The official site of the Iceland Foreign Service provides
visitors with a wealth of background information on the
country's people, history, economy and foreign policy. Learn
interesting facts about Iceland -- for example, it has just
three people per square kilometer, making it the most sparsely
populated country in Europe.
Mission of Iceland to the United Nations
Iceland has been a member of the United Nations since
1946. Its U.N. Web site presents background information
about the country's history and people and offers facts
about the country's diplomatic relations. A handy flowchart
enumerates international organizations to which Iceland
belongs, including the Arctic Council (which Iceland is
chairing from 2002 to 2004).
CIA Worldfactbook: Iceland
A good primer for anyone wanting to learn more about Iceland,
the 2002 CIA Worldfactbook's section on Iceland offers
concise, easy-to-scroll chapters of information, including
a collection of demographic facts, descriptions of political
parties and a list of key political leaders. An image
of Iceland's flag can be enlarged at a click, and facts
about the nation's economy, geography and communications
can be gathered at a glance.
Ever fancied taking a dip in a geothermal hot spring surrounded
by a lunarlike landscape? Or imagined trekking along winding
fjords to marvel at the largest puffin and razorbill colonies
in the world? Sponsored by the Icelandic Tourist Board
of North America, this Web site, accessible also in French
and Spanish, offers to visitors interested in planning
a trip information on where to go, when to go and why
anyone should go to Iceland.
Country Profile: Iceland
This BBC profile of Iceland offers an excellent general
introduction to Iceland's modern history, politics and
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Sponsored by Iceland Air and the city of Reykjavik, the
Iceland Airwaves music festival was launched in 1999 as
a forum to showcase budding Icelandic musical talent, such
as the bands Quarashi and Sigur Ros. The 2002 Airwaves festival
included international sensations Fat Boy Slim (United Kingdom),
the Hives (Sweden) and Iceland's own Apparat Organ Quartet
-- a band that continues to affirm why Icelandic music,
with its crystalline complexity and innovation, is a window
into the future of sound.
Kitchen Motors was created in April of 1999 by three Reykyjavik-area musicians to help foster unlikely musical and artistic collaborations between local musicians, with the results performed before audiences and released on the Kitchen Motors record label. The creative think tank now covers every artistic bandwith in the creative spectrum, still instigating unlikely musical pairings but also promoting performance art events, exhibition showings, and film productions the world over. Visit their site to find out more about this quirky outfit and their upcoming projects.
Icelandic Music Page
The Icelandic Music Page has an extensive listing of bands
and musicians from Iceland, including links to their Web
sites. It also provides information about Icelandic musicology
and history going back hundreds of years. All genres of
Icelandic music and styles are represented here, as is
information about musical gear and musician unions and
organizations that are active in Iceland.
AboutMusic: Reykjavik Underground
The BBC world music series AboutMusic produced
this profile of Reykjavik's music scene, interviewing
the key players in the Reykjavik underground scene, across
all genres. The site boasts more than 70 music clips from
pioneering bands and shows the kind of cross-band collaboration
that's become a hallmark of modern Icelandic music. One
such musical collaboration is Kitchen Motors -- the creative
crucible out of which such successful experiments as the
Apparat Organ Quartet were born.
Radio 3: Mixing It Visits Iceland
In October 2001, the BBC world music show Mixing It
traveled to Iceland to explore the country's alternative
music scene. Hear clips of music and be present at interviews
with a dozen musicians from Iceland, who offer insight
into why it seems that just about everyone in the country
is musically inclined.
Heat in Rock Lab"
Since the late 1980s, with the advent of Bjork and her
band, the Sugarcubes, Icelandic music has been renowned
globally as a bellwether for musical experimentation and
change. The persistent appeal of Icelandic bands such
as Sigur Ros and Mum may reflect a desire from the general
listening public to tap into sound that is, according
to The Age (Oct. 8, 2002) unlike anything else.
Many believe that it's Iceland's extreme landscape that
has set Icelandic bands' imaginations into hyperdrive.
Bands That Came in From the Cold"
Find out why Scandinavian music is the hottest thing around,
from the hard-rockin' thrash of bands like the Hives to
the atmospheric bliss of Sigur Ros, a band from Iceland
that performs in Hopelandic, a language it invented. An
Icelandic expatriate living in San Francisco attributes
the hotbed of musical experimentation to a creative reaction
to six months of long nights and harsh winters. (San
Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 20, 2002)
Born in Reykjavik on November 21, 1965, Bjork Gudmundsdottir
(or Bjork, as she's commonly known) is Iceland's most
famous export. This visually lush fan-site is brimming
with information about the artist, from her first record
release at age 11 to a slew of photos, a nicely arranged
biography and inimitable musings from the "Bjorkess" herself.
