Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Icelandic Roads

Icelandic and Faroese Photographs of Frederick W.W. Howell, Cornell University Library
Roads in Iceland remained rather primitive until after World War II.  You could not drive from one end of Iceland to the other until the mid 60s.  Taken around 1900, the above collodian print shows a sheet of lava as viewed from the road from Reykjavík to Ölvesá.

For much of Iceland's history, its people lived in rural homesteads.  Towns only began to grow in the late 1800s.  "In 1880 the country had only three townships, whose inhabitants together numbered 3,630 and accounted for only 5 percent of the entire population.  With all its attendant problems and benefits, urbanization had progressed rapidly by 1920, when seven townships with 29,000 inhabitants between them accounted for 31 percent of the the total population.  Yet, despite the growth of towns, the island was largely a rural land of fishermen and farmers." (Byock, p. 153)

No wonder the Icelandic horse developed into such a fine riding animal!!!

Source: Byock, J.  (2001).  Viking Age Iceland.  Penguin Books, London, England.

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