Iceland has one of the first democratic parliaments in the World?
In the 9th century, Iceland was found by accident. A Viking sailor heading for the Faroe Islands was blown off course and landed on the shores of an unknown land. At the time Norway was ruled by a brutal king, Harald the Fairhaired. To escape the tyranny in their home country, the first Vikings arrived on the island in 874AD and began establishing farming communities. Because of their flight from oppression the Icelandic settlers wanted a different system of government for their new country. They instead trusted a group of powerful nobles to keep order and these men regularly met to solve major problems. These yearly meetings were called þings and in 930 AD, the first Parliament met in Iceland in what is today Þingvellir National Park. It was given the name Alþing, meaning central parliament, and it still convenes today making it the world’s oldest national assembly.
As an interesting sideline, Þingvellir is one of only two places on our planet where two of the earth’s tectonic plates are visible meeting above the earth’s surface (the other is in Africa). The North American and Eurasian plates push out of the landscape moving apart about an inch every year. Þingvellir National Park is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cultural, historical, and geographical significance.
Travel with Far Horizons on Iceland: In the Path of the Vikings in August 2021.