The party's over for Iceland, the island that tried to buy the world | The Observer:
This North Atlantic volcanic island, which is the size of Cuba, with a population of 320,000 - the size of Coventry's - is an unlikely player on the global financial stage. It is famous for its fish, geysers and for winning the UN's 2007 'best country to live in' poll. But Iceland built its extraordinary wealth on the crest of the worldwide credit boom and now the crunch is sweeping it away, bankrupting a people for whom the past eight years have been, for most of them and by their own admission, one long party.
The nation's celebrated rags-to-riches story began in the Nineties when free market reforms, fish quota cash and a stock market based on stable pension funds allowed Icelandic entrepreneurs to go out and sweep up international credit. Britain and Denmark were favourite shopping haunts, and in 2004 alone Icelanders spent �894m on shares in British companies. In just five years, the average Icelandic family saw its wealth increase by 45 per cent.