleets. Worsened in 1975, when the Iceland extended the limit of its territorial waters to 200 miles, the dispute was resolved in 1976 with an agreement in favor of Iceland. However, the question of fishing rights continued to play an important role in the following decades, with unresolved disputes with Norway and Denmark. On the domestic front, the economic and financial difficulties contributed to the unstable governments that followed after the war. Of the four existing parties, the Independence Party (conservative), the Progressive Party (centrist), the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Alliance (Communist), none ever managed to achieve an absolute majority in Parliament and the Iceland it was mainly led by variously allied coalition governments. In 1983, a list made up exclusively of women emerged on the national political scene. Finally, since 1991, Icelandic political life has been characterized by the hegemony of the Independence Party, which after the difficult previous decades guaranteed the country government stability, strengthened by the good results achieved thanks to the policy of privatization and liberalization of the financial market. At the head of the government from 1991 to 2004 remained D. Oddson, who led the Iceland to be part of the European economic area (1994) and started negotiations with the United States to renegotiate their military presence in the territory, in compliance with the Parliament’s position against the entry of nuclear weapons into the country. After a government of the Progressive Party in 2005, the result of coalition agreements, in 2006 the Independence Party returned to lead the executive with GH Haarde, reconfirmed in office after the 2007 elections. The agreement for a progressive reduction of US troops and military assets, postponed to the formulation of a more general revision of the US military role on European territory following the terrorist attacks of 11 Sept. 2001, was at the origin of a crisis between Iceland and the USA, which in March 2006 announced the closure of the Keflavík base. Accused of failing to cope with the economic crisis that began in 2008, the Haarde government had to resign and the early elections of April. 2009 saw the success of the Social Democrats, led by J. Sigurðardottir.