Iceland operates a parliamentary representative democracy.

Republic of Iceland is among the thirty-one countries in the world without a regular armed forces yet in the July 2019 Report, Global Peace Index, an effort of the Institute of Economics and Peace at measuring the degree of peacefulness in countries across the globe, rated Republic of Iceland as the most peaceful in the world, the position it had maintained since 2008.

It may interest the readers to know that it's more or less opposite in case of Nigeria as the 2018 Thomson Reuters Foundation expert surveys put Nigeria as the 9th most dangerous country in the globe for women in particular.

Aside being the most peaceful, Iceland has so many other firsts among the comity of nations;

i. World's oldest parliament established in 1845 with a democratic tradition dates back to more than one thousand years ago in form of a National Assembly known as Althingi.

ii. World's first elected woman President in 1980, Vigolis Finnbogulottr, a position she held for four consecutive terms until she chose not to run for re-election in 1996.

iii. World's first openly pronounced gay head of government, Johana Siguroarchoottr who was also the first woman Prime Minister in the country.

iv. One of the world's highest life expectancies with its high standard of public health.

v. One of the world's best welfare services system with its unemployment insurance scheme, old age and disability pensions benefits, family and child bearing allowances, sickness benefits etc.

Ironically, Iceland with the 2019 estimated population of 364,260 is among the least in the world, it's the 180th in the list of countries by population.

Iceland operates a parliamentary representative democracy.  The country is divided into eight regions which are subdivided into 77 municipalities. The President who is the head of State is elected for a 4-year term. The President's term in office has no limit as far as he's physically and mentally fit to rule. The Prime Minister is the head of government while members of the Parliament known as Althingi are also elected every four years. Elections are through proportional representation from multi-member constituencies by universal adult suffrage for 18 years old and above. Though a unitary country; Icelandic Local Governments are responsible for primary education.

Education is a right for all citizens and also a right for all children who have stayed in the country for at least three months. It's funded by the Icelandic government and compulsory for students of 15 years and younger.

Pre-natal and infant medical care is provided without cost to all citizens as the Icelandic law provides the right to access to health care for all people who have been residing in the country for 6 months. Women hold equal rights as well as men under judicial and family law but citizenship is strictly by ancestry i.e. through Icelandic parents and not just by being born in the country while dual citizenship is not recognized.

The country Iceland, as small as it is, in its more than one thousand years of existence, has passed through stages of thin and thick of life. One historian summarises the experience of this country and the people thus.

“......frequently rocked by natural disasters… a turbulent and absorbing history of Norse settlement, literary genius, bitter feuding and foreign oppression.  Life in this harsh and unforgiving landscape was never going to be easy but the everyday challenges and hardships have culminated a modern Icelandic spirit that is highly aware of its stormy past yet remarkably resilient,  friendly individualistic, quietly innovative and justifiably proud."

Prior to 1918 that the country became a sovereign state , it had been under various foreign rule at one point or the other; Norway, Germany, Denmark and Britain. Twice in the 15th century, 1402-04 and 1494-95, Iceland witnessed devastating natural disasters and volcanic eruptions that killed approximately half of the population which led to serious migration of the people to mostly North American countries.

18th century was a period of decline and increasing poverty in Iceland when famine caused by volcanic eruptions and subsequent years of extremely cold weather plagued the country in 1780 and killed one fifth of its population.

Iceland was affected by both the 1st and 2nd world war. The country joined North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1949 and joined United Nations in 1946.

The history of Iceland particularly in the contemporary period could not be told without mentioning the 2016 Panama Papers scandal which shifted the global focus to the relatively small country.

Recall in 2016, a massive list of individuals and companies holding funds in small states in order to evade taxes in their home counties was released by Independent Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Panama Papers on May 10, 2016.

In Iceland angry citizens took over the streets barely hours after it was revealed that their then Prime Minister Sigmunduv Davio Gunnlaugsson and two members of his cabinet were implicated in the Panama Papers for tax evasion. The Prime Minister resigned only 2 hours after the news of his financial crime broke, infact,  he was the first casualty of the weighty exposure made possible through decades of information contained in the pages of the Panama Papers which eventually led to review of about 100 tax cases and 46 potential cases of tax evasion in Iceland.

The same fate befell America's top bailiff,  Mihran Poghosyan, Spanish Minister of Industry and Tourism, Jose Manuel Soria, Australian head of State owned bank, Hypo Landesbank Voralbery, FIFA's Ethic Committee member, an Uruguayan Lawyer, Juan Pedro Damiani etc ; they all resigned from their respective public offices as a result of their being implicated in the Panama Papers scandal.

Many countries whose citizens and public officials were named either in the Panama or Paradise Papers launched series of investigations against those indicted. However, it was another ball game entirely in Nigeria; initially the government was silent neither did it show any will to investigate the allegations or punish anyone who had been indicted where about 110 Nigerians and companies were allegedly involved,  Former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, erstwhile Governor of Delta State,  James Ibori, Sen Andy Uba, Late Ooni of Ife, Okunade Sijuwade and others were neither queried nor investigated rather about two years later the anti-graft agency mentioned it in passage that Nigerians indicted in Panama Papers scandal would be investigated. Nothing has happened since them while their counterparts elsewhere were made to face the music the alleged ones in Nigeria were pretending as if nothing happened,  Alhaji Abubakar Atiku later contested the 2019 presidential election in the country. That's Nigeria for us where everything goes!

Iceland is a Sub-Arctic country located out in the middle of the North Atlantic. In the 20th century Iceland transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the most developed.  The country has become the fastest growing travel destination in Europe with all the benefits in terms of economic growth and employment.

Iceland's character reflects both its homogeneity and its isolation and its people take care to preserve their traditions and language. In fact, the Icelandic laws are crafted in the native language while the mode of communication in the official parlance is the same indigenous language.

One distinctive feature of the country is the preservation of its ancient traditions and customs. For centuries Iceland has been known for its traditional industries which produce knitwear and other ancestral craft. An average Icelander is passionate about chess, hence, various chess clubs abound in the country and this explains a series of world class grand masters produced by Iceland.

Icelanders are proof that a small and homogeneous population can develop a rich and varied cultural life.

For centuries Icelandic main industries were fisheries, fishing processing and agriculture. In the 19th century,  70-80% of Icelanders lived by farming but there has been a steady decline over the years as 5% of the population are in the agricultural sector in 2019 while the main sources of the country's earnings now come from tourism, fisheries, hydropower generations, agriculture and manufacturing.

In 1952 Iceland, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden came together to set up Nordic Council, a council with no formal authority but simply advisory in nature. However, in 1986 Iceland tread the path of other members of the Council by granting citizens of the Nordic group the right to vote in its local elections only after 3 years of residence in the country.

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