What can you tell me about Iceland’s upcoming presidential election?

Bessastaðir, official residence of the President of Iceland.

Iceland will hold a presidential election on Saturday, June 27. There are two candidates on the ballot this election: incumbent Guðni Th. Jóhannsson, currently finishing his first term, and Guðmundur Franklín Jónsson. A recent poll showed 90.5% support for Guðni.

Who is Eligible to Vote

Only Icelandic citizens aged 18 or older on election day are eligible to vote in presidential elections. (The only exception to this is Danish nationals residing in Iceland on March 6, 1946 or at any point in the 10 years before that date.) Icelandic nationals who have legally resided abroad for more than eight years must apply to Registers Iceland to be entered into the electoral register.

How and Where to Vote

Icelandic nationals who are eligible to vote can find their polling station by typing in their kennitala on the Registers Iceland website. Voters must present a valid form of identification in order to vote. Most polling stations will be open from 9.00am to 10.00pm, but these hours may vary, so voters are encouraged to check the hours of their individual polling station.

Advanced polling stations are also open at District Commissioner (Sýslumaður) Offices across the country until election day. Information about advance voting can be found on their websites.

Is Iceland’s coronavirus testing showing that 50% of cases have no symptoms?

COVID-19 Iceland

Several large media outlets have been stating that one of the findings emerging from Iceland’s coronavirus screening of the general population is that around 50% of individuals infected with the virus have no symptoms. The screenings of the general population have been carried out by Reykjavík-based medical research company deCODE genetics, so Iceland Review asked their CEO Dr. Kári Stefánsson to clear up this assertion.

Kári stated the claim is an oversimplification. “Fifty per cent of those that test positive in our screenings of the general population are symptom-free at the time. Many of them get symptoms later,” Kári said.

Therefore, although about half of those who have tested positive for coronavirus in deCODE’s screenings did not have symptoms at the time, most of those who have tested positive developed symptoms at some point. A positive sample from an individual without symptoms means that the sample was most likely taken early in the virus’ incubation period, before symptoms such as dry cough or fever began to present themselves.

“DeCODE has now screened 10,401 individuals in Iceland. Of those, 92 were positive. So about 0.9% of those who we screened in the general population turned out to be positive. And that is probably the upper limit of the distribution of the virus in society in general,” Kári explained.

Iceland Review’s interview with Kári reveals more about the findings from deCODE’s screenings and how they could help the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Which languages are most closely related to Icelandic?

Icelandic is an Indo-European language, belonging to the group of North Germanic languages, to be specific. This group also includes Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Faroese. Of those languages, Norwegian and Faroese (spoken in the Faroe Islands) are the most closely related to Icelandic.

Icelanders and Faroese people may be able to understand each other’s languages on the page, as their writing systems and spelling are quite similar. Speaking is another matter, however: the pronunciation differs significantly, and the two languages are not mutually intelligible without study. 

Icelanders receive some help from their schooling when it comes to understanding the other North Germanic languages. Danish is a compulsory subject in schools, and learning it helps with the comprehension of Norwegian and Swedish as well.

How Hard Is It to Get a Nursing Job in Iceland?

A: In a recent interview with Iceland Review, Guðbjörg Pálsdóttir, President of the Icelandic Nursing Association, confirmed that there is a shortage of nurses in Iceland.

Applicants must, nonetheless, fulfil the requirements set by the Ministry of Health on appropriate education in nursing before receiving a permit for working as a nurse in Iceland (click here for further information). The Directorate of Health is responsible for issuing work permits on behalf of the ministry.

As wage agreements are currently being negotiated, Guðbjörg preferred not to comment on nursing salaries, as they are liable to change quickly: “Current wage tables* do not reflect the state of negotiations.” For further information regarding salaries, interested parties are encouraged to send an email to the Icelandic Nursing Association ([email protected]). When contracts have been signed, new figures will be published on the English version of the Association’s web site.

*The basic monthly salary for an experienced nurse in Iceland was around ISK 327,000 ($4,100 / €2,600) in 2018.

Icelandic Nursing License

Nurses that are citizens of EEA (European Economic Area) member states:

Individuals seeking to practise nursing in Iceland are required to possess an Icelandic nursing license, which must be recognised by the Ministry of Health and Social Security. Applicants must send the following papers to the Icelandic Ministry of Health and Social Security.

1. Certified proof of your citizenship in an EEA country (a certified copy of your passport is sufficient).

2. Certified copy of your diploma or a nursing degree proving that you are registered as a nurse in your home country.

3. Certified copy of your nursing license. This certificate must not be older than three months to ensure its current validity.

