From Iceland — The Bearable Lightness Of Being

The Bearable Lightness Of Being

Sigurður Mar Jónsson, Government Press Secretary

Iceland is not devoid of problems. However, when the situation elsewhere is examined, the Icelandic problems seem rather trivial. This does not change the fact that we need to deal with them.

The state of affairs in this country is shaped by a lot of what goes on in the wider world, but at the same time we are sheltered from many of the difficulties that are proving the hardest for others to overcome.

You could say that our small size and geographical position are at the same time our biggest benefit, and our worst drawback. Those who run businesses and provide services often wish that the home market were greater, others consider our sparse population an advantage—few countries are less densely populated than Iceland. This increases the cost of maintaining an infrastructure, but shapes Icelanders as a nation. At the same time, it seems to make the country desirable in the eyes of the ever-growing number of visitors we receive from all over the globe.

Iceland rates high by most of the yardsticks that are used to measure nations’ prosperity. In some areas, we are on top, such as in terms of civil liberties, the status and rights of minority groups, equality and health. Of course, we shouldn’t take for granted that this will perpetually remain true, and the recent doctors’ strike reminds us that our competitive position is difficult now that it’s easier than ever for specialists and well-trained professionals to sell their talents to the highest bidder.

Iceland has changed fast over the past few decades, and it will continue to change in the foreseeable future. Possibly, the main controversies of the next few years will revolve around how—and whether—those changes will be directed or controlled.

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