2031 Handball World Championship to Take Place in Iceland

Laugardalur, Reykjavík

The 2031 IHF Men’s World Championship will take place collectively in Iceland, Denmark and Norway, the International Handball Federation (IHF) announced today. The handball games taking place in Iceland should be played at the new National Arena in Laugardalur, Reykjavík, according to a RÚV report. Authorities have already announced that the long-awaited arena should be up and running by 2031.

Small nation success

Iceland submitted the joint application with Denmark and Norway this time, but hosted the games alone in 1995. “This joint effort will not only elevate handball in Iceland, but also show and prove that small nations can organise major sporting events through strong international cooperation,” said Guðmundur B. Ólafsson, president of the Icelandic Handball Association.

Popular sport in Iceland

Handball is a popular sport in Iceland. The women’s national team competed in the World Championship last year and have qualified for this year’s European Championship, a tournament they also qualified for in 2010 and 2012. The men’s national team has also historically been competitive on the international stage, winning a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

The IHF also announced today that the 2029 IHF Men’s World Championship would take place in France and Germany, with the 2029 IHF Women’s World Championship set in Spain and the 2031 edition in Czechia and Poland.

Over 13% of Icelanders Live Abroad

Tenerife elderly senior Spain

Over 13% of Icelandic citizens live abroad, according to the latest figures from Registers Iceland. While 324,193 Icelanders live in Iceland, 49,870 live outside of the country. About three-fifths of Icelandic emigrants live in other Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland). RÚV reported first.

Denmark tops the list for relocation

Denmark, Iceland’s former coloniser, is the most popular country for Icelanders to relocate to, with 11,982 Icelandic citizens living there currently. This represents 24% of all Icelanders who live abroad or nearly one-quarter. Norway and Sweden are in second and third place, home to 9,250 and 9,046 Icelanders respectively.

Number of Icelanders living abroad growing

The US and UK round out the top five, with 6,583 Icelanders living in the United States and 2,518 in the United Kingdom. Over 900 Icelanders live in Spain, a popular vacation destination for Icelandic citizens. In most of the top 15 countries on the list, the number of Icelandic residents has been steadily increasing. The same is true of the number of Icelandic citizens living abroad in general. In 2004, they numbered 29,591, and at the end of 2023, they numbered 49,870.

It bears noting that Iceland’s population has also grown in recent years, though not as much as previously believed.

 

Women’s National Team Secures Historic Win Against Denmark

Iceland national football team

The Icelandic national team secured a 0-1 victory over Denmark in Viborg last night. The win is historic, as it marked the first time that a senior Icelandic football team defeated a Danish side in Denmark, RÚV reports. The Icelandic defence was notably solid, with eighteen-year-old Fanney Inga Birkisdóttir standing out in her debut international match.

A lot at stake for both teams

It was clear before that game that Iceland would finish third in their group of the Nations League; Wales, at the bottom of the group, had been relegated to League B. Meanwhile, Germany and Denmark were in contention for the top spot, which grants a place in the Nations League semifinals. The top two teams of each group in League A also qualify for the Olympic Games next year.

Despite Iceland having missed out on the top two spots, a victory was important as it meant that the team could improve their position in the world rankings, which is important for seeding in upcoming competitions.

A noteworthy debut

As noted by RÚV, the atmosphere was lively ahead of yesterday’s match in Viborg. The Danes arrived in strong numbers at the 10,000-capacity stadium. The Danish team had an early scoring opportunity but missed the target. This seemed to relieve some pressure off the Icelandic team.

The game marked an international debut for 18-year-old goalkeeper Fanney Inga Birkisdóttir, who displayed remarkable confidence in goal. The Icelandic defence held strong in the first half. Playing deep in their own half, they successfully thwarted the Danish efforts to find openings, except for an early chance.

Karólína Lea and captain Glódís Perla came closest to scoring for Iceland. Karólína intercepted a weak clearance from the goalkeeper, narrowly missing the goal with a long-range effort. Glódís threatened the Danish goal with an early header. The captain consistently made her presence felt, especially in set-piece situations.

Second half

At the start of the second half, Denmark intensified their attack. The Danes created two good chances, but on both occasions, Fanney Inga was more than equal to the task in goal. Her impressive performance last night, following a strong season with Valur in the top women’s league in Iceland, cements her status as a future star goalkeeper, RÚV maintained.

Karólína Lea eventually scored the winning goal of the game in the 77th minute. After her initial shot was saved, the ball bounced back to her feet and she slotted it home. “Karólína had a fantastic game and it almost seemed like there were two or three copies of her on the field in Viborg tonight. She was everywhere,” RÚV noted.

The Danish team relentlessly pressed forward, aware that the game between Wales and Germany, which was being played at the same time, was goalless. No matter how hard they tried, however, all their attacks were halted by the solid Icelandic defence, with the reliable Fanney Inga backing them.

