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This nOde last updated March 22nd, 2005 and is permanently morphing...
(7 Muluk (Water) / 12 Kumk'u - 189/260 - 22.214.171.124.9)
Abbr. Ice., Icel.
An island country in the North Atlantic near the Arctic Circle. Norse settlers arrived c. 850-875, and Christianity was introduced c. 1000. The feudal state was united with Norway in 1262 and with Denmark in 1380. In 1918 it became a sovereign state in personal union with Denmark, which lasted until the Icelanders voted for full independence in 1944. Reykjavík is the capital and the largest city. Population, 240,443.
- Ice´lander noun
Exploration and Colonization, 790
Irish monks reach Iceland in hide-covered curraghs to begin settlement of that island
Exploration and Colonization, 874
Iceland is discovered by Viking Norsemen, who begin almost immediately to colonize the country.
Iceland moss (Ěs´lend môs)
A brittle, grayish-brown, Arctic lichen (Cetraria islandica) sometimes used as a food or in medicine.
Iceland, an unlikely Utopia
Summarised from an article by Eliot Weinberger, entitled 'Heaven on Ice' in _Utne Reader_ (May '97) reprinted from _The Nation _(Feb 10th '97) and another by Richard C. Morais, entitled 'Who are the happiest people?', in _Forbes_ magazine (Oct 23rd '95) monitored for the Institute by Roger Knights.
The classic social ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity, along with more modern ones such as sorority and sustainability seem, of all Western nations, to have been best realised in the unlikely, but spectacularly beautiful setting of Iceland. 82 per cent of its citizens reckon themselves satisfied with their personal lives, which is the highest figure anywhere, some 10 per cent more than the United States.
Remote from the convulsions of European history, its small, ethnically and linguistically distinct population (268,000) have sustained a remarkably cohesive culture over their 1,000 year history. (Since it was originally uninhabited, it has none of the painful colonial legacies born by other nations.) Even now, its uniquely literate population - they are the keenest readers on Earth - are all well-versed in their foundation sagas, which celebrate the trials of ordinary folk (rather than kings or gods) and the magnificent glacial wilderness which surrounds them still. They speak more or less the same, unique language as their forefathers, and have the same, ancient system of traditional names: first name plus fathers' first name plus 'son' or 'daughter'. The phone book is indexed by first names - all of which are the same - and people can differentiate one another only because they know each other.
They also have one of the longest democratic histories in the world - having invented the idea of a parliament, and established women's rights to divorce and property some thousand-odd years ahead of the rest of the world.
It is also, nevertheless, a
modern, capitalist welfare state, which provides well for its
citizens, and is notable for its equitable social mix. The statistics
make one's jaw droop: there is very little unemployment; no poverty -
and no conspicuous wealth either; they have the world's lowest infant
mortality rate, and are fantastically long-lived. Whilst enjoying the
advantages of modern technocratic society, they seem to have escaped
most of its pitfalls: Since there is so much freely available
geothermal heat, they have little pollution; there is no army and
little crime. Most prisoners are allowed home
for holidays and children walk the city streets without
How have they achieved this remarkable social success? Writing in the _Nation_, Eliot Weinberger suggests that Iceland has simply been lucky with its happy combination of history and geography: its success could not be emulated elsewhere. Another historical fluke theory, from sociologist Thorolfur Thorlindson of the University of Iceland, argues that the Icelanders' gift for contentment arises out of their centuries of coping with an extreme climate and the vicissitudes of a fishing economy.
However, as a long standing advocate of small nations as the best social formula, the Institute for Social Inventions is pleased to note that Iceland's Utopian social achievements have been realised on a very human - almost tribal - scale: Akureyri, for instance, its second city and cultural capital, has a population of 15,000.
After recording and releasing Killing Joke's third album, 1982's _Revelations_ 12", Jaz Coleman decided that the apocalypse was near, so he left the group and ran away to Iceland with Geordie. While in Iceland, Coleman and Geordie worked with a number of Icelandic bands, most notably Theyr, which would later evolve into the Sugarcubes. Youth followed Coleman to Iceland shortly after his departure. After a few months with no sign of the end of the world, Youth returned to England and formed Brilliant with Ferguson. However, Ferguson left shortly after the group's formation and moved to Iceland with Killing Joke's new bassist, Paul Raven. Youth continued playing with Brilliant, while Killing Joke's new lineup -- featuring Coleman, Geordie, Ferguson, and Raven -- worked in Iceland for a brief period. Soon, the group returned to England and recorded _Fire Dances_ 12", which was released in 1983. Fire Dances demonstrated a calmer, more straightforward band than the one showcased on the group's earlier records.