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Konungsríkið Ísland
Kongeriget Island
Kingdom of Iceland
Personal union with the Kingdom of Denmark

Flag Coat of arms
Capital Reykjavík
Language(s) Icelandic¹, Danish¹
Government Constitutional monarchy
 - 1918-1944 Kristján X
Prime Minister (last five)
 - 1927-1932 Tryggvi Þórhallsson
 - 1932-1934 Ásgeir Ásgeirsson
 - 1934-1942 Hermann Jónasson
 - 1942 Ólafur Thors
 - 1942-1944 Björn Þórðarson
Legislature Parliament
Historical era Interwar period
 - Kingdom established 1 December 1918
 - Fall of Denmark 9 April 1940
 - British invasion 10 May 1940
 - Republic 17 June 1944
 - 1944 103,000 km2 (39,769 sq mi)
 - 1944 est. 127,791 
     Density 1.2 /km2  (3.2 /sq mi)
¹ Both were de facto official languages.

The Kingdom of Iceland was a constitutional monarchy lasting from 1 December 1918 until 17 June 1944, when the republic was proclaimed.

Origins in Danish rule

Iceland had been under the control of the Danish Crown since 1380, although formally a Norwegian possession until 1814. In 1874, a thousand years after the first acknowledged settlement, Denmark granted Iceland home rule, which again was expanded in 1904. The constitution, written in 1874, was revised in 1903, and a minister for Icelandic affairs, residing in Reykjavík, was made responsible to the Althing, the Icelandic parliament.

Establishment of the Kingdom

The Act of Union, a 1 December 1918 agreement with Denmark, recognized Iceland as a fully sovereign state united with Denmark under a common king. The Kingdom of Iceland established its own flag and asked that Denmark represent its foreign affairs and defense interests. The Act would be up for revision in 1940 and could be revoked three years later, if an agreement wasn't reached.

World War II and the establishment of the Republic

The German occupation of Denmark on 9 April 1940 severed communications between Iceland and Denmark. As a result, on 10 April, the Parliament of Iceland, Alþingi, elected to take control of foreign affairs, electing a provisional governor, Sveinn Björnsson, who later became the republic's first president. During the first year of World War II, Iceland strictly enforced a position of neutrality, taking action against both the United Kingdom and German forces violating the laws of neutrality. On 10 May 1940, Operation Fork was launched and UK military forces began an invasion of Iceland by sailing into Reykjavík harbor. The government of Iceland issued a protest against what it called a "flagrant violation" of Icelandic neutrality. On the day of the invasion, prime minister Hermann Jónasson read a radio announcement telling Icelanders to treat the British troops with the politeness as guests. The Allied occupation of Iceland would last throughout the war.

At the peak of their occupation of Iceland, the UK had around 25,000 troops stationed in Iceland, all but eliminating unemployment in the Reykjavík area and other strategically important places. In July 1941 responsibility for Iceland's defense passed to the United States of America under a U.S.-Icelandic defense agreement. The UK needed all the forces it could muster closer to home and thus coerced the Alþingi into agreeing to a U.S. occupation force. Up to 40,000 soldiers were stationed on the island, outnumbering all grown Icelandic men. (At the time Iceland had a population of around 120,000.)

Following a referendum on 24 May, 1944, Iceland formally became an independent republic on 17 June 1944. Since Denmark was still occupied by Nazi Germany, many Danes felt offended that the step should have been taken at this time. Despite this the Danish king, Christian X, sent a message of congratulations to the Icelandic people.



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