10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Iceland
Iceland, one of the healthiest European countries, lies between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Icelanders tend to outlive people from other richer, warmer and more educated countries. Below are 10 facts about life expectancy in Iceland that determine what factors may help Icelanders live longer lives.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Iceland

  1. On average, males and females in Iceland have a life expectancy at birth of 81 and 84 years respectively. Life expectancy increased from a combined national average of 78.8 years in 1994 to a combined national average of 82.4 years in 2016.
  2. Iceland has one of the lowest mortality rates in Europe. The average mortality rate is 6.5 per 1,000 inhabitants and the infant mortality rate is 2.7 per 1,000 live births, both below the European average of 10.2 and four. Not only do children under the age of five have better survival rates, but they also have a better chance of growing into healthier adults.
  3. Compared to the OECD average of 3.4 and three per 1,000 population, Iceland has a higher number of doctors and nurses with 3.8 doctors and 15.5 nurses per 1,000. A higher proportion of medical practitioners is a reflection of Iceland’s well-performing health care system.
  4. The health expenditure in Iceland picked up in 2012 after a dip following the 2008 financial crisis. The expenditure of $4,376 per capita is higher than the OECD average of $3,854 and accounts for 8.7 percent of its GDP. It has universal health care, 85 percent Icelanders pay through taxes. Private insurance is almost absent. This shows that health care is affordable and accessible in Iceland.
  5. The diet of the Icelandic people contains more fish and less meat. Fish is more beneficial for heart health due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids. Healthier diet choices could be one factor that helps Icelandic people live longer.
  6. Research shows that the environment is a major determinant of health, and therefore, longevity. Iceland boasts clean air and water. Its dependence on geothermal resources for energy instead of fossil fuels ensures an unpolluted environment. Further, natural hot springs occur all across the country. The cleaner and colder environment protects people from many communicable and infectious diseases which may help them live longer and healthier lives.
  7. Iceland is the eighth-most urban country in the world. Ninety-four percent of its population lives in urban areas and cities with access to basic amenities like electricity, clean drinking water and sanitation. Life expectancy for a country increases with an increase in urbanization.
  8. Good genetics may have played a role in higher life expectancy of Icelanders. Studies showed that those above 90 years of age share more similar genes compared to control groups. One possible explanation could be the harsh environmental conditions that Icelanders faced historically, which filtered their genes so that they would pass on the ones that helped them survive.
  9. Despite the harsh weather conditions, Icelanders have higher physical activity when compared to other European nations. Almost 60 percent of the Icelandic people perform some form of exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. Icelandic people like to participate in outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming and skiing.
  10. Iceland has the lowest proportion of substance abusers among all European countries. It reduced its percentage of drug users from 42 percent in 1998 to five percent in 2016. By imposing curfews and keeping teens busy in sports and activities, Iceland was able to divert them from drugs towards healthy habits. This is an important factor when considering the life expectancy of a nation. People do not tend to die from drug-overdose and they also live healthier and economically stable lives.

Icelanders show that lifestyle can have a major effect on how long people live. Both the Icelandic people and their government made efforts to improve their health statistics by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and drugs and increasing physical activity. These top 10 facts about life expectancy in Iceland are full of lessons that people of other nations can learn and apply as successful health interventions.

– Navjot Buttar
Photo: Flickr


Even though it is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, Nicaragua’s green energy production is recreating the country as a regional leader. Nicaragua has quickly gone from being one of the most fossil fuel-dependent countries in the world to one of the least.

Since it has no fossil fuel reserves, Nicaragua used to have to import all of its energy resources. The lack of sufficient facilities to convert fossil fuels into electricity led to frequent and prolonged blackouts. That started to change in 2006, when rising oil prices placed a serious strain on the country’s economy. To combat the energy crisis, the government decided to make use of its natural energy resources.

