Settled by Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) immigrants during
the late 9th and 10th centuries A.D., Iceland boasts the world’s oldest
functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, established in 930.
Independent for over 300 years, Iceland was subsequently ruled by
Norway and Denmark. Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated
The Indus Valley civilization, one of the world’s oldest, flourished
during the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C. and extended into northwestern
India. Aryan tribes from the northwest infiltrated onto the Indian
subcontinent about 1500 B.C.; their merger with the earlier Dravidian
inhabitants created the classical Indian culture. The Maurya Empire of
The Dutch began to colonize Indonesia in the early 17th century; Japan
occupied the islands from 1942 to 1945. Indonesia declared its
independence shortly before Japan’s surrender, but it required four
years of sometimes brutal fighting, intermittent negotiations, and UN
mediation before the Netherlands agreed to transfer sovereignty in
1949. A period of...
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979
after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza PAHLAVI
was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces led by Ayatollah
Ruhollah KHOMEINI established a theocratic system of government with
ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar
Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain
during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of
Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen
years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. A “republic” was proclaimed in 1958,...
Celtic tribes arrived on the island between 600-150 B.C. Invasions by
Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when
King Brian BORU defeated the Danes in 1014. English invasions began in
the 12th century and set off more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish
struggle marked by fierce rebellions and...
of Man Part of the Norwegian Kingdom of the Hebrides until the 13th
century when it was ceded to Scotland, the isle came under the British
crown in 1765. Current concerns include reviving the almost extinct
Manx Gaelic language. Isle of Man is a British crown dependency but is
not part of the...
Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of
Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states,
an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis
defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions
between the two sides. The territories Israel occupied...
Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the
peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King
Victor EMMANUEL II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close
in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist
dictatorship. His alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy’s...