Introduction to Iceland (01:48)
Iceland is one of the most volcanically active places on earth. Locals have survived by fishing and adapting to nature—developing a unique culture and retaining their ancestral Viking language.
Modern Iceland (01:19)
No longer isolated from the outside world, the island is a global player in commerce and in culture.
Iceland's Geological Features (01:25)
Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, tectonic plates are pulling the island apart and contributing to its volcanic and geothermal activity.
Mt. Eyjafjallajökull (02:05)
In April 2010, Iceland’s volcanic eruption grounded European flights—costing billions. An expert explains that fine ash spread far across the Atlantic.
Lakagígar Eruption (01:44)
In 1783, volcanic ash and lava engulfed Iceland for eight months, plunging the world into darkness and famine. Today, citizens closely monitor volcanic activity and avoid casualties.
Iceland's Fishing Industry (01:26)
Nearly 40% live in Reykjavik, the national export hub. When Vikings arrived 1,000 years ago, harsh winters and poor soil made farming impossible—but Gulf Stream harvests allowed them to survive.
Icelandic Marine Culture (02:51)
Fishing is still a major income source—but turbulent North Atlantic weather makes it a dangerous career choice. Sailors attend church before voyages, but the sea has claimed thousands of lives.
Iceland's Economic Bubble (02:06)
Cod exports and then cheap global credit increased national wealth; even fishermen were encouraged to take loans against future catches.
Iceland's Financial Collapse (03:06)
The credit bubble forced a bank bailout in 2008. Unemployed citizens ousted the government and demanded a return to traditional values; the fishing industry is now paying off national debts.
Icelandic Literature (03:39)
Remoteness has created a national character of resilience and self-sufficiency. Cultural values in the 9th century Viking Sagas resonate with modern writers and the Icelandic language has changed little.
Icelandic Folklore (02:05)
Belief in the supernatural is inherent in the Icelandic national character. An emphasis on storytelling has increased government funding for literature during the economic recession.
Global Warming in Iceland (03:18)
Glaciers such as Vatna ice cap are melting and reshaping the landscape. Experts predict rain will replace snow within 200 years, creating more arable land.
Iceland's Renewable Energy (04:24)
The Alcoa aluminum plant harnesses hydropower from glacial rivers and employs the local community. Cheap electricity covers raw material shipping expenses but incurs environmental costs.
Balancing Economy and Ecology (03:09)
Two rivers have been dammed to build an environmentally controversial hydroelectricity plant powering Iceland's Alcoa aluminum smelter. Despite long shifts, employees are grateful for the work.
Capitalizing on Climate Change (01:05)
Iceland's experts predict a 50 year window of glacial melt, during which hydroelectricity will benefit the economy.
Húsavík Eco Tourism (04:27)
A sparsely populated country with a pristine environment, Iceland has attracted increasing nature visitors. Steffan left the fishing industry to lead whale watching tours.
Tradition vs. Modernity (03:24)
Iceland recently sanctioned whaling again, creating tension with whale watching operations. With a short tourist season, many locals migrate to Reykjavik for work—threatening small towns like Húsavík and representing the country’s economic dilemma.
Iceland in the Global Community (04:16)
Reykjavik's music scene has benefited from international stars like Bjork and Sigur Ros. Members of indie band Dikta have full time day jobs but sing in English to appeal to an international audience.
Iceland's Crossroads (02:04)
Hydro power and fishing may not be unlimited economic resources. Islanders must use their self-sufficiency to address climate change and sustainability challenges.
Credits: Iceland: Islands and Life (00:22)
Credits: Iceland: Islands and Life
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