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Introduction: Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930. Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by Norway and Denmark. Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century, 20% of the island's population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the US. Limited home rule from Denmark was granted in 1874 and complete independence attained in 1944. The second half of the 20th century saw substantial...

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Economic Overview: As one of the smallest countries in the world, Iceland’s economy is particularly vulnerable to global economic fluctuations and has been severely affected by the global financial and economic crisis. The Icelandic economy experienced high levels of volatility in 2008 and suffered a collapse in the banking system. In October 2008, the government took control of the three big Icelandic commercial banks. On 24 October 2008, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced an IMF rescue package totalling US$2.1 billion for Iceland to address the effects of the global financial crisis. The IMF forecast in December 2008 that Iceland’s GDP could ...

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People: Most Icelanders are descendants of Norwegian settlers and Celts from the British Isles, and the population is remarkably homogeneous. According to Icelandic Government statistics, 94% of the nation's inhabitants live in urban areas (localities with populations greater than 200) and about 63% live in the Reykjavik metropolitan area. Of the Nordic languages, the Icelandic language is closest to the ...

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International Relations: The Icelandic government has made clear its continued support for the EEA Agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Union, which came into force in January 1994. As part of the European Economic Area, Iceland is already a member of the EU's single market. It is also a member of the Schengen Area which removes border controls between member states.

Iceland formally applied for EU membership on 16 July 2009. On 24 February 2010, the European Commission published their Opinion in which they recommended opening accession negotiations. At an intergovernmental conference between Iceland and ...

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