Iceland: Home of the Per Capita Record

Iceland: Home of the Per Capita Record

Photos by
Bobby Breiðholt

Published July 8, 2008

Living in an environment as hostile and unpredictable as Iceland can have severe effects on one’s mental stability. When a society goes through environmental hardship, long periods of darkness and centuries of seclusion it’s bound to lead to some kind of eccentricity.

This is most obviously exemplified by the curious mix of grandiosity and meekness (an oxymoron if there was one) of native Icelanders who find it nothing short of scandalous that their small, unarmed country doesn’t have as much political pull as some of their larger, more powerful neighbours. At the same time they are proud of having almost won a football match against the World Champions… a decade ago.

But as Homo sapiens always do, Icelanders found a way to cope. Instead of giving up and facing the fact that a small, isolated country may not be comparable to huge, multi-cultural ones, these proud islanders invented something brilliant in its simplicity and devastating in its effectiveness: something which serves to both prove this country’s superiority and kindle fears of its imminent degeneration – The Per Capita Record.

The Per Capita Record is quite simply when Iceland does something noticeable, compared to how small it is; for example, we don’t have nearly as many cars as the UK, but compared to the population we have a lot more. Used most often to excuse the mediocre standing of our sports teams, you’ll often hear Icelanders state that our sports teams are actually very good… compared to how few we are. But since receiving the rather embarrassing news that Icelandic woman are no longer considered the most beautiful in the world and in fact don’t even come close, Iceland has been in need of a good dose of patriotism. So, without further ado, here is the list of Iceland’s proudest accomplishments.

Morality Capital of the World.
Although widely thought of as being a rather alcoholically inclined nation it turns out that Iceland was in 27th place out of 30 surveyed countries for per capita alcohol consumption. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Quentin Tarantino! Another misconception is that all Icelanders get divorced, but according to the statistics only 30 of every 100 marriages ends in divorce, which is pretty respectable compared to Belgium’s 60 out of every 100 marriages. Iceland also has the third lowest infant mortality rate in the entire world, the highest amount of water availability and the lowest perceivable amount of government corruption. In Iceland, the government doesn’t lie about its shady dealings; it just refuses to comment on them. In your face, Democracy!

Great Artists, Crappy Terrorists.
Icelanders read the most books per capita and have more artists as part of the workforce than anywhere else. Perhaps this explains the fact that in a survey released about a year ago only 3% of the country described themselves as unhappy or maybe it’s because Iceland has the highest rate of suicide caused by depressive episodes. Is everyone who isn’t happy already dead? The war on terror has proven itself worthwhile in Iceland where no one has ever died in a terrorist attack. Taken back to school bin Laden!

The Perfect Woman.
We have the 5th highest rate of female parliamentarians with 34.9% of the parliament being women and had the honour of having the first female president. Unfortunately for the fairer sex, Iceland also has the highest incidence of breast cancer in women, or 39.4 afflicted for every 100.000. On a side note, in this reporter’s opinion, Icelandic women are not only still the most beautiful, they are also the best fighters in the world. I dare you to piss off an Icelandic woman between midnight and 5 AM on a Saturday night. I double dare you.

Global Warming? Sounds good.
The clean and unpolluted island paradise has the most tractors per 100 hectares of arable land and in fact has more than three times more than the next country, Japan. At the same time, however, Iceland has the second least amount of arable land of all countries that practice agriculture, which leaves us with practically no land and a hell of a lot of tractors. It’s not just tractors though; Iceland has the second highest amount of cars per capita too, right after the USA, and is in 8th place for oil usage, with each person using more than half a barrel a day. Whatcha gonna do about it Saving Iceland?

Socialist Paradise.
Iceland is also the third most taxed country in the world. But of course, how else could we afford to pay nurses, teachers and police officers such fantastic wages? Oh, wait, we don’t! In fact, Icelandic teachers’ wages are only slightly higher than in Mexico and substantially lower than in Italy, despite both countries paying a lot less in taxes.

International Politics and College Hierarchy.
The goal of this article is not to mock or degrade Iceland. By all standards, per capita or otherwise, this quaint little island is a respectable place to live but it’s not the same island it was two decades ago. Like a hot firstyear girl flirting with seniors at the dance, we’re at the pivotal point where we can either go home with the captain of the football team who’ll use us and dump us (and be “that” girl for the rest of our college years). Or we can remember the nerdy kid who’s always been there for us and be the cool chick in the coming of age comedy/drama, which is the world of international politics. Let’s not be Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, let’s be Ellen Page in Juno.

