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Iceland still a great country says pavilion director

2010. 3 August

( Iceland is still a wonderful place with a very efficient economy and one of the cleanest environments in the world even after being hit by the economic crisis and a massive volcanic eruption, Haflidi Savvarsson, director of Icelandic Pavilion, told Xinhua Tuesday in an exclusive interview.

Savvarsson said some media were exaggerating Iceland's predicament. "We have this feeling that a lot of that news has been wrong."

Iceland's economy was certainly shaken by the global financial crisis, he said, adding however that the economy was "very efficient and has offered some of the best living standards in the world."

Iceland usually ranked the second or third in terms of living standards in the world. And in the last few years before the crisis, its per capita national income and GDP were among the ten highest in the world, the pavilion director said.

Savvarsson also talked about the recent volcanic eruption that disrupted air traffic over Europe in April.

"It was a beautiful volcanic eruption... Fire and ice coming together," he said.

He talked of the country's pristine environment and its use of green energy.

"In Iceland we have the north Atlantic with some of the freshest, cleanest resources in the world," the pavilion director said.

"More than 80 percent of Iceland's energy consumption comes from renewable resources, hydro power plants and geothermal power plants," he said.

More than 99 percent of Iceland's electricity comes from renewable resources, Savvarsson added.

"What we are trying to do here at the world Expo is to tell people, Iceland is about so much more: Iceland is one of the cleanest countries in the world. Iceland has a modern economy," he said.

The Iceland Pavilion is run in cooperation with some 80 companies looking for business opportunities in China, which Savvarsson says is a big number considering the size of Iceland.

"I am very confident that we have managed to plant a little seed in the minds of our Chinese and overseas visitors and this little seed will eventually grow and tell them: I have to go and visit Iceland," he said.