About The Foundation


The Leifur Eiriksson Foundation, established in 2001 and governed by a board of trustees appointed by the Central Bank of Iceland, the Icelandic Government, and the University of Virginia, was founded for the purpose of providing recognition and financial assistance to further scholarly study and research through graduate student exchanges between Iceland and the United States. This cooperative undertaking is a natural outgrowth of a number of cordial and productive relationships between Iceland and the students and faculty of the University of Virginia over the last fifty years.

About The Coins

For the millennial celebration in Iceland, the Central Bank of Iceland proposed minting a silver coin commemorating Leifur Eiriksson’s discovery of North America about the year 1000. The Central Bank suggested to members of Congress that the United States might be interested in a joint celebration by issuing its own silver coin. This led to the Leif Ericson Commemorative Coin Act. In the year 2000, the U.S. Mint issued a United States commemorative silver dollar to recognize the achievement of Leif Ericson (Leifur Eiriksson in Icelandic) and his Icelandic countrymen. The Central Bank of Iceland in turn issued a 1000 kronur coin. The Icelandic coin was struck by the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia and was sold alone and as a limited edition set with the U.S. coin. The surcharge from the sale of the coins was contributed to the Leifur Eiriksson Foundation for student fellowships.

About the US-IS Connection

The friendship between Iceland and the United States goes back at least into the nineteenth century when large numbers of Icelanders immigrated to North America during economic hard times at home. As a percentage of their national population this immigration equaled or exceeded that from any other nation. Many of these “Western” Icelanders are conscious of continuing to benefit from their two cultures, American and Icelandic. In more recent times, Icelanders and Americans have continued to enrich the artistic, scientific, and commercial life of each other’s countries, as well as maintaining a long-lasting partnership in the military security of the North Atlantic.


University of Virginia
University of Iceland