Photobook of Iceland  
 
18 September 2017
Dedicated to my loving wife, Lila





It seems the world would not be complete if a country such as Iceland hadn’t existed. Some sources say it was first settled in 874AD by people from present-day Norway, although there is evidence of Gaelic as well in the make-up the population, possibly religious figures arriving from Scotland.
     While one may think that the events in Europe couldn’t have affected Iceland much, Iceland formed a union with the other Scandinavian countries, finally becoming a self-governing territory under the Danish crown. The spirit of nationalism unleashed by the Napoleonic Wars also kindled a desire for complete self-determination, which saw Iceland become a republic in 1944.
     Nor was Iceland spared the effects of the Second World War, occupying a strategic position in the Battle of the Atlantic. Iceland was invaded by the British and later occupied by the Americans so as to release British troops for duties elsewhere.
     However, Iceland seems to have made the best of its unique situation as a geologically and volcanically unstable country. What this has meant is that she can supply all her power needs through thermal power. Severely deforested over the centuries and having suffered plagues and periods of extreme cold, a substantial percentage of Icelanders emigrated. Now, however, she is one of the few European countries showing a natural rise in population and enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world.
     Günther captures for us the majesty of this land, in all its geological splendour and the harmony that seems to exist between nature and modernity. With a small population of just over 300 000 it would seem to be easier to manage the complex demands of a modern society, and yet Iceland has not squandered its opportunities and has utilised its resources wisely. Throughout these images we see the coalescing of what is ultra-modern with the rural, with the time-honoured cycles of nature. This haven of splendid isolation beckons.
Dr Wilhelm Snyman, Cape Town, 2017