When and why did Iceland change to driving on the right?

Kjölur highland road

As you might know, the British occupied Iceland during the Second World War in order to secure Allied shipping lanes. While they were here, they built the Reykjavík Airport, Nissen huts, and parts of the road system.

However, something many people might not know is that Icelanders drove on the left side even before the Brits came. Even back then, this was something of an exception. Iceland’s former colonizer, Denmark, for instance, also drove on the right. The arrival of the British just cemented the habit, and it wasn’t until 1968 that Icelanders made the switch (and they might also have been influenced by Sweden, who made the switch in 1967).

Iceland was expanding its road system significantly during this time (the ring road was “only” completed in 1974), and the thinking was that before Icelanders spend all of the time and money building up their road system to meet modern standards, then any changes should be made before, not after, the project.

So, in anticipation of the last push to build the ring road, Icelanders made the switch in 1968.

Although the switch did officially happen on the appointed day, Icelanders had plenty of time to prepare. For quite some time before the big change, public service announcements instructed Icelanders about the new driving patterns. Some were also anxious at driving on the right at first, so the roads were actually rather empty in the first days of the switch, allowing everyone a little more time to get adjusted.

Do Eagles Live in Iceland?

eagle örn iceland

Yes, they do! White-tailed eagles, also called sea eagles, are the species of eagle that call Iceland home. They are a rather rare species here, with only 85 adult nesting pairs in all of Iceland. They were actually quite endangered in the middle of last century, with only around 20 breeding pairs, but they have since rebounded with conservation efforts and are protected.

As their name suggests, they like to be close to the sea, where they can fish. They are excellent fishers, but are also happy to scavenge.

They require either forests or cliffs for nesting, so given the lack of established forests in Iceland, they make their homes on sea cliffs and other inaccessible areas. Ornithologists actually think that they originally preferred to nest in the lowlands, but that they were pushed to nest in mountains and cliffs because of human hostility. They can also sometimes be seen on skerries and other islets.

One of their biggest habitats is in Breiðafjörður, where a majority of the nesting population lives.

Of course, we hope it goes without saying that you should not get too close to any sea cliffs when looking for eagles, and to treat them with respect and distance!

Read more about the preservation of these birds here.

Level of Uncertainty Declared over Glacial Flooding from Grímsvötn

Vatnajökull Grímsfjall Grímsvötn Bárðarbunga Kverkfjöll Jöklar Jökull Vísindi

Civil Defense authorities have announced a State of Uncertainty due to glacial flooding from Grímsvötn, a subglacial volcano under Vatnajökull.

The ice sheet has been measured as receding in the last few days, accompanied by increased seismic activity.

Grímsvötn, one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, has an eruption cycle of 5-10 years. As its last eruption was in 2011, it could mean that it is due soon. Glacial flooding can also trigger subglacial eruptions, which has been known to happen at Grímsvötn.

The glacial flooding is expected to last for several days, but no structural damage is expected. Grímsvötn flooding has become more frequent in recent years, meaning that individual floods are milder and cause less damage to infrastructure.

Read more about Grímsvötn and the flooding at Iceland’s Meteorological Office.

Bláfjöll Ski Resort to Add Two Additional Lifts

reykjavík skiing bláfjöll

Two large lifts are nearly completed at Bláfjöll ski resort and will hopefully be operational by the start of the winter skiing season, reports RÚV.

The new lifts will be some 450m long, taking just over a minute to reach the top of the slope. Einar Bjarnason, manager of the ski  area, reports that it will be able to take 2,400 individuals every hour.

The news comes just as winter is arriving in the capital, the last few days having been the first properly cold ones of the year, with temperatures dipping to 3°C [37°F].

The improvements to Bláfjöll will also include a new building from which skiers will board the lift, skiing directly into the building. The building, called Gosinn, will have a futuristic look, reminding some of a spaceship. Additionally, other facilities are also getting improvements before the winter season.

The Bláfjöll ski resort is a popular winter recreation for residents of the capital area, located about 25 minutes from Reykjavík. The beginning of the season depends on the weather, but it is generally open by the end of December to beginning of January.

ASÍ Leadership and Future Up in the Air as Three Candidates Withdraw

vr union iceland, Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson

Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson, chairperson of VR, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, chairperson of Efling, and Vilhjálmur Birgisson, chairperson of the Association of Trade Unions, have all withdrawn their candidacy for the central board of ASÍ.

At the 45th conference of ASÍ, Iceland’s Federation of Labour, tensions have run high, with accusations of personal attacks and more leading to uncertainty for the future of ASÍ’s leadership. The tensions take place in the wake of Drífa Snædal’s, former chairperson of the ASÍ board, resignation earlier this year. Among the reasons for her resignation she cited that personal conflicts had escalated to the point where it was no longer possible for her to perform her job.

Read more: Drífa Snædal Steps Down from ASÍ

In addition to their candidacies for leadership being withdrawn, they have also stated that they are now considering withdrawing their unions from ASÍ itself. Both Sólveig and Ragnar have stressed in statements that the final decision will be decided among the unions themselves.

The Federation of Labour, founded in 1916, has been the major power in organised labour in Iceland since its founding. Should Efling and VR, Iceland’s two largest trade unions, leave ASÍ, it would represent a historic change in Icelandic labour relations.

Ólöf Helga Adolfsdóttir, secretary of the board of Efling, had previously announced her candidacy against Ragnar Þór for ASÍ president. She is the presumptive candidate for ASÍ president.