Iceland Review: A Short History Skip to content

Iceland Review: A Short History

Beginnings of Iceland Review

Iceland Review was founded by the Icelandic journalist, editor, and publisher Haraldur J. Hamar, who passed away on January 5, 2023 at the age of 87. Haraldur had founded Iceland Review in the autumn of 1963, along with Heimir Hannesson.

The idea for Iceland Review came from an exciting trip that Haraldur undertook to the United States in 1961. Through the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship Program, Haraldur was invited to the US for a photojournalism tour, seeing everything from the Boeing headquarters in Seattle to the casinos of Las Vegas. During his travels, however, Haraldur realised that the average American had no notion of his homeland. So, upon his return to Iceland, Haraldur felt that there was a need for a publication to introduce and promote Iceland to the world. 

iceland review 1963 cover
The first-ever issue of Iceland Review, from 1963.

In the early days of Iceland Review, the magazine was more geared towards Icelandic business and the promotion of Icelandic trade goods such as fish and wool. However, the magazine had a keen emphasis on Icelandic culture, politics, nature, and more from the very beginning as well. The magazine Atlantica later became part of the publishing operation, along with diverse book publishing in various languages ​​and the publication of newspapers for Icelandic airlines. In 1975, Haraldur began the monthly publication of News From Iceland, distributed widely internationally, and considered the first regular English-language news service from Iceland.

Growing a new audience

Iceland Review continued to grow through the 1970s and 1980s. In 1982, it came under the editorship of Páll Stéfansson, a highly regarded Icelandic photographer. During his long tenure, which lasted from 1982 – 2017, Páll redefined the magazine with his photography, which heavily featured Iceland’s distinctive nature and landscape. During this time, Iceland Review also continued to print photography books, which played a key role in introducing the country to a broader, international audience. 

A new look

In 2017, the magazine came under new ownership, and with it, a new photographer and editor. Under the editorial leadership of Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir and award-winning press photographer Golli, the magazine developed a deeper interest in the daily lives of Icelanders and Icelandic society. By this time, the Icelandic tourism industry was in full swing, and Iceland no longer needed to be introduced to the world. As tourist information about Iceland became more and more accessible, the magazine shifted its focus away from the most obvious topics, and chose to instead focus on presenting a new and unexpected side of Iceland. During this time, Iceland Review also developed its current aesthetic.

The future of Iceland Review

Iceland Review continues to grow into the future of new media. The print magazine continues to cover a wide range of topics including current events, politics, economics, culture, and tourism in Iceland, while also highlighting the beautiful landscape and the cultural and political life of the nation. The Iceland Review magazine serves as a bridge between Iceland and the international community, offering perspectives on Icelandic life and issues to a global audience.

In recent years, Iceland Review has transitioned primarily to an online platform, reflecting broader trends in media consumption. Our website provides regular news updates, feature articles, and commentary on Icelandic affairs.

While maintaining its magazine’s high standards, Iceland Review also continues to offer more on its digital platforms. Its podcast, Deep North, was launched in 2022 and brings the magazine’s high-quality journalism to an audio format that listeners worldwide can enjoy. Additionally, viewers and listeners can engage with Iceland Review’s high-quality journalism across its social media channels and, most recently, on YouTube.

Iceland Review has played a valuable role in promoting understanding and awareness of Iceland on the global stage, and it continues to be a respected source of news and analysis about the country.

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