Excerpt: Iceland

Europe’s outpost in first place

 

On the fringes of Europe lies a lonely, almost forest-free
island that is covered in snow in winter, and one-tenth of
which is covered by glaciers even in summer. It rains a
lot, and even in the warmest month the mean temperature
hardly ever rises above eleven degrees. Apart from
sheep farming, hardly any other types of agriculture are
practiced in the country, and to reach another European
country it is necessary to travel across 800 kilometres
of rough sea. It would, then, come as no surprise if the
inhabitants were to leave their island in droves in order to
find livelihoods elsewhere.

 

But the population of the Republic of Iceland has grown
by over fifty per cent in the last forty years. Across
Europe, only Liechtenstein, Albania, and Kosovo reported
higher growth between 1967 and 2007 — mainly due to
immigration. In 2007 the population increased by 2.6
per cent. The figure for the EU-27 is 0.4 per cent. A very
special economic miracle is behind this growth, because
the island was for a long time a backward country of
freedom-loving, stubborn fishermen and farmers.

 

(...)

 

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