DAILY FEATURE: By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (December 01, 2020) – In Issue 119 of Steve Kovacs Fun with Maps we learn Iceland is a misnomer.

Steve Kovacs (Provided)

Classic misdirection, or is it?

There are two leading theories on the source of Iceland’s name. 

The more romantic is that the early Scandinavian settlers wanted to discourage others to follow them to this island with relatively mild climate, thanks to the Gulf Stream.  Thus, they named it Island, which translates to Iceland in English.   And, they named the other island explored about the same time Gronland, or Greenland in English, to help direct gullible folks to that less hospitable island.

The more likely story is that early Norwegian settlers arriving in 870 experienced an uncharacteristically harsh winter, leading them to name the island to its current name.  

Iceland became a Commonwealth in 930.  It united with Norway in 1292, which made sense as most of the original settlers were Norwegians.  This then was followed by Danish rule for about five centuries.  Iceland became a sovereign nation again in 1918 on this day.

Here is Abraham Ortelius’ map of Iceland from his small Atlas issued in 1602.     

Map of Iceland – 1602 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.