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Icelandic Sovereignty Day today

01.12.2021 - 13:54
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Today, 1st December, is Sovereignty Day in Iceland. On this day 103 years ago, Iceland was officially recognised by Denmark as a sovereign nation.

The timing of Iceland’s standing on its own two feet could hardly have been worse, with hindsight. The hardest winter in living memory—still known today as ‘the great frost winter’—was already biting hard, the First World War had barely been over three weeks, Katla had also not long finished erupting, and the Spanish flu pandemic was raging. 

In short, the nation was not in a party mood and the security of being a Danish colony suddenly seemed less objectionable to some. Nevertheless, the wheels had been set in motion and Iceland soon flourished as an independent nation—albeit one under the Danish crown. 

This period in the nation’s history ended with the establishment of the Republic of Iceland on 17th June 1944, when Iceland took control of its own international relations and defence, and named its own head of state. 

Today, Sovereignty Day fades somewhat into insignificance compared to the festive atmosphere on 17th June, which is a national holiday—but the importance of today on the creation of modern Iceland should not be underestimated!

For the 100th anniversary of Icelandic sovereignty, on this day in 2018, RÚV English (then itself just a few months old) created this video to mark the occasion. In it, we hear from 'New Icelanders' including Salmann Tamimi, who passed away in December 2020, about what Iceland means to them. 

Click to follow RÚV English on Facebook.

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Alexander Elliott
Fréttastofa RÚV