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In Icelandic and English, CultureNet Iceland touts itself
as "the official gateway to Icelandic culture on the Web."
The site features online newsletters about various art and
cultural events in Iceland and features Icelandic artists,
including three winners of the 2002 Carnegie Art Award.
Information about famous Icelandic writers, such as Nobel
Prize-winner Halldor Laxness, is also available, along with
an archive of past newsletters on such subjects as Icelandic
film and literature.
Presented by the Icelandic Tourist Board, the History
of Iceland page provides the Web visitor with a well-informed
overview of Icelandic history, from the settlement of
Iceland by Norwegian and Celtic immigrants in the late
ninth century to the founding in A.D. 930 of the Althing,
the world's first parliamentary system. Find out about
Iceland's Age of Stone Throwing, when the parliamentary
rule of the Althing splintered amid clan warfare. A timeline
featuring milestones in Icelandic history, such as its
independence from Denmark in 1944, can also be found here.
Written between the 12th and 13th centuries, Icelandic
sagas are records of oral accounts passed down through
the generations. These sagas describe the exploits of
individuals, in the vein of Beowulf, or document
whole communities in a style the site itself describes
as "blunt." The stories are peppered with supernatural
explanations for events. This Web site includes several
famous sagas, such as the anonymous Eyrbyggja Saga,
as well as one about Norwegian kings written by the Shakespeare
of Icelandic literature and poetry, Snorri Sturluson.
Presented by Virtually Virtual Iceland, this Web page
includes four traditional tales of magic, mystery and
mayhem: "Loftur the Sorcerer," "Deep Are the Iceland Channels,"
"The Guardians of Iceland," and "Jolasveinarnir -- Yuletide
Lads." What does a cow licking a tree signify? The answers
to that and other Icelandic superstitions are revealed
Iceland boasts a smorgasbord of exotic culinary treats.
Some perennial favorites include the eggnoglike eggjamjolk
and Mandarin orange cheesecake. Mutton lovers, try your
hand at Lifrarpylsa, Icelandic-style haggis. For
the truly courageous, this Web site of traditional Icelandic
recipes and family favorites reveals how rotten shark
meat is prepared. Find out how food and tradition coalesce
in festivities like the Day of St. Thorlakur.
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Unique Approach to Energy
Because of Iceland's abundance of hot springs, geysers and
volcanoes, the country is a geothermal paradise, helping
to make it the only country in the world where the availability
of electricity exceeds the demand. More than 66 percent
of all the energy produced in Iceland comes from two renewable
sources: hydroelectric energy and geothermal power. Despite
this cornucopia of clean-burning, cheap energy, Iceland
is still dependent upon oil imports to power its armada
of more than 2,000 fishing trawlers and transportation vehicles.
The ever-resourceful nation is exploring alternative forms
of energy, including its efforts to become the world's first
hydrogen society. Iceland's hydrogen guru is chemistry professor
Bragi Arnason, who first unveiled the idea nearly 30 years
ago to cynical colleagues. While hydrogen is easily manufactured
in Iceland via geothermal-generated electricity and water,
the challenge is in storing vast amounts of the world's
lightest gas within spaces compact and powerful enough to
power cars, trucks and fishing vessels. Enter the hydrogen-powered
fuel cell, championed by Professor Arnason and backed by
such heavy hitters as Daimler Chrysler. According to Physicsweb
("The Hydrogen Economy Blasts Off," July 2002), fuel cells
could be the technology that proves key in saving Iceland
$150 million in annual oil imports and slashing its greenhouse
gas emissions. Will the tiny nation become the "Kuwait of
the North," leading an energy revolution in which it exports hydrogen
to markets in Europe and abroad?
The National Power Company
Since 1983, Landsvirkjun has been entrusted with providing
nearly all of Iceland with electricity. A town in northern
Iceland has a 5 percent share in the mostly state-owned
utility. On the home page, you'll find recent energy-related
news updates, including the announcement of bids being
accepted by Landsvirkjun for the controversial Karahnjukar
Hydropower Project, which will feature dams, a power station
built and operated by the utility, and a colossal new
aluminum smelter from Alcoa.
