In 1918, The Kingdom of Iceland was founded. In 1944, it changed to just Iceland.

I have researched about what Iceland was originally called, and apparently, it's first name was given to the person who is credited to discover the land, Naddoddr. Basically, he found it and named it Snowland. That was around 825. I am looking for what it was commonly & officially called around 1874~, that's like an entire millennium later...

Other things Iceland is called is (source: Wikipedia):

Islandia – directly from Icelandic language "Ísland"

Snelandia – a Latinization of the more poetic name Snæland

Insula Gardari – literally meaning "Island of Garðar", compare Garðarshólmi

I am not sure how common these names were or anything like that.

Now that I've attempted to prove that I've done my research, I think you can tell that I am still struggling to wrap my head around this, and that I can not find a complete answer.

If anyone knows anything, I'd appreciate the information, as I have been looking for quite a while.

Common Name: What people commonly call it, e.g. people commonly call "United States of America" just "United States" or "The States".

Official Name: The official name, what else am I supposed to say?

Also please note that this is my first time using StackExchange, I am usually just a lurker, but I don't focus to much on the format of the questions and answers, so I assume that the format of this question isn't very good...

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    For the official name, do you mean in English? Or in Icelandic? Because for English it's easy to find maps precisely from 1874: davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/… Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 6:48
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    English is fine. I never knew such a great open resource existed. I guess I didn't do enough research... Anyways, thanks for this. I appreciate the quick response. So I guess it was commonly just called Iceland, right? That's the answer I'll simply assume :) Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 6:57
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    It seems so, for the common name. In this map from 1736 the name was Island (historicpictoric.com/products/…), so it changed in those ~140 years. I couldn't find the Constitution of 1874 for the official name, but I can't speak Icelandic. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 7:22
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    One thing that should be mentioned is that the name of a country can vary widely by language. For Iceland / Island / Islandia / Islande / Islanda / IJsland it's rather clear, for e.g. Germany / Deutschland / Tyskland / Allemagne / Niemcy less so. So the question "what was XYZ commonly named" must always include by whom.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 9:44

1 Answer 1


There is no significant difference between English/Icelandic/Latin naming (In Latin it's Islandia).

We can read here that: "Oldest among the maps on which Iceland is shown is the Anglo-Saxon map, which is believed to have been made somewhere around the year 1000. If that dating is approximately right, this is the first known occurrence in writing of the name Iceland."

It must be the Anglo-Saxon Cotton World Map (c. 1040) (according to Wikipedia)

enter image description here

On worldhistory.org it says that "The "Cotton Map" is an Anglo-Saxon map of the world produced during the 12th Century. The map is oriented with East at the top, and West at the bottom, in the style of many Medieval maps. The Anglo-Saxon map is sometimes called the "Cotton Map" after Cotton MS Tiberius B.V., the manuscript in which it is drawn."

It is sometimes described as containing the first relatively realistic representation of the British isles.

Wikipedia says that "The cartographer is slightly confused by Iceland, depicting it both by a version of its classical name 'Thule', north-west of Britain, and as 'Island', logically linked with Scandinavia."

enter image description here

enter image description here

The map is based on ancient Roman maps, first drawing maybe about 10th century.

Modern maps using the same name Island/Islandia/Iceland become common in 16th century.

Map of Iceland by Abraham Ortelius (c. 1590):

enter image description here

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    Looked into it, and it appears Thule was just a Latin/Greek name for "some island way the heck up north". I count at least 9 different islands the name has been applied to, as well as a native North American culture and an asteroid. But Iceland was one of them.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 15:08
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    @T.E.D. - And it (kind of) also fits better the real location, as well as the shore line. It seems a rather common occurrence that old map makers with imprecise knowledge of multiple terms prefer to put them all on the map rather than abandon some in favor of the others.
    – cipricus
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 20:40
  • @T.E.D. - Wikipedia: By the Late Middle Ages and the early modern period, the Greco-Roman Thule was often identified with the real Iceland or Greenland. Sometimes Ultima Thule was a Latin name for Greenland, when Thule was used for Iceland. By the late 19th century, however, Thule was frequently identified with Norway. That is, 'Thule' meant Island when 'Ultima Thule' meant Greenland, and meant Norway when Iceland was only called Iceland. The map above providing another combination: Iceland is called Thule and 'Island' is probably Norway or Scandinavia, which appears as an island.
    – cipricus
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 20:53

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