Nicaragua has windy shores, rivers, waterways and numerous volcanoes which provide it with a wide array of resources to produce wind, hydro and geothermal energy. Since 2006, 1.5 billion dollars have been invested in clean and renewable energy. It now produces nearly 60 percent of its energy from renewable resources but has only tapped five percent of its clean energy potential.

The government is aiming to attract 4 billion dollars more in investment to tap more of its renewable energy resources. It is working on building solar plants to tap its solar energy potential. It is also working hard to make use of its geothermal energy potential, which is currently its biggest source of clean energy, followed closely by wind power.

Nicaragua is thought to have the highest levels of geothermal energy in Central America, being one of the most geologically active regions in the world. The Polaris geothermal plant is one of Nicaragua’s biggest energy projects. It is being built at the foot of an active volcano, and by the time it is finished, it is expected to produce 20 percent of the country’s electricity.

Government officials expect renewable resources to account for 80 percent of Nicaragua’s green energy production within a few years, and they are aiming for 90 percent by 2027. Many expect this target will be reached well before then. Nicaragua also has plans to export clean electricity to neighboring countries.

This could become an important source of revenue, through which clean energy could become a major economic industry for Nicaragua. Clean energy projects create more job opportunities, which is something the country needs. As the world drains its oil reserves, more countries are likely to look to clean energy producers like Nicaragua, which could become one of the world’s top suppliers of energy in the future.

Matt Lesso

Sources: NPR, The Christian Science Monitor, The World Bank
Photo: Seeking Santosha

World Bank Calls for a Geothermal Energy RevolutionNearly 40 countries have met their energy needs by utilizing geothermal energy. The global potential for geothermal energy is very much untapped, with worldwide geothermal electricity capacity at only 11 gigawatts, or .3% of the total global power generation. To change this, the World Bank is implementing a Global Geothermal Development Plan to generate geothermal power for low- and middle-income countries to deliver power to 1.3 billion around the world who are without it.

At the Iceland Geothermal Conference in Reykjavik on March 6, Sri Mulyani, World Bank Managing Director, spoke about the need for donations to support the Plan as well as the importance of geothermal energy for developing countries. “Geothermal energy could be a triple win for developing countries: clean, reliable, locally-produced power,” said Indrawati. “And once it is up and running, it is cheap and virtually endless.” She adds that previously geothermal energy work has been done at the national and regional levels and that what is needed now is “a global push.”

The World Bank’s plan will focus on exploratory test drilling which makes geothermal projects more capital intensive than other renewable sources due to expensive and sometimes fruitless drilling. Significant investment in these projects is needed before a site is deemed viable enough to provide considerable geothermal energy. The cost of testing the potential of a site to produce geothermal energy is US$15 to 25 million, an investment that is lost if the site proves not suitable. However, in countries with more dense populations, geothermal energy, which has the smallest land footprint per kilowatt-hour, is an especially useful resource. The goal is to develop a pipeline of projects that are commercially-viable and ready for private investment.

25% of Iceland’s electrical power is generated by geothermal power plants and 95% of Iceland is heated by volcanic hot water. Currently, Iceland is potentially looking to sell and export the surplus energy the country produces. In collaboration with Iceland, the World Bank is working to assist surface exploration studies and technical assistance for some African countries. The Olkaria Geothermal Plant in Kenya has received long-term support from the World Bank. Only 16% of the Kenyan population has access to electricity. With an abundance of geothermal resources present in East Africa’s Rift Valley, the geothermal potential could provide 150 million households with power. The World Bank’s plan is to double geothermal generation to deliver close to 30% of Kenya’s electricity by 2020. Pierre Audient, Clean Energy Program Team Leader at the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program calls it “a potentially transformative resource,” especially for many developing countries.

Throughout the developing world, there are untapped geothermal resources. Geothermal energy is carbon-free access to electricity, is relatively clean, and delivers constant power. World Bank Group funding for geothermal developments has risen from $73 million in 2007 to $336 million in 2012. With the Global Geothermal Development Plan, the World Bank hopes to increase its support.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: World Bank