Gambling addiction

Backing the Right Horse

It’s Friday night in downtown Reykjavík and Mónakó’s regulars are out in force. The sign on the outside of the drab green and red building reads Casino Club Bar, but what’s inside doesn’t have much in common with the glamourous ideal of the casino.

Of Mountains and Men

Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, the Icelander who portrayed Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. “the Mountain,” in HBO series Game of Thrones, owns and operates a gym in Kópavogur, Iceland.

Ingvar E. Sigurðsson actor

Looking the Part

There’s something about Ingvar E. Sigurðsson’s face that feels innately Icelandic.

NASA Sand-E Rover Mars

Is There Life on Mars?

An hour’s drive from Reykjavík, we enter a different world. Volcanic plains, basalt sand, deep craters, steep ridges. River channels carved out by glacial meltwater. And a space rover. Welcome to Mars.

Vala Þóroddsdóttir publisher and poet

The Next Chapter

Seven years ago, poet Valgerður (Vala) Þóroddsdóttir felt Iceland lacked a platform for emerging poets. With the help of some friends, she created poetry book series Meðgönguljóð to fill the void.

Needle Candy

Loji Höskuldsson’s playing field is the brown canvas of embroidery. Entering a traditional, almost archaic artform, he has wasted no time in breaking down its boundaries.

candy sugar tax

In Focus: Proposed Sugar Tax

In an effort to improve public health, the Icelandic government plans to impose a sugar tax of 20% on products such as candy, chocolate, and sweetened soft drinks.

asylum seekers protest Reykjavík

In Focus: Asylum Seeker Deportations

The impending deportations of two Afghan families seeking asylum in Iceland have been heavily criticised in recent weeks. The families in question are the Sarwary and Safari families, who have been granted international protection status in Greece.

We All Protest!

At the heart of downtown Reykjavík lies the small, sheltered Austurvöllur square, criss-crossed by walking paths and lined with lilac trees. In the middle of the square, facing the unassuming two-storey structure that houses Iceland’s parliament, is a statue of Jón Sigurðsson, leader of Iceland’s 19th century campaign for independence from Denmark. At a national meeting called by the Danish government in 1851, Jón led Icelandic representatives in opposing a new constitution which would limit Icelanders’ rights. “We all protest!” they famously called out. “Vér mótmælum allir!”

The statue of this celebrated Icelandic protester has since fittingly looked down upon many other activists who have occupied Austurvöllur, which has since become the gathering place for locals who want to speak out on any issue. While many are familiar with Iceland’s mass protests following the 2008 banking collapse, the country’s history of protest in the modern era is much longer and more complex, spurred by issues ranging from women’s liberation and nuclear disarmament to, most recently, action on climate change and asylum seekers’ rights.

Yet by many measures, Icelanders are among the happiest people on earth, and Iceland one of the best places to live. So, what is it that drives locals of a wealthy, peaceful country to protest in the streets? And have these protests, miniscule on a global scale, spurred any tangible changes?