The disappointment for Denmark was profound, with the Danish national broadcaster describing the result as a “fiasco,” especially as the match between Wales and Germany ended in a goalless draw, meaning that Germany finished above Denmark.

A positive international break

As noted by RÚV, this two-match international window has been tremendously positive. The team scored two goals against a spirited Welsh side and secured an away victory against Denmark. Iceland has thus won three out of six matches in League A of the Nations League. The victory against Denmark bodes well for the future, especially considering the initially grim outlook in the Nations League. “It represents a perfect end to the year for the team,” RÚV noted.

The next challenge for the team will be in February when Iceland competes in the playoffs to maintain their position in League A. The matches will be played abroad, although the venues have yet to be determined.

Deep North Episode 18: A Diamond in the Rough

icelandic language rasmus rask

In the fall of 1813, a young, shy Danish man disembarked from a cargo sailing ship in Reykjavík harbour. His name was Rasmus Kristian Rask (1787-1832), but he was no merchant, nor was he a tourist. Short in stature and modestly dressed, his face was thin and fine-featured, long-nosed with round, clear eyes that burned with enthusiasm and intellect. Rask had been offered free passage to Iceland by appreciative Icelanders fascinated by the diminutive young Dane who so loved their language. He had come to the remote Danish colony for a two-year stay to master the language and test a theory he had devised; that Icelandic was the closest thing to an ancestor of all the other Germanic languages.

Read the full story here.

Why do Icelandic students still learn Danish?

iceland denmark king christian ix

The fact that Icelandic students still learn Danish in school is tied up with the long history of Icelandic-Danish relations.

Up until Iceland’s independence in 1944, Iceland was a colony of Denmark. In addition to being taught in primary and secondary school, Danish was also the gateway to many higher professions, since studying at the university in Copenhagen was one of the most prestigious educations an upwardly mobile Icelander in the 19th century could get. In fact, Copenhagen was in many ways the centre of Icelandic intellectual life up until the modern era. To this day, many Icelanders choose to attend university in another Nordic nation, such as Norway, Denmark, or Sweden. Because the Nordics are all good places to study and work, there remains an incentive today to develop a baseline proficiency with the language.

Despite its status as a relic of the colonial past, Danish language education still serves some practical and positive purposes today. Written Danish and Norwegian are very similar, and a background in Danish can play a key role in communicating with other Scandinavians. Some have, however, wondered whether Norwegian should instead be taught, as it is more mutually intelligible with Swedish, especially in its spoken form. However, another reason Danish education has stayed in place in Iceland is that Iceland’s neighbours were historically, and continue to be, Danish colonies as well. Specifically, Danish is still taught in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, two territories that have strong historical and cultural ties to Iceland.

This reason is perhaps not front-and-centre in Icelandic education policy, but there is also something to be said for learning a language from a different language group. Norwegian and Icelandic were both West Norse languages, and are therefore more closely related to one another today. Danish and Swedish historically had more contact and influence on one another and are considered East Norse languages. Some argue that learning an East Norse language gives Icelanders the best of both worlds, allowing for communication with both Norwegians and Swedes as well. Note, however, that despite these language groupings, the written forms of the modern Scandinavian language are all more or less mutually intelligible among one another.

Of course, the final reason, like so much in history, is simply force of habit. Languages are useful because other people use them, so it stands to reason that if many scientific, historic, and academic documents were written in Danish, then there is good reason to continue the tradition because it still has some utility.

Danish Breeders to Import Icelandic Mink

iceland mink farming

Two thousand Icelandic minks are set to be exported to Denmark to help reconstitute their breeding population.

Mink breeding will become legal again in 2023, and Icelandic mink are set to play a key role for Danish mink farmers.

See also: Icelandic Minks Tested for Coronavirus

The entire Danish mink population of some 13.5 million animals was controversially culled in 2020 over fears of human-animal transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

The cull was carried out without the proper legal authority and caused billions of Euros in damages to the industry. The incident has been the cause of ongoing political controversy in Denmark.

In addition to Icelandic mink, Norwegian, Finnish, Polish, and Spanish mink will also be imported. Icelandic mink are said to be especially important in the renewal of Danish mink farming for their genetic similarity to the now-culled Danish stock.

The political fallout of the 2020 mink cull still continues in Denmark with regard to disputes over the cost of import and tests for the new animals. Representatives of the mink farming industry claim that the state should bear responsibility for the costs, after the illegal cull.

 

Against the Ice Receives Half a Billion in Production Rebate

Still shot from 'Against the Ice'

The State Treasury reimbursed ISK 500,000,000 [$3.58 million; €3.58 million] in production costs for Against the Ice, an historical survival epic produced for Netflix by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur. RÚV reports that this is one of the largest film and television production reimbursements that the government has ever made—on par with the ISK 500,000,000 received by Fast 8 in 2017.

