Damage caused from earthquakes and magma beneath the town of Grindavik, on November 22. Residents have been evacuated amid an imminent volcanic eruption. Micah Garen/Getty Images

I remember the first time I experienced an earthquake in Iceland. I ran for the nearest door frame – that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? – under the sloped ceilings of my attic apartment in one of Reykjavík’s iconic bárujárn houses.

I remember being frightfully aware of my fate should the old timber frame and corrugated iron siding decide to simply give way.

The shaking ended in seconds, but my knees quaked and my heart raced a while longer.

I remember the first time I saw an active volcano. It was the eruption of Fimmvörðuháls in March 2010; the precursor to the infamous Eyjafjallajökull eruption that began just a month later, spewing forth ash and memes about its impossible-to-pronounce name in equal measure.…  Seguir leyendo »

A crack in a road in the fishing town of Grindavík, which was evacuated due to volcanic activity, in Iceland on Wednesday. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

It is a surreal state, padding to the kitchen to blend a smoothie, while less than 25 miles away the ground is poised to split open and swallow a village.

The wild prospect — too huge to grasp, really — is that we residents of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, now live next to a reawakened volcanic system that might erupt any day, and every few months for the next few years, or even decades. It had lain dormant for 800 years until it rumbled back to life 2½ years ago.

More than 3,000 people have fled their homes as earthquakes portend an eruption.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iceland's First Lady Eliza Reid (second from left) and her husband Iceland's President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson (second from right) greet school children in Reykjavik, in 2019.

One of the most vivid snapshots of my early years in Iceland is from an unusually mundane location: a board meeting at the male-dominated software startup where I worked in Reykjavík in 2003.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to those (mostly men) in attendance. But to me -- a 20-something immigrant from Canada -- it wasn't that the board's chair was running the meeting while her young daughter nursed at her breast, but rather the unremarked banality of it all: no one batted an eye at this.

Other moments over the nearly two decades since have gradually revealed to me a society where women are treated on par with men, or, at least, the intention to do so exists.…  Seguir leyendo »

The writer watched the Iceland-Argentina match with her family and friends at a rooftop bar in Reykjavik. The writer watched the Iceland-Argentina match with her family and friends at a rooftop bar in Reykjavik.

Because my husband, Luke, and I are both former football players and we want our boys to love the game as we do, we packed our bags and our sons — Ellis, 2, and Dane, 5 — on a nine-hour flight to Reykjavik. Tiny Iceland, for the first time, made the World Cup. And the United States did not.

Our plan: to traverse volcanoes and glaciers in the never-ending daylight; whisper in our sons’ ears of trolls, fairies and elves; and hoist them on our shoulders as thousands Viking-clap in unison on a cobblestone street. We hoped it would all get conflated in their little hearts and minds as one magical thing: football.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘At the end of 2017, Iceland got its second female prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, a 41-year-old with three young sons.’ Photograph: Birgir Thor Hardarson/EPA

On 24 October 1975, the women of Iceland refused to show up for work. They refused to cook, clean or look after their children. Basically, they went on strike. And that day, the shops in Iceland ran out of the only convenience food available at the time: sausages.

Call it symbolism, but by going on strike the women of Iceland were calling for men to respect their work and demanding equal pay.

This week Iceland became the first country in the world to make companies prove they are not paying women less than men for the same work. Employers are rushing to comply with the new rules to avoid fines.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sept. 15 — in a shockingly quick implosion — Iceland’s government collapsed, again. This is the third male-led center-right government in a row to lose the confidence of the Icelandic population before serving out its full term.

Why do Icelanders keep electing these coalitions that keep collapsing?

Iceland is a microstate of some 300,000, in which outrage reverberates quickly through the Internet echo chamber. Despite having an elected president with some policymaking authority, Iceland is mostly a parliamentary democracy where coalition governments are common. In recent cycles, the multiparty system has included several new parties, such as the Pirate Party, which have shaken up the system.…  Seguir leyendo »

A la suite de la publication des « Panama papers » par l’International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) au début du mois d’avril 2016, l’Islande a fait les gros titres de la presse du monde entier.

