Iceland lies just south of the Arctic Circle, and only about 20 per cent of the land area is habitable. Situated at the north end of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, it is volcanically active. First settled by Norse colonists in the 9th century, Iceland was under Norwegian rule from 1262 to 1380, when it passed to Denmark. Granted internal self-government in 1874, it became a fully fledged independent republic in 1944
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