Iceland, IS by Núria Moliner
Iceland is not Reykjavík. Iceland is still dominated by nature, for now.
With an estimated population of 330,000 inhabitants on the island as a whole, almost half reside in the capital. The remaining small cities and towns are mainly reduced to small gatherings of self-built traditional and humble houses, with basic facilities and the ever-present local geothermal swimming pool.
Volcanically and geologically active, with lava fields, mountains, boiling geothermal water and glaciers, most of the Islandic environment is seemingly free from the footprint of humanity’s constructive, or destructive, tendency. Here, nature is still what defines the landscape, in an extremely powerful show in permanent demonstration.
Nevertheless, a local resident mentions an offer made by an Asian businessman to buy part of the island to extract water. Vatnajökull, the biggest glacier in Europe, is melting – losing half a meter in height every year due to global warming. Meanwhile, more and more dwellings and hotels are being built in the areas around Reykjavík. Over 1.8 million people (more than 5 times the island’s population) visited the country in 2016, resulting in a serious impact on urban growth and the Icelanders’ way of life.
A lot of things are changing in Iceland. Although nature’s strength may still be more powerful than humanity’s, it’s also possible that this precious, unique and mystic island could evolve into something different in just a few years time.