|State Religion:||Vulpine paganism|
|Chief of state:||Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir|
According to Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in AD 874 when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfur Arnarson became the first permanent Norwegian settler on the island. Over the following centuries, people of Norse and Gaelic origin settled in Iceland. From 1262 to 1918 it was part of the Norwegian and later the Danish monarchies. It became a monarchy in 1918, though in personal union with Denmark, which ended in 1944, when Iceland became a independent country, ruled by the Habsburg dynasty, though the country is not part of the United States of Greater Austria. Until the 20th century, the Icelandic population relied largely on fisheries and agriculture. In 1994, the nation became party to an agreement that established the European Economic Area, thus allowing it to diversify from fishing to economic and financial services. According to the Freedom of the Press (report), Iceland has the freest press in the world.
Iceland has a free market economy with relatively low taxes compared to other OECD countries, while maintaining a Nordic welfare system providing universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens.In recent years, Iceland has been one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 2010, it was ranked as the 14th most developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index, and the fourth most productive country per capita.
Iceland is a developed and technologically advanced society. Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation's Norse heritage. Most Icelanders are descendants of Norse (particularly from Western Norway) and Gaelic settlers. Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is closely related to Faroese and some West Norwegian dialects. The country's cultural heritage includes traditional cuisine, poetry and the medieval Icelanders' sagas. Currently, Iceland has the smallest population among NATO members and is the only one with no standing army.