- an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, just south of the Arctic Circle, at the northern end of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, volcanically active, only about 20 percent habitable; population 306,700 (est. 2009); capital, Reykjavik; official language, Icelandic. Icelandic name Island.
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. In 2010, volcanic eruptions in Eyjafjalljökull, an ice cap in southern Iceland, caused major disruptions of air travel across much of Europe