Both tourists and foreigners living in Iceland have generally admired how respectful and open minded the Icelandic society is, especially in Reykjavík, where the biggest international community lives. According to Hagstofa Íslands (Statistics of Iceland), there are 21.500 foreigners living in the Iceland, which is the 6’6% of the population. The biggest majority is Polish, followed by Lithuanians, Danish and Germans.
In many cases, one will be able to find an organization of his or her home country, established in Iceland. These are some important ones:
The capital of the country holds the Reykjavík Multicultural Council, consisted of seven members whose role is to act as representative of the immigrant community for a two-year period. They are a bridge between the international community and the government in Iceland. The Multicultural Youth Centre, also located in Reykjavík, is a fantastic place to meet youngsters from all over the world, living in Iceland. For more info, you can click here, on an article that the European Youth Portal published last year.
Another important key player in the topic is The Multicultural Centre, which mainly offers communication between individuals of different backgrounds and enhances the services provided to foreign citizens living in Iceland and to those interested in moving to Iceland. It also offers assistance of all kinds to those looking for information about daily life in Iceland. They are located in Árnaga 2, in Ísafjördur, however, they provide service to the whole country. They also have a telephone line in Icelandic, English, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Thai, Spanish, Lithuanian and Russian (the numbers are all listed in the main page of the website). In addition, the website offers various content on: health, education, work, taxes, housing, Iceland, administration. A fundamental role of the Multicultural Centre is also, to organize all sort of events in which the intercultural exchange is the main goal. Also, it is important to mention the Women of Multicultural Ethnicity Network – W.O.M.E.N. Their goal is to unite, express and address the interests and issues of women of foreign origin living in Iceland and to bring equality to women and foreigners in all areas of society.
It is not just about the daily work to integrate foreigners in Iceland, but much more. That’s why Reykjavík celebrates every spring the “Intercultural day”, starting with a parade in which everyone is welcome to participate in. Normally, the different international organizations based in Iceland take part in it. In addition, there are activities, food markets, concerts, folkloric dances, poetry readings in different languages and lectures about immigration or integration among others.
This article was written by Celia Haro Ruiz for Eurodesk Iceland