Nika Begadze, a Georgian asylum seeker, fell into the Gullfoss waterfall this July. Begadze had fallen into the waterfall on Wednesday, July 19th. Gullfoss, which is part of the Golden Circle, is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. Search and rescue volunteers found the body on the 14th of August with the assistance of helicopters.
A summer heat wave hit the country in late July, as temperatures rose over 25°C (77°F) for the first time since 2013. The average temperature in Iceland in July is 10°C (50°F). Temperatures went to the heady heights of 27.7°C (82°F) in Fnjóskadalur, in Northeast Iceland. It appears that the news of such a heat wave was good tiding for both Icelanders and foreigners alike
The weather was quite good in July, and so it featured prominently in our most-read news stories. The temperature reached 21.6°C (70.88°F) in the capital area, the highest temperature recorded since 2008. It was also the first time in the year that the temperature topped 20°C (68°F). It appears that Iceland is not the warmest country in the world, after all.
An earthquake of the strength 4.5 on the Richter scale occurred near Bárðarbunga volcano this August, preceded by a 3.8M earthquake. It was the largest earthquake since the eruption in 2015. There has been increased activity around Bárðarbunga volcano in recent months, with this earthquake one of the larger ones. Bárðarbunga is located underneath Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest glacier.
The lack of children born with Down syndrome in Iceland caused an uproar in the United States. Around 80 to 85 percent of expecting mother elect to take a prenatal screening, which were introduced around the turn of the century. Of those who test for Down syndrome, close to a 100 percent choose to terminate the pregnancy. Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, and Senator Ted Cruz were especially critical of the practice.
A 400-meter wide cauldron had formed in the Bárðarbunga area in Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest glacier. The cauldron formed due to geothermal heat melting away the thick, glacial ice. This marked the first time in hundreds, or even thousands of years, that the ground beneath the glacier could be seen.
The case that brought the government down is one of the biggest stories of the year. The coalition government of Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn, Framsóknarflokkurinn, and Björt Framtíð disbanded due to a breach of trust surrounding a case of ‘honour restored’ for the convicted paedophile Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson. The father of Bjarni Benediktsson, then the Prime Minister, had provided a letter of recommendation for Hjalti. Bjarni elected not to disclose this information, and the governing body Björt Framtíð decided to disband the government. The toppling of the government followed a national discussion about sexual crimes and the matter of ‘restoring honour’. Read all about the case in our article linked above.
An innovative three-dimensional pedestrian crossing in Ísafjörður caught the eye of the world this past September. Workers from Vegamálun set up the crossing to lower traffic speed in Ísafjörður, which is the largest town in the Icelandic Westfjords. A photo is included in the news article linked above.
A foreign woman was found dead in her apartment in Vesturbær in Reykjavík. Two men were in the apartment when the police arrived and were arrested on the scene. This was the third murder of the year, and there would ultimately be four murders in Iceland in 2017 - the sad murder case of Birna Brjánsdóttir one of those. In the period between 1999 and 2011, there were just over 2 murders per year in the nation. The last murder-less year that passed was in 2008.
Part #4 of Year in Review will be posted on the 31st of December.