This bare, godforsaken island in the middle of the north Atlantic catches four hours of daylight in January, snow in the winter, and a cover of volcano ash every few years. For some inexplicable reason of insanity or wanderlust, a bunch of vikings considered Iceland a better place to live than their native Scandinavia. There must have been intrigue and pursuit, and an escape to an unknown, unsympathetic land far away from family and trade. 1200 years ago Iceland may have boasted with a few forests, but it forced the settlers down to their knees, to build houses of turf, survive through volcanic eruptions, and learn to catch and eat fish.
And learn they did. The adaptability of humans is astounding. Today Reykjavik (Smoky Bay) is less smoky and the steam and heat is harnessed into a geothermic heating system for the city. And when Kaupthingi bank fell in the credit crunch storm of 2008, Iceland (in contrast to other countries in distress) went against most IMF recommendations on how to push through the crisis – and survived. Again.
Hats off to the toughest of all Nordic people.