QUIZ: Which influential Icelander are you?

Iceland may have a population of just over 330,000 people (all with equally unpronounceable names) but that doesn't stop it churning out a stream of globally-renowned people.

QUIZ: Which influential Icelander are you?
Photo: sam741002 /Depositphotos

You might not know them all by name but many of their innovations in key sectors like data centers, life sciences and energy dependent industries have changed and shaped the world as we know it.

Take The Local's quiz below to find out which influential Icelander you are.

Which influential Icelander are you?



Björk Guðmundsdóttir is an Icelandic music phenomenon. With a career spanning four decades, she is famous for her unique and eclectic musical style that is influenced by a range of different genres. Born in Reykjavik, no fewer than 31 of Björk's singles have reached the top 40 on pop charts around the world. Her most famous hits include “It's Oh So Quiet”, “Army of Me”, and “Hyperballad”.

Hjalmar Gislason


A self-professed 'tech nerd', Hjalmar Gislason is the founder of four software

companies and currently VP of Data at Business Intelligence company Qlik.

Hjalmar joined Qlik through the acquisition of DataMarket, a company he

founded in 2008. He is an angel investor and advisor to several

Icelandic startup companies

Össur Kristinsson


Össur Kristinsson is a pioneer of silicone technology. Himself a prosthetist and a prosthetic user, he is the founder of Össur, a company that develops, manufactures and sells non-invasive orthopaedics equipment, including bracing and support products, compression therapy, and prosthetics. His passion for boats led to his invention of the ÖK Hull, a revolutionary hull-and-keel technology predicted to ultimately disrupt marine industries globally.

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir


Vigdís Finnbogadóttir served as the fourth President of Iceland from 1980 to 1996. She was the world's first democratically directly elected female president. With a presidency of exactly sixteen years, she also remains the longest-serving elected female head of state of any country to date.

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir


Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is a politician and previously served as the first female Prime Minister of Iceland as well as the world's first openly lesbian head of government. Until her retirement from elective office in 2012, Jóhanna was Iceland's longest-serving member of Parliament. In 1994, when she lost a bid to head the Social Democratic Party, she raised her fist and declared “Minn tími mun koma!” (“My time will come!”), a phrase that became a popular Icelandic expression.

Hilmar Veigar


Hilmar has been CEO of Icelandic video game developer CCP Games since 2004. Under his management, the critically-acclaimed spacefaring game EVE Online has celebrated ten consecutive years of subscriber growth. In September 2018, Hilmar announced he had agreed to sell CCP to Black Desert Online creator Pearl Abyss of South Korea for $425 million. Hilmar is also active on a number of boards and committees involved with Icelandic information technology and innovation.

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This content was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Invest in Iceland.



Denmark and Iceland clash over priceless medieval manuscripts

They recount tales of Viking raids, Norse history, kings and gods: a priceless collection of medieval manuscripts, bequeathed by an Icelandic scholar to the University of Copenhagen in the 18th century, that Iceland now wants back.

Denmark and Iceland clash over priceless medieval manuscripts
An Icelandic medieval manuscript of the Arnamagnaean Collection at the University of Copenhagen. Photo: Suzanne Reitz/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

The UN cultural organisation UNESCO has called them “the single most important collection of early Scandinavian manuscripts in existence”, with the earliest one dating from the 12th century.

Some of the texts — known as the Arnamagnaean Collection — have already been returned to Reykjavik, but 1,400 documents are still locked away in Copenhagen.

The jewel of the collection is an almost complete early 15th century copy of “Heimskringla” — the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas, originally written in the 13th century by Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson.

Unlike many Icelandic mediaeval manuscripts, which have few decorative flourishes, this version of the Heimskringla is richly illustrated with intricate red lettering on each page.

The Arnamagnaean Collection is named after scholar Arni Magnusson, a historian and literature and language expert who was born in Iceland but died in 1730 in Copenhagen, where he left his 3,000 or so manuscripts.

Each time a document from the collection is borrowed from the university, it is insured for up to five million kroner (670,000 euros).

Keen to ensure good relations with its former colony, Denmark granted Iceland's recurring request to return part of the collection in the 1960s. A treaty signed in 1965 divvied up the goods.

In line with that agreement, more than half of the manuscripts were turned over to Iceland between 1971 and 1997.

The division of documents between the two nations had for years been uncontroversial, but Iceland's Culture and Education Minister Lilja Alfredsdottir now wants more of the collection given back.

She has raised the profile of the issue and linked it to the construction of a new institute dedicated to Magnusson, which will hold an exhibition of mediaeval documents.

“We think it's important that the manuscripts be located in Iceland to a greater extent,” Alfredsdottir told AFP.

Matthew Driscoll, the professor in charge of the collection at the University of Copenhagen, is opposed to the idea, arguing that the remaining manuscripts are part of Denmark's cultural heritage.

The two nations have an intertwined history, Iceland having been under Danish rule from the 1600s until it declared independence in 1944.

Driscoll says the University of Copenhagen has cooperated closely with Reykjavik, digitising all of the works and making them available to researchers.

“These are not things that have been acquired illegally or stolen… Arni owned those manuscripts himself, he was given them or he bought them, and then he left them in a completely legal way to the University of Copenhagen,” Driscoll said.

And even in Iceland, there are mixed opinions about whether the texts should be returned.

Haraldur Bernhardsson, a professor of medieval studies at the University of Iceland, said he fully agreed with the need to make cultural heritage visible for future generations.

But he added: “I think we can do that in collaboration with the Arnamagnaean Collection in Copenhagen.”

Keeping all the Icelandic works in Reykjavik would actually limit the number of scholars and academics who study them, some academics say.

“If you really wanted to request Icelandic manuscripts from abroad, you should perhaps prioritise manuscripts that are not currently being studied, which is obviously not the case with the Arni Magnusson collection,” said Bernhardsson.

READ ALSO: Danish parliament speaker shunned by Icelandic MPs