Listen to the hype and you start to understand why Iceland, this island in the middle of the North Atlantic, full of lava, moss and geysers, is the dream destination for everyone in the world. Because of Björk, because of the nature, the elves, because it does not have any army, nor nuclear power.
If there is any country in the world that only elicits only positive associations, it is Iceland. It seems that if only everybody would be a bit more Icelandic the world would be a better, a paradise.
The 2008 financial crisis destroyed Iceland’s idealistic facade. But only briefly. It didn’t take long until Iceland was again seen as a beacon of new policies, equality and justice. It became the country that not only recovered but became fairer, more democratic and value-based.
In Iceland bankers were jailed, the government was toppled, a new constitution draft was crowdsourced and all live in harmony. Except that isn’t the case. Nothing is this simple.
Iceland has a lot to be proud of and there are things that can be learned from Iceland’s recovery, but perfect it is not. The 2008 crisis was at least in some part homegrown, and seeing its recovery as flawless neglected a great deal of internal conflicts and moral shortcomings faced by Icelanders on the path to recovery.