65° - 01.09.1967, Blaðsíða 16

65° - 01.09.1967, Blaðsíða 16
cut stones available in the country. As a result farms were built with a minimum of timber which had to be either imported or was drift wood in short lengths. In 1703, 69% of the population were dependent on agriculture alone and another 15% on both farming and fishing for their liveli- hood. Timber was used for the main passage only, for roofs, and in some farms for panelling of the main room. As a result of this scarcity of timber, each room had its separate roof. The outer walls, except for the entrance, were built of rough stones without mortar; walls and roofs were then covered with sods. Windows were in both roof and wall and were of glass or animal membrane. The Housing Report of 1940 still lists 1657 sod houses, mainly in country districts. The few still standing are, or are to be, incorporated in museums. Within these houses the farmer and his wife had either a separate bedroom or at least were partioned off from the main room. The others of the household lived in this main room and worked there as well. Beds were built along both walls and were the main furniture. People sat on their beds during the day, took their meals, card- ed and spun, made ropes and did other work sit- ting on their beds. Wooden chests were used for the storage of private property. These houses were of course always damp. Firewood was scarce, and only the kitchen was heated. The change in the housing standard has been revolutionary. Today, Iceland enjoys one of the highest housing standards in Europe, consider- ably higher than other Scandinavian countries. Oft the nearly 40 000 separate dwellings recorded in December, 1960 in Iceland, 77.8% had three rooms or more (kitchens not included), whereas in Sweden only 42.8% had dwellings as large. The tendency is for further improvements, and the dwellings built in recent years are generally larger. Some 95% of all dwellings in 1960 had some kind of central heating and at least 70% had private bathing facilities. Despite all this progress there are still some families without their own dwellings, rooming in with other people. To complete our picture of housing, it should be pointed out that the rooms of the Icelandic dwellings, particularly the sitting rooms, tend to be far larger than in other countries; quite fre- quently these measure thirty or more square metres. Household equipment has also steadily improved. Icelandic kitchens are now well at par with American ones, and in fact much equipment is imported from there. Other equipment, e.g. furniture, is rising into the luxury class. In 1965 Icelanders spent the equivalent of $100 each for the purchase of new durable household goods. When comparing this figure with American equivalents, it must be borne in mind that prices in Iceland are 200—300% of those in the U.S.A., due to transport costs and customs duties. Housing is expensive in Iceland. Due to earth- quake danger nearly all houses are now built of poured and reinforced concrete, which makes construction expensive. In 1966, the market price of a three room flat in Reykjavik was about U.S. $22 000. Taking the market price as a basis, the cost of housing, including the loss of interest on capital invested, was $290 per person a year in 1965. The climate demands good heating, and Ice- landers have now become accustomed to warm dwellings and good lighting, and in 1965, each person spent $52 for these purposes. Despite high prices, nearly 80% of all dwellings are owner- occupied. The old farms were badly lit. It was the habit during winter months to take a rest in the early evening and to get up again later to do some work within the house, such as spinning, carding and similar. Light was provided by open lamps using animal oils as lighting material and seal oil was considered the best, and there were also home made candles. These oil lamps were in use until 1870 when they had been generally replaced by petroleum lamps. But in spite of the great poverty, the culture of the ordinary people stood high. One person would read aloud on the farms, while the other worked. Electricity was first introduced in 1904 when HafnarfjorSur got a small hydroelectric station of 9 kW. By 1964, there were 50 public power plants with 149 258 kW installed power. In ad- dition, there are some 1100 private generating stations, mainly on farms and in some factories. 94.5% of all dwellings had electric light in 1960,



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