Laki Volcano began erupting in 1783 in southern Iceland. The eruption, spewing 120 million tons of sulfur dioxide and lasting eight months, killed 10,000 people immediately, and caused weather changes all over the world. It caused droughts in Europe, Northern Africa, and parts of Asia. Experts estimate that probably five million people died of starvation or diseases related to the volcano over a period of seven years.
Iceland celebrates Independence Day. It gained its independence from Denmark in 1944. Vikings settled on the island in the ninth century AD. According to the CIA World Factbook, Iceland is about the size of Kentucky. About 315,000 people live on this hotspot for volcanic activity. Less than one percent of the land can be farmed. Reykjavik is the capital.
Iceland and the United States celebrate Leif Erikson Day. The Viking may have discovered North America in the year 1000. Idea: Children could research the evidence and decide which European found the Americas first. October 9 has no association to Erikson; the date was picked because the first ship filled with Norwegian immigrants landed on October 9, 1825. The day was first recognized by Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. Every president since then has honored the day. Some people believe we should honor Leif Erikson Day rather than Columbus Day. Children could learn more about the debate at: Leif Erikson Day.
North American Treaty was signed in 1949. Twelve nations formed the original North American Treaty Organization: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. Greece and Turkey became members in 1951, and West Germany joined in 1954. Spain became the last member in 1982. The main purpose of NATO is protection; an attack against one member is an attack against all members. Idea: Children could locate these countries on a world map and decide whether all countries benefit equally from this treaty.