A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun, still spewing lava. Bárðarbunga, still sinking.

Surtsey: New World Heritage Site

Published July 10, 2008

Surtsey, the volcanic island off the
southern coast of Iceland was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List
at World Heritage Committee meeting in Quebec City on July 7th.
A total of 27 new sites were inscribed on the WHL including the Preah
Vihear Temple in Cambodia and Fujian Tulou in China.

Surtsey is a fairly new island
approximately 32 km from the south coast of Iceland formed by
volcanic eruptions that took place from 1963 to 1967. It is
considered all the more intriguing for having been protected since
its “birth”, providing the world with a pristine natural
laboratory. Free from human interference, Surtsey has been used to
study and produce unique long-term information on the colonisation
process of new land by plant and animal life. Since they began
studying the island in 1964, scientists have observed the arrival of
seeds carried by ocean currents, the appearance of moulds, bacteria
and fungi, followed in 1965 by the first vascular plant.

Iceland now has to sites on the World
Heritage List, Surtsey and Þingvellir National Park, site of the
ancient assembly of the Althing which was inscribed in 2008.



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So What’s This Support For Scottish Independence I Keep Hearing About?

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A number of prominent Icelanders cheered on the Scottish independence movement during the run-up to the September 18 referendum deciding whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom. Among notable Icelanders who expressed support for the Yes movement were comedian and former Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr, the band Sigur Rós, and a smattering of politicians, including both the President and the Prime Minister. None of them caused deep ripples, unlike when, on the eve of the election, Scottish independence received the endorsement of the most famous Icelander of them all: Eyjafjallajökull. How can a volcano support anything? Did it ash out

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‘You’ve Got To Be Firm With These People’

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Against Container-Prejudices Eygló Harðardóttir, Welfare Minister on behalf of the Progressive party, wrote a blog post last week, titled ‘Container-prejudices’. Whereas the title might seem to involve an elaborate new metaphor, leading an optimist reader to hope that the Minister might finally publicly counter the xenophobic agenda of other party members, that is not the case. The title is quite literal: the post is about alleged prejudices against containers as a housing solution. Containers are already used as homeless shelters in Reykjavík and more will soon be placed at Landspítali, the National University Hospital of Iceland’s premises, accommodating new offices

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Hello! I Must Be Going!

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To forge a synthesis: Last week, as evident in what follows, citizens of the volcano-plagued republic seem to have mainly wondered which things should be allowed entrance into their country and which should rather be kept out: should meat-products from elsewhere be allowed? How about people from elsewhere? How about only the best people from elsewhere? If locally produced people are supposed to stay, then who is supposed to accommodate them? How can the country attract all the best people and still get rid of all the ‘good people’? Should books stay or go? Last but not least: is there

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Letter To UNESCO

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Dear UNESCO, It was a great honour when Reykjavik became a UNESCO City of Literature in 2011 and we Icelanders are very proud to be counted as one amongst seven amazing cities carrying this title. Realising this is not a temporary title, but a title for keeps which carries a certain recognition and prestige, we have become apprehensive about it and would therefore like to bring a few points to your attention. In a new budget proposal, the present Icelandic government has proposed to raise the sales tax (VAT) on books from 7% up to 12%. The immediate and obvious

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Everything Counts

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Statistics Iceland (SI) raised a few eyebrows when the institution announced that it would as of September include estimates of various illegal activities when calculating Iceland’s GDP and balance of payments. Drug trafficking, smuggling and prostitution are now included among the more “traditional” industries in the state’s official GPD calculations, a move that SI claims will increase Iceland’s GDP by 0.47%. Understandably, the institution’s announcement generated a loud “whaaat!?!?” across social media, as people attempted to make sense of this unexpected addition to the Icelandic economy. It just made no sense! Why would the statistics bureau be interested in boosting

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So What’s This Faroese Ship I Keep Hearing About?

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The Faroese trawler ‘Næraberg’ was fishing for mackerel in Greenlandic waters when its engine suffered a malfunction. As the Icelandic Coast Guard was best situated to help, it sent a plane out to the trawler with spare engine parts, which it dropped in a parachute. The Faroese crew retrieved them in a dinghy and went to work repairing the engine. Another lovely story of cooperation in the North Atlantic Ocean, where hard men with soft hearts help each other survive. After the attempted repairs, the engine could only produce a fraction of normal power. The ship set course for Iceland.

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