Iceland surely is a beautiful country, the example of using green energy and a land of hard working people. But how is it actually to live on this island?
Iceland for last 6 years had been the most peaceful country in the world out of 162 countries (according to Global Peace Index). This index looks at things like violent conflict, violent crime rates, freedom of the press, willingness to participate in wars, and political corruption. It’s true as there are no problems related to violence or drugs on the streets. Police is trusted as the corruption rate is really low. The whole Icelandic way of living is founded on tolerance and mutual trust.
The Icelandic education system has its roots in the Danish equivalent. There are four levels of education: pre-school, compulsory, upper secondary and higher education. Where only two middle levels are free.
Pre-schools can be attended from the age of 12 months to 6 years. The majority of Icelandic children attend pre-school and the fees are heavily subsidised by local councils.
Mandatory education starts at the age of 6 and lasts till 16. It includes compulsory education which is organised in a single structure system, where primary and lower secondary education form a part of the same school level.
Upper secondary education is not compulsory, but anyone who has completed compulsory education has the right to enter a course of studies in an upper secondary school. Students are usually 16-20 years of age. In state universities there is no tuition fees (only registration fees).
The Icelandic education system is founded on the principle of equality; everyone should have equal opportunities to get an education.
Most young people in Iceland acquire master degrees and many of them choose to study abroad as a part of their higher education. When studying abroad the students pick up cross-cultural and disciplinary competences, that adds value in they work, when they return as qualified labour to the Icelandic labour market.
Icelanders are highly computer literate and are known for being early adopters of emerging technologies. They are keen users of social networks and have the most Internet users per capita in the world.
Icelandic society is the least racially mixed – almost 300 thousand people of Iceland’s 320 thousand residents (over 93%) are Icelanders. Another biggest group consists of Polish minority – 3% of Icelandic population. Despite only few foreigners living in Iceland, Icelanders are culturally aware and tolerant.
Icelandic economy is one of the most productive in the world, and Iceland itself is considered to be one of the greenest countries on the planet due to use of vast renewable energy resources.
Let’s see what a working mother may say about living in Iceland.
The Icelandic medical care system is of high quality, and good medical treatment is available if needed. The medical system covers the expenses of the residents, however, outside the largest cities there are only a limited number of services available.
Work life balance
Icelanders work long hours since they like to have their tasks finished. That’s why it’s a challenge for them to find a work life balance. That’s why they like to combine business with pleasure. Very often business partners are invited to family dinners, which are seen as a form of entertainment.
Even though Icelanders don’t have much time off they are very keen on sports. Apart from well known activities like football and crossfit Icelanders have some unique and surprising hobbies. For example, every Icelander knows how to swim (connected with living on an island?) and during winter they love to drive snowmobiles on glaciers (there are even special fuel tanks hidden under the snow every few kilometres so that they can enjoy longer rides. Also, it’s a country where golf is enormously popular despite strong winds. From less demanding activities we’ve got salmon river fishing or lying in hot rivers and tubs.
By having such a beautiful nature it’s very tempting to go hiking or for some to go running. And it wouldn’t be anything wired if not very difficult terrain. But actually such a terrain is perfect for ultra marathoners to train. I also tried my hand but on way shorter distance of 10 km and it was demanding – sandy beach, up the hill, uneven terrain and down the hill, and all the way heavy rain, fog and strong wind. True Viking conditions.
According to the World Happiness Report 2017, Iceland is the third happiest country in the world, meaning that the people are satisfied with their lives. The data is based on research collected by economists and scientist analysing the factors that make people feel satisfied. Data points include life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, and social support.
In the old days the men went out to fish the sea and women took care of business on the land. Leaving them with the earthquakes and volcanoes, months of darkness and light. Equality between men and women prevails since the beginning of the country. Iceland is a leader in gender equality among 136 countries. Thus, Iceland is one of the world’s best places to work as a woman, where high education, health care, and equality is prioritised. Women are strongly represented in managerial position, boards and the Parliament.
Again, it’s a very computerised society. There’s a lot of online facilitations that ease people’s lives, eg. websites like www.island.is or www.skra.is that help with unregistering from Icelandic jurisdiction which next is directly sent to your bank. No papers, no queues, no hassle! Simple and effective.
Icelanders are also known as one of the world’s top ‘plastic payers’ as on Iceland one can pay with credit card almost everywhere.
The fact that 2/3 of Icelanders live in Reykjavik and adding to it Iceland’s harsh nature and difficult terrain there’s no wonder that transport infrastructure is developed mainly in the Greater Reykjavik. People get around mostly by cars or use domestic flights when travelling between larger towns as there are no public railways in the country.
Great thing about Icelandic food is the fact that Icelanders use renewable energy in food production, what together with the clean nature of land and sea gives truly healthy products.
Partially because of Icelandic small population and partially due to former Danish influence a movement of language purism rose, and now it’s the dominant linguistic policy in the country. Icelanders try not to adopt foreign words for new concepts, they’re rather opting instead to create new blends from old words. That’s how there’s útvarp not radio and lögreglan not police.