From The Editor
Þórdís Yngvadóttir is the editor and publisher of Icelandic Geographic. After working within media and publishing for a decade she established the journal in 2012. Þórdís has special interests in nature and wildlife, and wanted to publish an annual magazine dedicated to portray in an informative manner the most interesting and unique aspects of her home country. Þórdís loves travelling – though there is no place like home.
Letter from the Editor – issue 1
I enjoy travelling the world, seeing new places and experiencing unusual cultures. Consequently, I can well relate to the many visitors who come to Iceland. Here we have very special, even astonishing nature, composed of rich contrasts and tremendous variety. It only takes a few days to appreciate the country’s unique traits, whether it be steaming hot springs, heaths and fragrant moors, desert sands, volcanoes, glaciers, shorelines teaming with life, or the flourishing countryside.
Society has been influenced by nature throughout the ages, as can be clearly seen in the nation’s culture and art. And although summer and autumn are the seasons most choose to enjoy Iceland, there is certainly no less charm during the short, magical days of winter. Personally, I prefer spring, in May, when the eider ducks are laying and all of nature awakens from a long winter’s sleep.
I spent my childhood in the countryside, where my playground was the coast, the moss of the heath and a foaming freshwater stream. There I enjoyed all the freedoms rural kids have. I have precious memories of the countless times I waded out with my dog to the offshore island just below our house, and exchanged calls with seals and birds, and scouted for salmon on their way upstream. Later, it became clear to me that this ecological diversity reflected nature´s vitality.
Icelandic Geographic seeks to portray in an informative manner the most interesting and unique aspects of Iceland, and the interplay of man and nature. Our writers are all thoroughly familiar with their subjects, and some of the country’s most-talented photographers have provided images for the magazine. A number of gifted translators have helped make the message even clearer. It is my hope that the readers of Icelandic Geographic will enjoy the publication while learning more about this uniquely fascinating country.
Letter from the Editor – issue 2
Some days are perfect. Like the one in August when I sailed around the Vestmannaeyjar islands and to the volcanic island of Surtsey, which emerged from the sea during a massive eruption in 1963–67. The islands give you a sense of the awesome power of nature and of incredibly rich and varied wildlife. Whales roll in the sea and millions of birds swarm over the sheer rock walls.
Many islanders from Vestmannaeyjar reminisce about romantic evenings spent watching the fire and fury of the Surtsey eruption from the shore of Heimaey island. At the time no one dreamt that magma was also forcing its way up under Heimaey itself. There it slumbered 20 km underground until suddenly one winter’s night in January 1973 and the island’s 5,000 inhabitants were jolted from their peaceful slumbers by an eruption right on their doorstep.
The eruption on Heimaey and evacuation of its inhabitants formed one of the most dramatic events in Icelandic history. In this issue of Icelandic Geographic we commemorate the fact that 30 years have now passed since these events.
In addition to volcanic activity, this issue places special emphasis on Iceland’s varied bird-life. The Icelandic summer attracts birds from both Europe and America, which is very appropriate as geologically speaking Iceland belongs to both continents. There are even species of birds which migrate halfway round the world in order to breed in Iceland. Great stuff for birders!
Letter from the Editor – issue 3
My travels have taken me to many wonderful parts of the world. One of my favourite destinations so far is New Zealand´s south island with its magnificent mountain ranges, tranquil glacial-colored lakes and the dramatic Fiordland National Park. When experiencing this landscape of exceptional beauty, so far away from home, I could not help but think of the remote wilderness of northwest Iceland; the Vestfirðir peninsula or the Westfjords. The similarities of landscape and light are amazing. There is one huge difference though; travelers have for long been aware of the wonderful nature of New Zealand – but the Icelandic fjordland of Vestfirðir and its friendly inhabitants are still far away from the crowd giving the traveler a rare sense of discovery.
When looking at a map of Iceland, this huge peninsula in the Northwest reminds one of a troll’s hand grasping for Greenland. The Westfjords have awesome scenery and endless possibilities for tracking and wildlife spotting. And in the farthest north, hidden behind Drangajökull glacier, lies Hornstrandir Nature Reserve accessible only from sea or by foot.
Whenever I visit this edge of the Arctic the absolute freshness of the air and the mysterious light surprises me. I could spend weeks at Ísafjörður (Icefiord-town) with day trips by foot, on boat or just having a drive to my secret blueberry hill, where the berries get larger and tastier than anywhere else! We at Icelandic Geographic believe it is about time this unique fjordland is introduced to travelers round the globe.