Info Box:
*A survey preformed approximately a year ago showed Iceland as the happiest country in the world. A newer survey, however, has placed Denmark in first place, and Iceland as about as happy as Columbia and Puerto Rico. What traumatic event could have lowered Iceland’s spirits so dramatically? Two words. Merzedes Club.
*Despite our reputation, Iceland is not one of the top alcohol consumers in the world.
*Iceland has the most tractors per 100 hectares of arable land and the second most cars per capita in the world.
*Iceland has the highest rate of suicide as a consequence of depression.
*Nobody in Iceland has ever been killed in a terrorist attack.



Mag
Feature
Future Perfect

Future Perfect

by

On “The Story Island,” a fresh young crop of writers is busy carving out a space, making way, creating a culture all of their own, in defiance of what came before. Much like their predecessors, and their predecessors’ predecessors Icelanders’ rich literary history is an enduring point of pride for the nation, greatly contributing to the national identity, even providing the basis for their claims to independence in the 19th and 20th centuries. Long before the onslaught of the ongoing nation branding campaigns based on the reputation of revered musicians like Björk and Sigur Rós, Icelanders liked to present themselves

Mag
Feature
Youth Groups In Icelandic Literature, A Brief History Of

Youth Groups In Icelandic Literature, A Brief History Of

by

Some accounts claim that modern Icelandic literature began in 1835, when four young students started their own literary journal in Copenhagen. Their influences and impulses came from Europe; an amalgam of reigning Enlightenment ideals of progress and a desire to disseminate bright new ideas and romantic aesthetics that they had picked up in their exile. The name of their journal, Fjölnir, came from the writings of the medieval historian Snorri Sturluson. Fjölnir was a mythical king of the Swedes, who sadly drowned in a large vessel of mead, which he fell into while dead drunk. From then on, we can

Mag
Feature
Sea Change

Sea Change

by

Angelica Aquino moved from the Philippines to the East Iceland fishing hamlet of Djúpivogur over a decade ago. Enticed by a job in a factory owned by a fishing and fish processing firm called Vísir, Angelica, whose name has been changed for this article, immediately put down roots in her new home, starting a family and integrating herself into the community. So when Vísir announced this spring that it would be shutting its operations in Djúpivogur, as well as in Þingeyri in the West Fjords and Húsavík in the North, it put Angelica in a tight spot. She could either

Mag
Feature
Owning it

Owning it

by

In a crumbling old building on the outskirts of central Reykjavík, a dust-covered, semi-abandoned workspace is coming to life. In one corner, a makeup artist applies vivid lipstick to a member of feminist rap collective Reykjavíkurdætur as photographer Axel Sigurðarson steadies his stepladder on the broken tiles underfoot. Heavily-tattooed young rapper Emmsjé Gauti chats with Arnar from Úlfur Úlfur, trying on jackets from a clothes rail. Cell7, aka Ragna Kjartansdóttir, enters the room to loud cheers, and is soon taking selfies with friends in the throng. Next to show up are Erpur Eyvindarson, aka Blaz Roca, from Iceland’s biggest rap

Mag
Feature
Back To Basics

Back To Basics

by

Although contemporary hip hop culture is undeniably global in its scope, most people wouldn’t think of Iceland as a hotbed for street dance, one of hip hop’s most recognizable and fundamental off-shoots. And honestly, it’s not. Today there are—at a generous estimate—maybe 50 people actively involved in the street dance scene in Iceland, many of whom are kids and teens who are years away from seeing the inside of a nightclub. Nevertheless, two women at the forefront of Iceland’s street dance community—Natasha Monay Royal, a 41-year-old Brooklynite who is part of “the generation to start street dance,” and her former

Mag
Feature
Project: Overload

Project: Overload

by

When we profiled New York design firm karlssonwilker for our 2012 DesignMarch issue, one of the things we discussed was the need for graphic design and visuals, and why people should pay them for what they do—what exactly they bring to the table. Their response was resoundingly simple, yet confusing: “We can design something just right, but we can never guarantee sales or success. See, most of what sells a product is itself. If your CD is brilliantly designed, with great artwork, but the music sucks, it will not sell. The opposite is rather true, great music can sell in

Show Me More!