East Iceland's history is older than the settlement of the Nordic people in Iceland. It's coast is closest to Europe, and the first visitors from there could have been the Romans looking for the legendary island of the Greek Pythias "Ultima Thule." Roman coins dating back to the 1sr century AD were found near Djúpivogur. According to the sagas, Irish hermits called Papar were already here when the Vikings came late in the 8th century, which is reflected by place names such as the island of Papey. A bit further south at Geithellnar, the first settlers, Ingólfur Anarson and his foster brother Hjörleifur spent the winter on their first expedition to Iceland.
The 19th century was prosperous due to herring fishing and whaling and for awhile the world's largest whaling station was in Mjóifjörður, run by the Norwegians. The first telegraph cable connecting Iceland to Europe came ashore in Seyðisfjörður in 1906, now the port for Iceland's only international ferry providing car ferry connections to Denmark via the Faroe Islands.
Fishing is still the main source of income in the eastern fjords, although tourism and agriculture are also important to the economy, especially raising sheep, cattle, and horses.
East Iceland offers most of what makes Iceland a unique place with sharp contrasts: from the sense of solitude in the vicinity of the vast wilderness of Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier to the sea, from broad barren sands to valleys with woodlands and colorful vegetation, from deserted fjords to prospering towns, from geothermal pools to clear mountain streams, beautiful waterfalls, and steep fjords extending like mirrors between pristine shores. It's a place to catch salmon, swim, go bird watching, sport reindeer, and hike the trails.