Saturday, February 22, 2014


Industry in Iceland

Iceland has few key industries that form the backbone of the society that here exists. Fishing, processing of fish, aluminum, strong energy industry, tourism and agriculture.
The fishing areas around Iceland are among the best in the world due to the Gulfstream and the location of the island. The foundation for the society that Iceland has now is built on these rich fishing areas.
Höfn started as a trading post for the nearby farms and sold colonial products to the farmers while buying their products for sales outside the country. Like so many other towns in Iceland, it established itself around fishing. Just outside of the coast there are rich fishing areas where herring, lobsters, capelin, cod and haddock can be brought into the fish factories and processed to be sold all over the world. For example the lobster, which Höfn has been recognized for, is sold to Japan, USA and Portugal. We even have a festival named after the lobster. The fish that can not be processed at the plant is taken to the fish smelter where it is turned into feed for animals or fertilizer. The largest fish processing plant in Höfn is run by Skinney-Þinganes, one of the largest fishing companies in Iceland.

Tourism has been a booming industry, and Iceland‘s stunning nature and massive dynamics in landscape has been the main attraction. The glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón, Blue Lagoon, the hot spring Geysir and the waterfall Gullfoss are among the biggest attraction for tourists that come to the country. In the year 2008 over to 500.000 people came to Iceland which is a staggering number compared to the population of only 320.000.

Höfn has certainly got its share of the traffic coming to the country and it would be enough to mention the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, on that subject. How the glaciers have sculptured the landscape here and their vicinity to the people here have had their influences, mostly negative, throughout the centuries. The volcano activity also bears a mark on the area around, especially in the district Öræfi, where the entire area was destroyed in a massive downfall of ash from the eruption of the volcano under the glacier Öræfajökull at 1362.
The glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón, Skaftafell and Lónsöræfi which are both part of the Vatnajökull national park are among the most impressive places to visit, though it takes a good walk to experience Lónsöræfi to its fullest. The restaurants in Höfn all offer dishes made from local materials such as the lobster gotten from the seas or the lamb and potatoes that the farmers produce.The massive glaciers provide massive amount of water just waiting to be harnessed to electricity production and powers the massive aluminum plants that are here. But it is by far just from water dams that we get the energy, we also use the warmth from geothermal areas to heat cold water to warm up houses and produce electricity.
Powered by the massive geothermal plants and water dams are the aluminum plants. There are currently 3 plants on Iceland and there is one more being built. 616.000 tons are made of aluminum in Iceland and there are plans to make yet another plant. 2 out of 3 plants already in use are working on expanding their production. To get the number in some perspective, 1 ton of aluminum can be used to make 60.000 soda cans.
Agriculture has diminish through the years as a major export industry though it has evolved into a much diverse industry over the years. Sheep, cows, ducks, hens for example are among the animals that have been domesticated here.
The freshness of Icelandic agricultural products are among the highest in the world since we do not inject our animals with steroids to enlarge them, nor give them genetically engineered corn. The animal stocks in Iceland have been isolated since the settlement of the country and thus they haven’t changed much since then. The Icelandic horse is a fine example of an animal that has adapted to Icelandic nature. The Icelandic sheep is awesome.

Written by Einar Björn and Jóhann Kristófer.