I’ve Never Gone North

ísafjörður road

Our camper van is eating up kilometres as we drive north into the Westfjords. It’s the middle of March, and though in climes less far-flung that means springtime, up here it is still very much winter. An observer may well ask – why drive to the edge of the Arctic Circle, in March, in a […]

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Chasing Ghosts

icelandic musician laufey

RUMOURS “Not a dry eye in sight, I tell ya,” Ísleifur Þórhallsson proclaims, standing near the ticket desk inside the Harpa Music and Conference Hall in Reykjavík. “Shoulda seen it!” He’s referring to the poignancy of last night’s Laufey concert, the first of three at Harpa. The final concert – added this January due to high […]

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Iceland Review: A Short History

iceland review history

Beginnings of Iceland Review

Iceland Review was founded by the Icelandic journalist, editor, and publisher Haraldur J. Hamar, who passed away on January 5th 2023, at the age of 87. Haraldur had founded the magazine 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 Fulbright Program, a prestigious scholarship, Haraldur was invited to the US for a photojournalism tour, seeing everything from 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 realised 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 news service from Iceland.

Growing a new audience

Iceland Review continued to grow through the 70s and 80s. In 1982, it came under the leadership 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 nature and the Icelandic landscape. During this time, Iceland Review also continued to print photo books, which played a key role in introducing the nation 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 photography of Golli, an award-winning press photographer, the magazine developed a deeper interest in the daily lives of everyday Icelanders. 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.

That Fat Is Just Melting Off You, Ladies!

Helga Páley Friðþjófsdóttir

Bergþóra Snæbjörnsdóttir (b. 1985) lives and works in Reykjavík, Iceland. She made her literary debut in 2011 with Daloon Days, a collection of poetry. Her latest novel is Dust – Cult of the Good Looking, which came out in October 2023 to critical acclaim. It received the Icelandic Booksellers’ Prize and was one of the best-selling […]

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Unearthing Spirit

Antonía Berg, Icelandic ceramicist

“Ceramics and clay are things that have been with humans since the beginning of time,” Antonía Berg casually explains to me as we sit in her studio Flæði, located in Reykjavík’s creative hub hafnar.haus. According to many religions and folk beliefs around the world, clay had another, even more pivotal role: it was the origin of human […]

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To Thrive in Chaos

Entering Gallerí Kannski for the Brokat Films exhibition Horseplay, the very first thing that greets you is the smell of fresh hay. Round the corner to the exhibition space itself, and you immediately see why: the entire space, about the size of a modest living room, is covered in it.Next, it’s the music. A pounding, […]

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Out of Their Shell

aurora abalone reykjanes

The Reykjanes peninsula is barren, even for Iceland. About two-thirds of it is covered by lava fields, nary a tree to be seen. The skyline stretches flatly in most directions, the mountains more modest than elsewhere in the country. The peninsula juts west into the North Atlantic, first in line to receive the low fronts […]

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The Patchwork of Progress

actress ebba katrín finnsdóttir

Resilience Imagine you’re a young woman struggling with addiction. You’ve lost custody over your toddler daughter, and you’re awaiting a court hearing to determine the future of your guardianship. In order to regain custody, social services – against your wishes – have enrolled you at Hússtjórnarskólinn: The School of Home Economics in Reykjavík, founded in 1942 […]

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Goodbye to the Grind

kaffi valeria kirkjufell grundarfjörður

The oldest known evidence of coffee in Iceland is a letter that Lárus Gottrup, a lawyer in Þingeyri, wrote to Árni Magnússon, a professor and manuscript collector, on November 16, 1703. They had spoken at the Alþingi (national Parliament meeting) that summer, and Árni was upset that his friend had forgotten to send him the […]

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The Centre Can Hold

Einar Þorsteinsson mayor of reykjavík

“My approach to politics is based on the concept of “public service,” says Einar Þorsteinsson, the new mayor of Reykjavík. “The people who enter politics should be there to serve the public.”Already a household name as a TV personality, Einar was primed for the spotlight before making the move into politics. The 45-year-old Kópavogur-born father […]

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