4. Letter of good standing, including a statement that your basic-qualification training complies with EEA training standards, and a verification that you have a valid nursing license in your home country.

The respective authorities must certify all these copies (photocopies are not accepted). These documents should be written in English, and any translation should be certified by a governmental authority or an official translator.

The Icelandic Nursing Association is a member of the International Council of Nursing, and employs the same criteria as the ICN regarding job applications from nurses outside the EEA (European Economic Area):

Individuals seeking to practise nursing in Iceland are required to possess an Icelandic nursing license, which must be recognised by the Ministry of Health and Social Security. Applicants must send the following papers to the Icelandic Ministry of Health and Social Security.

1. Certified copy of your permanent address (a certified copy of your passport is sufficient).

2. Certified copy of your diploma or a nursing degree showing that you are registered as a nurse in your home country.

3. Certified copy of your nursing license. This certificate must not be older than three months to ensure its current validity.

4. Certified copy of full details of the programme of your nursing studies: an outline of the curriculum, the length of the program, a description of the courses with the number of lectures, discussion, and clinical work.

The respective authorities must certify all these copies (photocopies are not accepted). These documents should be written in English, and any translations should be certified by a governmental authority or an official translator.

Applicants are no longer required to speak Icelandic before being granted an Icelandic nursing license from the Ministry of Health; however, nurses are required to study and learn Icelandic. For the first year or two, nurses who do not speak Icelandic can take courses while working. For further information, contact the Ministry of Health.

Please note: Prior to arriving in Iceland, you must contact an Icelandic employer and sign a contract of engagement. Foreign nationals coming to Iceland for employment purposes and without having obtained a work permit will be ordered to leave according to the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The address of the Directorate of Health: Landlaeknisembaettid, Katrínartún 2, 105 Reykjavík. Tel: (+354) 510-1900.

What Is the Current Status of Trapped: Season Three?

Ófærð (Trapped)

The first season of the TV series Trapped, created by Baltasar Kormákur and produced by RVK Studios, was broadcast in Iceland in December 2015. The most expensive TV series in Icelandic history, Trapped follows detective Andri Ólafsson (portrayed by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) as he works to solve the murder of a former townsman whose mutilated corpse is recovered by fishermen in a remote Icelandic town.

Following the success of the first season – broadcasting rights were purchased by networks across the world, including the BBC, and the series received favourable reviews – season two of Trapped premiered in Iceland in early 2019, with many recurring characters from season one.

While RVK Studios has announced that season three has been in the works since late 2018, the company has offered few updates; recently, however, Iceland Review spoke to a representative from RVK Studios who was willing to offer a few points regarding the much-anticipated third season:

1. The general storyline has already been mapped out.
2. Writers are currently working to finish the script.
3. RVK Studios hopes to start production later this year or the next (although nothing has been officially confirmed).
4. The company is determined to go ahead with the project and release season three in the near future.

Skateboarding in Reykjavík: What Are the Rules?

Skateboarding in Reykjavík

Recently, Iceland Review sent an email to the City of Reykjavík inquiring – on behalf of one of our readers – whether there were any, “explicit rules governing the sport of skateboarding in Reykjavík?” While the responding official did not address the question directly, he did mention that Reykjavík offers a few designated skate areas, including outdoor ramps and two skate parks.

A Skateboarding Task Force

The aforementioned skateboarding areas are outlined in a recent report submitted by a Reykjavík city task force, established to assess the state of skateboarding in Reykjavík.

Formed on November 9, 2017, by Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson, the task force was assembled to generate proposals regarding the city of Reykjavík’s policy on skateboarding. The task force convened a total of ten times – meeting with representatives of the Reykjavík Skateboarding Association (Brettafélag Reykjavíkur), the Jaðar Association, and others – before finally submitting its report in April 2018.

According to the report, the state of indoor and outdoor skateboarding facilities in the Greater Reykjavík Area is “far from being acceptable,” and not on a par with what is required for extreme sports in Iceland to thrive, as they do in many places abroad.

The report broadly outlines the main places to skate in Reykjavík, which includes indoor parks, outdoor ramps, and popular places within the city. 

Indoor Parks:

*Organised practices are scheduled in both skateparks, along with open houses for different kinds of extreme sports.

Outdoor Ramps*:

  • Laugardalur
  • Gufunesbær 
  • Jafnasel
  • A moveable pump track that is relocated to different places in Reykjavík
  • Ársel
  • Mosfellsbær

* The condition of the abovementioned ramps varies greatly.

