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Stories from the New Silk Road: Iceland

Stories from the New Silk Road: Iceland

In the second episode from the Polar Silk Road, Anna Holligan and I head over to Iceland. For anyone who hasn’t been to this volcanic outpost of Europe, as soon as you get off the plane you are struck by the landscape, which is more like a moonscape, lava fields of black and grey with a few bits of green struggling to grow. 

We were in Iceland to find out more about a remote research station the Chinese have built in the far north of the island. Not far from the town of Akureyri there is the China Iceland Arctic Research Observatory (CIAO) which has been collecting information about the Aurora since 2018. We wanted to see the station for ourselves and meet with the manager of the outpost Halldór Jóhannsson. Research from here is being sent back to Beijing as well as other places interested in the Northern Lights.

From here, Anna and I went back to Reykjavík to find out how the Chinese free trade agreement has impacted this small nation of around 376,000 people. With interest in thermal energy, China has also been able to develop this renewable resource in it’s own country, helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Iceland had unusually good weather while we were there, we were lucky as it’s not normally sunny and clear. In fact, it was so unusually warm, workers could have the afternoon off to enjoy the sunshine! That’s flexible working for you!

Iceland leaves a lasting impression, a volcano was causing havoc with aviation during our last few days, but I’m desperate to go back and explore the island more. Travelling by plane to the north you get a glimpse of the ice and volcanic activity, making this the island of extremes. 

Give a listen to the latest BBC documentary here.

If this caught your interest and you missed out on our last post, be sure to read about my trip to Norway on the new Polar Silk Road and it’s effects here!