Les « Panama papers » révélaient que six cents hommes d’affaires islandais, parmi lesquels Dorrit Moussaieff, épouse de l’ex-président Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, et trois ministres – le premier ministre (du Parti progressiste), et les ministres des finances et de l’intérieur (tous deux membres du Parti de l’indépendance) –, possédaient [aux Iles Vierges] des entreprises enregistrées auprès du cabinet Mossack Fonseca.

Des manifestations de masse organisées devant le parlement islandais ont exigé la tenue de nouvelles élections.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters gathered in front of the Parliament building in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Wednesday. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Iceland, population around 330,000, is the most peaceful country in the world. This is a country where violent crime is rare and blackmailers give receipts. We are not used to seeing ourselves grouped with the most corrupt governments in the world. Yet here we are, in the foreground of every article about the Panama Papers.

This week our prime minister resigned, then appeared to un-resign only to resign again, after it came to light that his wife owned a shell company incorporated in a tax haven. He probably hoped the scandal would blow over like the one last year, when a leak revealed that another minister had an account on Ashley Madison, the website for people seeking affairs, with the username Icehot1.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lorsque la faillite de Lehman Brothers déclencha l'effondrement du secteur financier islandais, en octobre 2008, les bilans combinés des banques du pays équivalaient à dix fois son produit intérieur brut (PIB).

Peu après la chute des banques islandaises, celles d'Irlande, du Portugal, de Grèce, d'Italie, d'Espagne et de nombreux autres pays furent prises à leur tour dans la tourmente. Les gouvernements de ces pays employèrent toutes sortes de moyens pour éviter un effondrement financier généralisé, notamment en retirant les actifs douteux du bilan des banques en difficulté, en garantissant le paiement des dettes, et même en apportant de l'argent frais aux établissements en péril.…  Seguir leyendo »

Much too often, diplomacy is behind the curve in struggling with developments unfolding in ways not foreseen.

But when the Arctic Council meets in Kiruna in northern Sweden in the next few days, it is a rare example of a framework set up to deal with events well before they really start to happen, thus making it possible to shape events rather than reacting to things that have already gone wrong.

The Arctic Council was set up between the eight Arctic states, with representatives of the indigenous peoples as permanent participants, in Ottawa in 1996. But in its first years it hardly registered on the international scene.…  Seguir leyendo »

With global warming rapidly melting Arctic sea ice and glaciers making valuable stores of energy and minerals more accessible, voices of doom are warning of inevitable competition and potential conflict — a new “Great Game” among the five Arctic coastal nations.

In fact, the Arctic states of North America, Europe and Russia, working with indigenous peoples and a number of non-Arctic states, already have taken steps to ensure just the opposite: that the Arctic remains a zone of cooperation, peace and stable, sustainable development.

The Arctic Council — the intergovernmental organization for the eight Arctic states: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States — has created a forum for cooperation and momentum toward a responsible approach to the region’s issues.…  Seguir leyendo »

"¡Islandia es la solución!”, cantaban los manifestantes en los albores del 15-M. En esa primavera del 2011 Islandia había dado un viraje político y económico radical bajo la presión del movimiento social de protesta contra la crisis financiera y los partidos que la causaron. Una coalición de socialdemócratas y verdes ganó las elecciones desbancando a los partidos tradicionales que habían controlado el país desde 1927. Los bancos fueron nacionalizados, algunos banqueros fueron juzgados y encarcelados, el primer ministro fue llevado ante los tribunales, ciudadanos y Gobierno se negaban a pagar la deuda externa derivada de la especulación bancaria. Y una nueva Constitución debatida y enmendada por la ciudadanía a través de internet iba a ser aprobada por el Parlamento.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iceland's long-isolated existence was broken by World War II and the Cold War when its strategic location at the gateway to the North Atlantic and the Arctic were key to the defense of NATO and the United States. But with the disintegration of the Soviet Union the island country seemed again to pass into irrelevance, and in 2006 the last American military aircraft were withdrawn from the Keflavik Air Base. Now the situation is changing again, as the melting north polar ice opens new ocean routes and access to vast natural resources.

According to a 2008 estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey, 13 percent of all the unexploited oil, 30 percent of natural gas and 20 percent of the natural gas liquid resources are located under the seabed of the Arctic.…  Seguir leyendo »

El interés por las políticas económicas de los países pequeños suele verse confinado a unos pocos especialistas. Pero hay momentos en que las experiencias de los pequeños países se interpretan en todo el mundo como prueba de que un cierto enfoque de política es el que mejor funciona.

