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Iceland and the US

The United States of America was the first government to recognize the establishment of the Republic of Iceland on June 17, 1944, thereby laying the foundation for the strong friendship between the two respective nations. Relations between Iceland and the New World can be traced back to Leifur Eiriksson's westward voyage, Leifur and his fellow companions became  the first Europeans to set foot in North America in the year 1000 A.D.

Below you can find more information on the history of the bilateral relations of Iceland and the United States, Icelandic associations in the US, Icelandic-Americans and on Icelandic companies in the US.

The primary objective of the Embassy of Iceland is to foster political, economic, and cultural relations between the United States and Iceland. Furthermore, the Embassy´s mission is to be a conduit for communication between the two respective governments and thereby enhancing the bilateral relationship. Another important function of the Embassy is attending to the interests of Icelandic citizens vis-à-vis the United States. 

The Embassy will happily assist anyone in need of information regarding Iceland. The Embassy kindly points out that US citizens in need of consular assistance regarding their dealings with or in Iceland, should primarily turn to the United States Embassy in Reykjavík Iceland.

Brief History

Iceland acquired home-rule through the enactment of the Act of Union between Iceland and Denmark on December 1, 1918, whereupon Iceland and Denmark became two separate states with the same monarch. One of the articles of the Act of Union stipulated that Denmark should be entrusted with the conduct of the foreign affairs of Iceland. However, Iceland directed the course of its foreign policy, but the Danish foreign service administered this policy due to the fact that at the time Iceland had no foreign service.

When Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany on 9 April 1940, all communications between Iceland and Denmark were severed. No longer was it possible for Iceland to communicate with the King and no instructions could be given to the Danish Foreign Minister regarding Icelandic foreign affairs. The following day, Althingi the Icelandic Parliament, passed two resolutions: Royal power was provisionally transferred to the cabinet in Reykjavík and Iceland assumed the conduct of its foreign affairs. Accordingly, the Foreign Service of Iceland dates from 10 April 1940.

Diplomatic Relations

The beginning of diplomatic relations between Iceland and the US can be traced back to July 7, 1941, when U.S. forces came to Iceland in order to supplement and eventually replace British forces during WWII. Britain had occupied Iceland 15 months year earlier in order to achieve a strategic position in the North-Atlantic, fundamental to Allied forces.

It is noteworthy, that the arrival of US forces in Iceland was at the behest of the Government of Iceland, under conditions that the US accepted and observed. Concurrently, this agreement marked the end of Iceland´s declaration of neutrality in world affairs in the Act of Union between Iceland and Denmark from 1918. This was further to be substantiated by Iceland´s later agreement with the U.S. on the Keflavik base in 1946, with Iceland being a founding member of NATO in 1949, and with the conclusion of the Bilateral Defense Agreement between Iceland and the US in 1951 (see chapter below).The arrival of US forces in Iceland coincided with Roosevelt´s Proclamation of Unlimited National Emergency (in which he mentioned Iceland specifically) on May 27, 1941, and on the basis of a bilateral defence agreement between the two countries, concluded by a Exchange of Messages July 1, 1941. This agreement was ratified by the  Parliament of Iceland on July 10, 1941, and President Roosevelt informed the US Congress of the exchange in a letter dated July 7, 1941, asking the Congress´s permission that diplomatic representatives be exchanged between the two countries.

On April 27, 1942, it was announced in Washington D.C. that the US had fully taken over command in Iceland. The number of US forces in Iceland peaked in 1943 when approximately 47,000 troops were stationed in Iceland. After that, the number of troops gradually declined, being around 10,000 in the fall of 1944.

The first Icelandic Ambassador to the US, Ambassador Thor Thors, presented his credentials to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on November 19, 1941, thereby marking the opening of the Embassy of Iceland in Washington D.C. The Embassy of Iceland was at that time located on 3839 Massachusetts Avenue, in the Ambassador´s home. On June 17, 1944, the United States of America became the first country to officially recognize Iceland as a republic. That event in particular, based on the significant diplomatic and security relations during WWII, laid the foundation for the longstanding and ongoing friendship and alliance between Iceland and the US.

Defence Cooperation

Iceland concluded a bilateral Defence Agreement with the United States in 1951. Apart from the territorial defence of Iceland, the primary missions of US forces based at Keflavík (the Iceland Defence Force) included air defence, maritime surveillance and early warning in the North Atlantic area. In 1993 Iceland and the United States reassessed the mutual defence requirements at Keflavík, based on the 1951 bilateral defence agreement. The results, contained in an understanding signed on January 4 1994, called for reductions in force levels to reflect the relaxation of tension in the North Atlantic region. In September 2006 the Keflavik base was closed down following an Agreement.  A Joint Understanding was also negotiated in which both sides affirm their continuing commitment to the 1951 Defense Agreement. The Joint Understanding also lists bilateral activities designed to create a basis for future cooperation between Iceland and the United States in the areas of defence and security.

