Sveinn Björnsson (svān byörn´sôn), 1881–1952, Icelandic diplomat and political leader, first president of Iceland (1944–52). A distinguished lawyer, he was elected to the Althing (Icelandic parliament) for the first time in 1914. From 1912 to 1920 he was president of the Reykjavík city council. During World War I, Björnsson undertook numerous diplomatic missions to Great Britain and the United States and afterward served as minister to Denmark (1920–41). He was regent of Iceland from 1941 to 1944, when, on Iceland's independence from Denmark, he became president. He was reelected in 1945 and 1949.