For Icelanders, It Pays To Be Weird

In recent years, Icelanders have started to appear exotic and slightly weird. As recently as twenty years ago, they preferred to be like citizens in any other European country – but there’s money to be made by standing out from the crowd.

Today, Icelanders wish to be portrayed as eccentric and as close as possible to being indigenous people. There’s a great branding value in this. In a world where big cities, with their highrise buildings, are getting increasingly similar, Iceland is moving in a slightly different direction: “There’s a branding value in being an indigenous people, formed by uncontrollable forces of nature. Icelanders have given up trying to fight off the traditional image that Europe has associated with them – and it’s paying off,” says says Ann-Sofie Gremaud, a PhD in visual culture at Copenhagen University. “Iceland has a good tale to tell the world, and European and American tourists are fascinated by the wild, the different and the eccentric.”