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Iceland

Yearbook 1997

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 Icelandic side.

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.

1997 Iceland

New growth

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 four seats.

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 this metal.

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 Commission.

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.

 

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