Number of Icelandic Residents Nearing 400,000

Locals and tourists enjoy the sunshine in Reykjavík's Austurvöllur square.

The number of Icelandic residents increased by 2,570 in the fourth quarter of last year, Vísir reports. The increase means that a total of 387,800 people were living in Iceland at the end of 2022.

Most Icelanders emigrated to Denmark

According to a press release from Statistics Iceland, a total of 387,800 people were living in Iceland at the end of the fourth quarter of 2022 (an increase of 2,570): “199,840 men, 187,840 women, and 130 were transgender/other.” Of these 387,800 people, 247,590 people were residing in the capital area, compared to 140,210 in the rest of the country.

The press release also notes that during the fourth quarter of 2022, “1,040 children were born and 650 people died. At the same time, 2,110 more people immigrated to the country than emigrated; Icelandic citizens who emigrated from the country exceeded the number of citizens who returned to the country by 60. Meanwhile, foreign citizens who immigrated to Iceland were 2,170 more numerous than those who emigrated from the country. More men than women emigrated from the country,” the announcement states.

Most of the Icelandic citizens who emigrated left for Denmark, or 110 people during the quarter in question. “230 Icelandic citizens moved to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden out of a total of 430. Of the 1,150 foreign nationals who left the country, most, or 340 people, went to Poland.”

Similarly, most of the Icelandic citizens who returned to Iceland arrived from Denmark, or 140. Forty people arrived from Norway and 70 from Sweden. Most of the foreign nationals who immigrated to Iceland arrived from Poland, or 720 out of a total of 3,320 foreign immigrants. The second most numerous group of foreign nationals immigrating to Iceland originated from Ukraine, or 580. Foreign citizens were 65,090 or 16.8% of the total population.

A population projection from Statistics Iceland predicts that Iceland’s population will be 461,000 in 2069.

Public Pools in Capital Area Set to Reopen at 3 PM

Laugardalslaug geothermal swimming pool in Reykjavík

Following closures yesterday, public pools in the capital area are expected to open again at 3 PM today.

A prolonged cold spell leads to hot-water supply cuts

Owing to a prolonged cold spell, the utility company Veitur decided yesterday to cut its supply of hot water to some of its largest users, among them, the public swimming pools in the capital area. All of the pools throughout the capital region were subsequently closed.

In a news bulletin published yesterday, the City of Reykjavík noted that most of the pools will reopen at 3 PM today. Vesturbæjarlaug, in West Reykjavík, began reheating its hot tubs and pools at noon and hopes that temperatures will be just right at 3 PM. Laugardalslaug will also open at 3 PM. The beach in Nauthólsvík opened again at noon while Árbæjarlaug in East Reykjavík will open at 9 AM tomorrow.

Iceland Review recommends calling public pools in advance to make sure that your pool of choice is open.

On its website, Veitur noted that – due to the heavy use of hot water – residents in some areas of the capital region may experience a drop in pressure. “We encourage people to take good care of the heat, check the seals on windows and doors, make sure the heating system is working properly and don’t leave the hot tub running on the coldest days,” a post on Veitur’s website reads.

Young Woman Died from Cold-Weather Exposure in December

A woman in her forties was found dead not far from her home near Esjumelur in Mosfellsbær on December 20, RÚV reports. The precise time of her death remains unknown.

The storm before Christmas

Following heavy snow in the capital area during the days leading up to Christmas, Reykjanesbraut – the road leading to Keflavík Airport – became impassable. The closure led to numerous flight delays and cancellations, with many travellers expressing their criticism of the Icelandic authorities.

During the time of the storm, a woman in her forties – living in Esjumelur in Mosfellsbær – was on her way home on foot. She was found dead near her residence on December 20. She died from exposure to cold temperatures. The precise time of her death is unknown.

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Chief Inspector of the Capital Area Police, Grímur Grímsson, stated that there was no evidence of foul play.

Death from exposure in Iceland is extremely rare, but the cold snap that has persisted in the country over the past six weeks has been one of the worst in years.

