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  • Peggy Simonsen

A Culture determined by nature

More than most countries, Iceland’s history and culture have been driven by the sea, the geology and the weather. With a population of less than 500,000 and expanses of the country not conducive to farming, Iceland is sparsely populated. Its history is of sea faring, including a major herring fishing industry that collapsed because of over-fishing in the 1960s. The two largest cites, Reykjavik on the southwest coast and Akureri on a northern fjord, have major harbors. Thermal and hydro power provide all their electricity, and we even visited – and tasted- bread baked in a thermal oven in the ground. Today, tourism is their largest industry, overtaking fishing. I found everyone extremely friendly, kind, considerate and pleasant, and proud of their heritage, including their folklore about trolls! Every school child learns Icelandic, English, Danish and other languages. The biggest subject of conflict is whether to stop harvesting sharks- which apparently are still sold to the Japanese market.


We had two weeks of adventures all around the country, ate great food (especially halibut, cod, salmon and haddock), saw the solstice sunset at 12:35 am close to the arctic circle, went whale watching, visited an award-winning horse farm, planted little saplings as part of their reforesting the country, and hiked along the coast, on a glacier, around (and under) waterfalls, geological features, and through little towns.





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