Two other productions, the TV series Washington Black and Stella Blomkvist, also received substantial reimbursements: ISK 217 million [$1.55 million; €1.55 million] and ISK 170 million [$1.22 million; €1.22 million], respectively.

See Also: True Detective Series Will Be Largest-Ever Foreign Investment in Icelandic Culture

All of these reimbursements pale in comparison, however, to the one that will be made for the production of the fourth season of HBO’s True Detective, which will film over nine months in Iceland with a budget of around ISK 9 billion [$64.8 million; €63.9 million]. Per the Icelandic Film Center’s reimbursement scheme, “Producers can apply for reimbursements from the State Treasury of 25% of the costs incurred in the production of films and television programs in Iceland, or 35% for production projects that meet given conditions.”

Based on a true story, Against the Ice is set in 1909 and follows two men’s trek across the Greenland ice cap to recover the records of the ill-fated Denmark expedition, which set out years before to chart the geography of Greenland. Beset by troubles of their own, the pair must survive in the Arctic while waiting for rescue that may never come. The film was directed by Peter Flinth, and stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) and Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders). The film was shot predominantly in Iceland, although some filming was done in Greenland as well.

Icelandic President’s Coat of Arms Unveiled in Denmark

Guðni Th.

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson was awarded the Order of the Elephant in 2017. In a ceremony at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød last Monday, the president’s personal coat of arms was unveiled.

“To thine own self be true”

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson was awarded Denmark’s Order of the Elephant by the queen during a state visit in 2017. The Order of the Elephant is Denmark’s highest-ranked honour, which is almost exclusively awarded to royalty and heads of state today.

For over 300 years, it has been customary for every knight of the order to have a personal coat of arms made by the royal heraldic painter, which is hung in the Knight’s Chapel at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød. On Monday, Guðni’s escutcheon was unveiled and hung in a ceremony attended by the president and First Lady Eliza Reid.

As noted on the website of the royal house, the coat of arms consists of six elements inspired by Iceland and the president’s life:

“The colours of the shield are that of the Icelandic flag. The open book refers to the study of history, university studies, and the president’s civilian career as a historian. The hammer resting atop the book is Mjölnir, representing strength, sport, and health. The waves symbolise the intertwining of Iceland’s fate and its surrounding sea while also evoking the president’s studies abroad (and the fact that he found his wife on the other side of the Atlantic). The maple leaf refers to the First Lady’s Canadian ancestry. Finally, five anchors represent the president’s children.

The slogan on the coat of arms is TIBI IPSI ESTO FIDELIS, which translates to “Be true to yourself.”

Nammigate: Danish Neocolonists Appropriate Beloved Icelandic Liquorice

icelandic candy liquorice

The Danes are at it again: not content with centuries of exploitation, trade domination, and the impoverishment of the Icelandic people, the Danes have perhaps committed their greatest crime against our island nation in recent weeks by claiming a beloved Icelandic tradition as their own.

The controversy came to light when actor and comedian Vilhelm Neto brought the above post to light from Danish company, Lakrids by Bülow. The original post claimed that despite the limits of modern confectionary technology, Danish researchers were nevertheless able to combine the two sweets to make something entirely new: chocolate-coated liquorice.

Stating that he was “all in” to “start drama” with Denmark, Vilhelm Neto critiqued the Danish confectioners: “As if  some scientist barged in, sweaty and nervous, and said: ‘No, you can’t put the two together! It’s simply not possible!'” 

As most visitors to Iceland will know, liquorice is a mainstay in most sweets, with chocolate-covered liquorice being especially beloved.

Pétur Thor Gunnarsson, managing director of the Icelandic confectioner Freyja, set the record straight in a statement to Vísir.

“These Danes are taking our honour,” he stated. “Already in 1984, our product called Draumur was on the market. This was the first of its kind.”

Draumur is one of Freyja’s most popular candy bars, consisting of two parallel straws of liquorice covered in milk chocolate. 

Since the release of Draumur, numerous other liquorce-chocolate sweets have been introduced to the market in Iceland.

According to original research by Iceland Review’s reporters, the Icelandic confections required relatively little research and development before hitting the market.

Nine Infected with Monkeypox, Vaccine En Route from Denmark

Nine people had been diagnosed with monkeypox in Iceland as of last week. RÚV reports that Iceland has still not received its own shipment of the monkeypox vaccine and so will be borrowing vaccines from Denmark in the meantime.

In an interview on Wednesday, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason said there was no indication that the monkeypox epidemic is on the decline. Around 14,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease worldwide, 8,000 of whom are in the European Union and 2,000 of whom are in the UK.

“The figures are going up. There’s nothing that indicates that this on the decline. So every country is just preparing to offer vaccination and even antivirals when they get them,” said Þórólfur.

Þórólfur added that Iceland is receiving a loan of 40 vaccine doses from Denmark, as the country  is still awaiting its vaccine allotment from the European Union.

“It’s not clear when they will arrive,” said Þórólfur, “but it shouldn’t be long now.”