Electroshock Weapons to Be Employed by Middle of the Year

Dómsmálaráðherra Ríkisstjórn Alþingi Jón Gunarsson

The Minister of Justice hopes that the police will be able to put the first electroshock weapons to use this year, RÚV reports. The minister’s decision to grant this authority to the police should not come as a surprise.

Full implementation may take one or two years

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson affirmed that his decision to authorise the police to carry electroshock weapons will stand – despite the criticism. He hopes that the first weapons will be in use by the middle of the year.

An amendment to existing regulations is expected to take effect next week. Electroshock weapons will only be assigned to police officers who have received the necessary training, and such weapons may only be used if other, milder measures are not deemed sufficient.

“This will, of course, take some time. I expect that the implementation will take approximately one to two years. My hope is that the first officers will begin carrying these electroshock weapons in the middle of the year or so,” Jón observed.

PM Criticises Lack of Discussion in Parliament

Jón has been criticised for not giving Parliament sufficient opportunity to discuss the amendment. During a radio interview yesterday, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir remarked that it would have been more appropriate to discuss the matter more thoroughly in Parliament.

“She said that more of a discussion needed to take place, and I have submitted a memorandum to Parliament; the matter has received a certain amount of discussion at that level,” Jón added.

When asked if the matter had not been discussed thoroughly enough, Jón replied that it was not for him to judge.

“Ultimately, it’s the PM’s decision. This change to the regulation has been carefully prepared, and it has been repeatedly discussed, as I’ve told the media previously; it has not provoked any special reactions or given rise to any special discussion, these reactions that have been expressed,” Jón explained.

Jón plans on attending a meeting with the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee next week so as to answer the committee members’ questions. He says that the decision to introduce electroshock weapons was made with the safety of police officers in mind.

“I am prepared for any discussion about this and thoroughly present my reasoning behind the decision. A decision has been made based on the information I have and it stands,” Jón concluded.

Deep North Episode 9: The Right to Bear Arms

guðmundur felix

In 1998, Guðmundur Felix was working as an electronics engineer. One day in January, he set out to do some work on a high-voltage transmission line. The line he was supposed to be working on was powered off, but on that fateful day, Felix reached out and touched a line that was very much powered on. Shocked by 11,000 volts, he fell 8 metres. When he woke up, both his arms had been amputated at the shoulder.

Read the full article here.

Yellow Weather Alert Takes Effect for All of Iceland

Waves crashing over Reykjavík lighthouse

A yellow weather alert took effect for most parts of the country early this morning. A quick thaw later in the day is expected to produce heavy snowmelt. Residents are encouraged to clear snow away from gutters and icicles from roofs.

Extreme cold finally coming to a close

After six weeks of extreme cold, the weather in Iceland began to warm last night. In an interview with Fréttablaðið yesterday, Teitur Arason, a meteorologist with the Icelandic Met Office, stated that the cold spell was finally coming to an end.

“Today is the last day with this extreme cold,” Teitur said yesterday. After warmer weather this weekend, however, it will get cold again – but not as cold as over the past six weeks.

“On the one hand, the forecast expects a storm during the early part of tomorrow and then followed by a quick thaw.”

Teitur expects that the weather will grow calmer on Sunday but after the weekend, winter weather is expected to set in again. December and January have been unusually cold:

“What’s unusual, and what will go down in history, is this cold snap that has been going on for the last six weeks; we’ve seen an unusually long period of extreme frost. The swing in temperature over the course of one day will be quite extreme – and we will probably see the greatest swings in temperature in Víðidalur valley in Northeast Iceland. It was freezing there this morning (-23.4°C), but tomorrow [i.e. today, January 20) ] temperatures will rise to 7°C. That’s a swing of thirty degrees. This owes to the fact that we’ve been sitting in cold air and then a low-pressure system will move into the country and bring a lot of hot air. This is more normal weather at this time of year as opposed to this long cold snap.”

In an interview with yesterday, Jón Þór Víglundsson, Public Relations Officer for ICE-SAR (the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue), stated that rescue teams were at the ready: “The forces are ready, and if they have to, they will be called out.”

Difficult road conditions are expected to form over the course of the day.