Actualmente, Grecia, los países bálticos e Islandia suelen ser invocados en favor o en contra de la austeridad. Por ejemplo, el economista y Premio Nobel Paul Krugman sostiene que como el PBI de Letonia aún está un 10 % por debajo de su máximo anterior a la crisis, el enfoque de «austeridad y depresión de salarios» no funciona y que Islandia, que no se vio obligada a una austeridad impuesta desde el exterior y devaluó su moneda, parece estar mucho mejor.…  Seguir leyendo »

En los albores del movimiento de indignados, se clamaba: “Islandia es la solución!”. Ahora, cuando se agrava la crisis financiera y se extreman los recortes sociales en Europa, Islandia crece al 2,3%, ha estabilizado su sistema financiero tras su colapso total en 2008, reducido el paro y relegitimado su sistema político mediante la preparación de una nueva Constitución con amplia participación ciudadana. Todo ello a partir de un movimiento de indignación popular que inició el 11 de octubre de 2008 el cantante Hordur Torfason y fue luego amplificado mediante internet.

Y es que Islandia se había convertido en ejemplo paradigmático de crecimiento basado en la especulación financiera.…  Seguir leyendo »

"La pire option a été choisie. Le vote a coupé le pays en deux" a déclaré la premier ministre, Johanna Sigurdardottir (Parti de l'alliance social-démocrate) sur la chaîne de télévision publique à l'annonce des résultats du référendum le 9 avril. Les Islandais ont en effet rejeté la nouvelle loi sur l'accord Icesave par 58,9 % de "non" et 39,7 % de "oui". Le Sud a été, parmi les six circonscriptions du pays, la plus mobilisée contre le texte (72,9 % de "non"). La participation a été importante, s'élevant à 70 %, soit +7 points à celle enregistrée lors de la précédente consultation populaire sur la première loi sur l'accord Icesave le 6 mars 2010.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Saturday the Icelandic people vote in a referendum on whether the Icelandic state and thus the citizens should guarantee the so-called Icesave claim. Icesave was a bank deposit account that promised market-leading interest rates. When the bank failed, the question arose if the Icelandic depositors' guarantee fund – a private institution financed by the banks – should have taxpayer backing. Instead of letting depositors lose their money or even wait for compensation from the bankruptcy estate, the governments of the UK and Netherlands (where the Icesave products where marketed) decided to reimburse depositors from their own countries. The reimbursement included the full principal, while the recklessly high-interest profits of the risk-seeking depositors were thrown in as a bonus.…  Seguir leyendo »

Weighing up to 80 tons and almost twice the length of a school bus, the massive fin whale — known as the greyhound of the sea for its swimming speed — was the victim of decades of commercial slaughter that killed the whales by the tens of thousands each year. Then, in 1986, with the species on the brink of extinction, the nations of the world agreed to a moratorium on commercial whaling, and this magnificent animal got a reprieve.

Except, that is, in Iceland. Today, over a quarter of a century after the moratorium took effect, Iceland is escalating its hunting and trading of fin whales (and other whale species), in disregard for international law, economic reason and ecological sanity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Today the leaders of the five Nordic states are meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a Nordic federal state. Ever since the Kalmar Union of the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden – reaching to Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Shetland and Orkney – collapsed in 1523, the idea of reinstating some sort of a supra-national Nordic state regularly crops up. Now this old idea has resurfaced in a book the Swedish history professor Gunnar Wetterberg submitted to the Nordic Council in Reykjavik today.

Wetterberg argues that together the Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, with the three micro territories the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Aland), will be stronger and more stable and prosperous than they are on their own.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tema: Se repasa el contexto en el que se presenta la candidatura islandesa a la adhesión y se formulan propósitos respecto a cómo la Presidencia española debe gestionar eficazmente el proceso teniendo en cuenta la muy similar experiencia ampliatoria de 1995 y tratando de no romper los difíciles equilibrios actuales de la UE frente a otras solicitudes de adhesión.

Resumen: El gobierno islandés presentó por sorpresa su solicitud de ingreso a la UE a finales de julio de 2009, obteniendo el visto bueno del Consejo casi inmediatamente a pesar de la escasa mayoría parlamentaria en la que se basaba la solicitud.…  Seguir leyendo »