Iceland, the westernmost European nation, is also home to the northernmost capital in the world, and numerous fjords jut into the volcanic-shaped landscape. Situated in the north Atlantic Ocean between Norway, Greenland, and the British Isles, Iceland boasts the world’s oldest democracy. With a Norse and Celtic heritage, Icelanders and their language have been well preserved over the centuries. Geographic and cultural isolation has preserved their language to the point that an Icelander can read 14th-century Old Norse writings. Icelandic culture is so adamantly protected that foreign things are given a name from local Icelandic rather than borrow names from other languages.
Iceland’s coalition government consists of a multiparty parliament. In the past century, Iceland has experienced a literary cultural expansion as they have sought national identity and strength through Icelandic epic literature. Despite a global shift away from whaling, Iceland still hunts whales as part of preserving its cultural heritage. Iceland’s economy has relied on fishing since the Middle Ages, although hydroelectric power plants, tourism, and aluminum smelting plants have since overcome the fishing industry.
Ninety percent of Icelanders claim Christianity, but about half of that number is nominal. A vibrant, Biblical Christianity and surrendered relationship with Jesus are foreign to most. While the Lutheran Church remains the state church, religious freedom abounds. Lutheran Free Churches in Iceland are undergoing the same spiritual downslide seen in most of the rest of Europe. Despite this, numerous congregations of different Christian denominations exhibit noteworthy cooperation. Lutheran Free Churches, Pentecostals, and charismatic churches in particular are drawing near in unity. While the nation is now sending Christian workers and missionaries abroad, Christian radio Lindin continues to spread the Gospel message across the island.