Popular Places in the City:

  • Ingólfstorg Square
  • Harpa Concert Hall

Authors of the report propose the construction of a new skatepark somewhere in central Reykjavík. As far as we know, no such skatepark is currently under construction.

An Insightful BA Essay

In a BA essay published in 2013, Anton Svanur Guðmundsson – a then student of the Department of Design and Architecture at the Iceland University of the Arts – traces the origins of skateboarding in Iceland to the late 1970s. The essay also sheds some light on the rules of skateboarding in Reykjavík, vis-a-vis a paragraph on Ingólfstorg square: “The police cannot interfere with the activity of the skaters as the square belongs to the city of Reykjavík, and as there are no laws that forbid skateboarders to skate on or around the square, just as there are no laws that forbid them from skating in other public spaces in the city. Police regulations state, however, that skateboarders should not skateboard in or around streets in a manner hazardous to pedestrians or motorists.”

For further information on skateboarding in Reykjavík, you can also review this article from Grapevine published in 2012.

How Do I Dress My Toddler for the Icelandic Winter?

Toddlers in Iceland in Winter

Winter in Iceland began on October 26. While the Icelandic winter is relatively mild, owing to the Gulf Stream, freezing temperatures are not uncommon. This Friday in Reykjavík, for example, the Icelandic Met Office predicts that temperatures will dip well below zero degrees Celsius. On such days, layers of warm clothing are imperative.

In Iceland, dressing a toddler for the winter typically involves layers:

1. A merino wool onesie with merino wool pants.
2. A long-sleeved shirt and pants.
3. A warm ski jacket or snowsuit.

This wintry ensemble is then complemented with wool socks (preferably 70% or higher) and sturdy shoes that offer plenty of traction; mittens and a scarf; and a warm woollen cap. You will, perhaps, notice that wool is essential. For good reason. As noted on the website Iceland with Kids, wool is warm, breathable, stays warm when wet, and doesn’t absorb odours.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the streets in Reykjavík can be quite slippery. In late November, over two dozen residents visited the emergency room on account of icy conditions. Crampons may not be a bad idea for young children. If you plan on hiking in the countryside we recommend visiting Safetravel.is for updates on road conditions, weather warnings, and more.

There are plenty of warm winter clothes and accessories available in the city: 66 Norður and Ellingsen, for example.

Where Can I Purchase a “Leaf-Cutting Tool” for Laufabrauð?


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1666953288611{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]For many Icelanders, making laufabrauð (leaf bread) is an essential part of Christmas preparations. The art of making leaf bread is usually a family undertaking, where several generations gather and take part. Leaf-bread making traditionally requires a laufabrauðsjárn, or a leaf-bread roller, which can be purchased in, among other places, Kokka, Allt í Köku, and Brynja.

Iceland Review recently spoke to the abovementioned vendors and inquired about prices and availability.

Kokka (on Laugavegur 47) offers two types of leaf-bread rollers: a 22mm roller (ISK 18,500) and a finer, 12mm roller (ISK 20,500). According to a sales representative, Kokka currently has a few leaf-bread rollers in stock; however, as many Icelanders begin preparing leaf bread in early December, they “usually go quickly this time of year.”

Allt í köku (on Smiðjuvegur 9 in Kópavogur) offers three types of leaf-bread rollers: a 12mm roller (ISK 20,495), a 22mm roller for (ISK 18,495), and a 22mm roller with a custom-made wooden handle (ISK 23,995). Last year, “all the rollers sold out,” (excepting those with the wooden handles).

It’s interesting to note that most of the rollers that the abovementioned vendors sell are produced by Handverk Haraldar. The company is owned and operated by Haraldur Guðbjartsson who is one of only a few Icelanders who manufacturers hand-made leaf-bread rollers. Haraldur acquired the company, along with the manufacturing equipment, from Ægir Björgvinsson and his wife “Didda” in 2013.

Laufabrauð (leaf-bread) is a traditional kind of Icelandic bread: thin round flat cakes, decorated with leaf-like, geometric patterns, fried briefly in hot fat or oil. They are consumed most often during the Christmas season. Leaf bread originates from northern Iceland but is now eaten throughout the country.

If you’re ordering from abroad, the website Nammi.is offers shipping.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Is the NBA very popular in Iceland?

NBA in Iceland

It’s difficult to give a true yes-or-no on this question. It was huge in the 90s during the height of Jordan mania, with lots of people collecting NBA cards. Nowadays, basketball is one of the biggest sports in the country along with football and handball, with 7,142 practitioners. The Icelandic basketball team is improving, having […]

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