Iceland. According to
Countryaah, Iceland under President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
actively sought a seat in the European arena during the
year, partly by arguing that NATO should include the former
Eastern States, and by threatening to leave the Western
European Union (WEU) if it joins the EU.
Unemployment of less than 5% and inflation of between 1
and 2%, together with strong growth, made the country meet
the criteria for EMU accession. However, President Grímsson,
like the majority of the Icelandic population, felt that
there was no reason for either an EU or an EMU connection.
Fishing conflicts with neighboring countries continued
during the year, although some clearing could be discerned
in November when Iceland together with Norway and Greenland
finally set the boundaries in the area around Jan Mayen.
However, a Norwegian decision to fine an Icelandic trawler
and its captain in June was heavily criticized from the
Relations with China were strained after a visit by
Taiwan's Vice President Lien Chan in October. China, which
claims Taiwan, demanded that Chan leave Iceland, which was
officially rejected by Icelandic officials.
In 1994, many Icelandic fishing vessels entered the
Barents Sea near Russia's and Norway's fishing borders,
triggering frictions between the parties involved. The
latter two countries had initiated a process of rebuilding
fish stocks in the area by reducing catch quotas. At the end
of 1995, diplomatic negotiations were considered the only
realistic solution to the discrepancies.
At the parliamentary elections on April 8, 1995, the
Independence Party won 25 out of the 63 seats of the Althing
and had to enter into an alliance with the Progress Party in
order to gain a majority in Parliament with its 15 seats. At
the election, the People's Alliance and the Women's Alliance
went back, while the new party, the People's Movement got
Iceland's economy grew strongly in 1995 after a number of
years of low growth. GDP growth was more than 3% and
inflation did not exceed 2%. Unemployment rose slightly due
to cuts at the US base in Keflavik, but still reached only
5%. After several years of limited fishing quotas, these
were expanded again in 1996, which boosted economic growth.
GDP grew by 5.7%, unemployment fell to 4% and inflation was
3%. Growth continued in 97, primarily stimulated by domestic
consumption. Indeed, exports increased by only 3%. A major
part of the investments was concentrated on the production
of aluminum. Several foreign companies from Switzerland, the
USA and Norway in particular intensified the processing of
After being the president of his country for 16 years,
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir decided not to take part in the June
29, 96 elections.. He took over the post on August 1st.
At the end of 1997, Iceland participated in the
international conference in Kyoto on greenhouse gas
emissions and, due to its composition, was granted
permission for increased emissions. The same was true of
countries such as Australia and Norway, while major
polluters the US and the EU were forced to reduce.
In 1998, the indicator of corruption released by
Transparancy International placed Iceland among the world's
5 least corrupt countries.
The May 1999 Alpingi election was won by the
Conservatives, who got 26 out of 63 seats. They were
followed by the Alliance of feminists, socialists and Social
Democrats with 17 seats, the Liberals who got 12 and the
Greens who got 6.
Within less than a week in June 2000, four earthquakes of
varying strength hit the southeastern part of the country,
causing panic and some damage to buildings and
infrastructure, but no injuries. Near Selfoss, a crack
occurred 130 m long and 1 m wide. 3 bridges had to be closed
in the area.
After having signed out of the International Whaling
Commission in 1993, Iceland rejoined in June 2001. But at
the same time, just one month later, the government
announced that the country was resuming commercial whaling -
despite a moratorium on this matter by the Whaling
In the 2003 elections, the Conservatives went back to 22
seats, the Progress Party got 12, and the Liberals 4.
Meanwhile, the Alliance had transformed itself into an
actual party - Samfylkingin - which got 20 and the Left
Greens got 5.