A few Milestones in History

12/18/1918     Iceland independent under the Danish King

05/10/1940      British forces occupy Iceland

05/27/1941      Roosevelt proclaims Unlimited National Emergency

07/01/1941      Defence agreement between Iceland and the US

07/07/1941      US forces arrive in Iceland

11/19/1941      Icelandic Ambassador to the US presents credentials

06/17/1944      US recognizes the Republic of Iceland

04/04/1949      Iceland signs the North-Atlantic Treaty 

05/05/1951     The Bilateral Defense Agreement concluded  

05/31/1973      Nixon meets Pompidou in Reykjavik

09/30/1986      Reagan Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik


Icelandic-American Organizations

Several Icelandic associations, publications and organizations operate in the US, focusing on Icelandic-US relations. Their information is below (updated 3-2018).

Icelandic National League of North America:

President: Sunna Olafson Furstenau
2843 27th St S
Fargo, ND  58103
Phone: 701-200-1694
e-mail: [email protected]

INL Office:
Executive Secretary: Gwen Grattan
#103 - 94 1st Ave., Gimli, MB R0C 1B1
Phone: 204-642-5897
E-mail: [email protected]


The Society of Icelanders in Arizona
President: David Hill
43540 W Bravo Ct
Maricopa, AZ 85138
Tel; 480-782-0606
E-mail; [email protected]

Sun City
Scandinavian Club of Sun City
P.O. Box 1397, Sun City West, AZ 85372-1397


Los Angeles
The Icelandic American Association of Southern California
President: Bára Floyd - IAA President
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 323-397-1893
Facebook page

San Francisco
Icelandic Association of Northern California
President: Laufey Gunnarsdóttir
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.iceland-usa.org

District of Columbia

Washington D.C.
Icelandic Association of Washington, D.C.
President: Mr. Gunnar Birgisson
P.O. Box 1616, Woodbridge, VA 22195
Tel: 325-370-3324
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: icelanddc.com


Icelandic American Association of South Florida
President: Mr. Matthías Eggertsson
204 E. McNab Road, Pompano Bech, FL 33060
Tel: 1-954-788-2450
E-mail:[email protected]

Icelandic American Association of Florida
President: Erna Neal
e-mail: [email protected]

Leifur Eiriksson - Icelandic American Association of Central Florida
President: Mr. Óttar Hreinsson E-mail: [email protected] Tel:(407)-249-1450


Icelandic Association Georgia
On Facebook "ICE in ATL"


Icelandic Association of Chicago
President: Mr. Einar Steinsson
Website: www.facebook.com/IcelandicAssociationChicago


Kansas City
The Icelandic Association in Kansas City
President: Mr. J.S. Skaptason
3905 West 120 Terrace, Leawood, KS 66209
Tel: (913) 491-4679; Fax: (913) 491-0636


The Icelandic Society in Boston
Website: http://www.isfolkid.net


Fargo-Moorhead Icelandic Klub
President: Andrea Abrahamson
c/o Susan Sigurdsson - Newsletter Editor
1402 15th Street South, Moorhead, MN 56560
E-mail: [email protected] and [email protected]

The Icelandic Hekla Club
President: Dianne O'Konski
E-mail: [email protected]>

The Icelandic American Association of Minnesota
President: Sunna Olafson Furstenau
2843 27th St S
Fargo, ND  58103
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://inlofna.org/minnesota/

New York

New York
The Icelandic Society of New York
President: Ms. Begga Laxdal
E-mail: [email protected]
Consulate General of Iceland 800 Third Avenue, 36th Floor New York, NY 10022

North Dakota

Icelandic Heritage Society
President: Ms. Eva Goodman
P.O. Box 862 , Minot, North Dakota 58702

Icelandic Communities Association
P.O. Box 063, Mountain, North Dakota 58262
Tel: 701-993-8268 Fax: 701-993-8239


Dallas - Fort Worth
Icelandic Association of the Dallas - Fort Worth Area
Contact: Ms. Heida S. Reed
E-mail: [email protected]


Spanish Fork
Icelandic Association of Utah
President: Lacey Nielson
P.O.Box 874, Spanish Fork, UT 84660
E-mail: [email protected]


Icelandic American Association of Hampton Roads
President: Ms. Sesselja Siggeirsdóttir
185 Commodore Drive, Norfolk, VA 23503
Tel: (757) 587-1068
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.facebook.com/Icelandic-Association-Virginia-118737471489500/


Icelandic Club of Greater Seattle
President: Haraldur Gunnlaugsson
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://www.icelandseattle.com/
PO Box 70102,
Seattle, Washington, 98127, United States


Lögberg Heimskringla
Joan Eyolfson-Cadham, Managing Editor
206-900 St. James Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.lh-inc.ca


Fiske Icelandic Collection
Curator: Mr. Patrick J. Stevens
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY 14853-5302
Tel: 607-255-3530
Fax: 607-255-9524
E-mail: [email protected]


Nonprofit organisation,
Icelandic Roots
Genealogy, History, Photos, Maps, Scholarships, and more.
Website: www.icelandicroots.com

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