Iceland is a totally unique place. Its people, its scenery and its culture are sui generis. In geographic terms it is North Atlantic, barely European, but not New World, instead, quite literally, straddling the two. It was first discovered by Irish monks and then settled by Vikings, and the sons and daughters of these Vikings, in turn, discovered North America about 5 centuries before Columbus, but did not stay. Culturally, Iceland is Nordic in heritage, but not Scandinavian. Down through its history, after a few centuries of early independence, it was under the often brutal thumb of the Norwegian and Danish kings before reasserting its independence from Denmark in the turmoil of World War II. Its gene pool is a mix of Viking and Irish blood, and its language is a time capsule from 1000 years ago. Unlike other European languages, all readers of modern Icelandic can read their earliest sagas as written 1000 years ago.