What is a rich country? Is it once the country has gained a lot of wealth? Is it when everyone has access to enough food, clothing, and shelter and can find appropriate work to support their families?
If we concentrate on the first question, the nation has amassed a sizable amount of money on a per capita basis. Iceland is a relatively wealthy nation economically, however the wealth is not spread equally among the population. In terms of GDP per person, Iceland is ranked 13th by the World Bank. It is a very good result for a country with 385 thousand inhabitants and located in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Although Covid-19 has been a difficult time, we got through it and are almost at the same place as in the years before Covid-19. The number of tourists to the country is becoming similar to the record year before Covid-19, which was 2018, and because companies and individuals were helped through difficult times, we have been able to make the best of this situation. Also, foreign labor has helped a lot.
According to the above, it looks like Iceland is doing well. But is that the reality we Icelanders live in? Most Icelanders have had a very good time in the past decade. Economic growth has been increasing and this has had a positive effect on people’s livelihoods. However, there are poor people in Iceland, but they are poor by Icelandic standards. There are not poor people like in Guatemala or in Bangladesh where there is a lack of food, clothing and housing. According to Icelandic law, you can apply to the municipality for help. Unfortunate people who have problems in life may not have a home, but usually everyone has at least a shelter. Regardless of people’s status, all residents of the country receive good health care.
The situation in Icelandic society today is such that almost everyone who is willing and able to work finds a job. Companies have relied on foreign labor to solve the most urgent need. The EES agreement has therefore helped a lot in building the society we have today. A society that I would say is a rich society in many respects.