Energy Authority of Iceland
Orkustofnun, Iceland's National Energy Authority, has
been in existence since 1967, advising the government
on energy issues, conducting research and providing services,
all related to tapping into energy reserves from Iceland's
unique volcanic, green and glacial landscape.
Launches Energy Revolution"
This BBC article provides a good overview on how Iceland
plans to harness the power of hydrogen through fuel cells
to help meet the country's energy needs. If Iceland is
successful in this, hydrogen-based fuel cells would replace
the dirty carbon fumes sputtering from car exhaust pipes
with a new "waste" by-product -- water.
Puts Iceland on Road to Oil-Free Future"
This article appeared in Planet Ark (May 31, 2002).
In 2003, Iceland's novel use of hydrogen as a possible
energy source will be put to the test as three hydrogen-powered
buses, built by a consortium of major industry players,
including Mercedes' Daimler Chrysler, take to the streets
of Reykjavik. If these three buses operate successfully,
more cities --Madrid, Amsterdam, Hamburg and others --
could follow suit. Major obstacles still remain, however,
in trying to harness energy from the world's lightest
Visionary Energy Policy"
Get a glimpse into Iceland's visionary energy policy by
reading this Alternet.org article about the Sudurnes power plant, which produces
electricity via geothermal steam. The plant also makes
hot water for the local community -- and "waste" runoff
is enjoyed by locals and tourists, who soak up the pollution-free
This report from Science Wire (Jan. 22, 2001),
a joint project of San Francisco's Exploratorium Museum
and PRI radio program The World, comes from Reykjavik.
Reporter Rebecca Roberts met University of Iceland professor
Thorsteinn Sigfusson, who is working with officials in
the government to make hydrogen a viable fuel source.
According to Professor Sigfusson, utilizing renewable energy
sources, from the extraction of hydrogen to its storage
as a fuel in fuel cells, is key to this new hydrogen economy.
Alcoa's Green Light
Iceland's petroleum imports provide fuel for the nation's
transportation vehicles, fishing trawlers and energy-intensive
smelting industry. Aluminum giant Alcoa got the green light from the
government of Iceland to construct a 300,000-ton-per-year
"low-emission" smelter in eastern Iceland. Though a majority
of Icelanders welcome the project, environmentalists want
the area designated as a national park. (Bjork's mother
went on a 20-day hunger strike to protest construction
of the smelter.)
The Icelandic Nature Conservation Association (INCA) vehemently
opposes Alcoa's construction of an aluminum smelter in
the vicinity of Europe's largest national glacier, Vatnajokull,
which INCA says is one of the biggest unspoiled areas
in Europe. Find out more about why INCA sees the project
as a threat to the unique wilderness of the Icelandic
highlands and how dam construction may do more harm than
good in the region.
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The state-owned Icelandic National Broadcasting Service
(RUV) has been operating since 1930. Promoting Iceland's
language, history and cultural heritage, RUV broadcasts
programs throughout the country via the two radio stations
and the one television station it operates. The Web site is in Icelandic.
Founded in 1913, Morgunbladid (Icelandic Morning Paper)
is Iceland's largest daily newspaper, with a circulation
of 56,000. The newspaper's Web site is in Icelandic.
A weekly publication in English, Logberg-Heimskringla
features news and articles of interest to all people of
Icelandic ancestry. Peruse the archives and visit the
Travel and Children's Corner sections.
IcelandNews.com is a clearinghouse of current-affairs
information compiled from various news agencies, including
the UK Guardian, the Boston Globe, Hoover
and the Atlanta Journal. The site also features
useful sidebar links organized into Guides and Directories
and News and Media resources.
Offering daily news from Iceland and more, Iceland Review
is an online publication replete with different sections,
from Daily Life to Fun and Eating Out to articles about
Iceland's capital, Reykjavik. The publication's news bulletins,
updated daily, and feature articles can be accessed through
free, online registration.
The online edition of The Washington Post features
a World section in which news articles pertaining to Iceland
can be found. A recent article, "Earth to Iceland," is
by staff writer Cindy Loose, whose experience of the nation's
unique geography led her to comment that "sometimes in
Iceland, it's hard to remember you're still on planet
Earth." Links to Iceland's political parties and travel
options can also be found.
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