Icelandic is the official language of Iceland, spoken by the entire population (about 320,000). The Icelandic language is considered one of the cornerstones of the Icelandic culture, in large part due to a strong literary heritage. Since the 18th century, when the Icelandic language was under threat from Danish influence, a movement of language purism rose, and has since been the dominant linguistic policy in the country. Icelandic does not usually adopt foreign words for new concepts, opting instead to coin new words, or give old words new meaning, to keep the language free of outside influence.
Centuries of isolation have helped to insulate the country's Nordic culture from external influence; a prominent example is the preservation of the Icelandic language, which remains the closest to Old Norse of all modern Scandinavian languages except Faroese.
Icelandic literature is extremely popular, in particular the sagas and eddas which were written during the High and Late Middle Ages. Icelanders are avid consumers of literature, with the highest number of bookstores per capita in the world. For its size, Iceland imports and translates more international literature than any other nation. Iceland also has the highest per capita publication of books and magazines with around 10% of the population publishing a book in their lifetime.
Another reason why the Icelandic publishing industry is so healthy is due to government grants. The government runs the Icelandic Literary Fund, which funnels money into the publishing industry and supports literary efforts, translations and writing.
Literature seems to indeed be a passion on the island in the North Atlantic. Each year 1,500 book titles are published in Iceland. In recent years, Iceland has been struggling with a severe financial crisis. However, book sales have not suffered, in fact, Iceland is experiencing a book boom. This island nation has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world.