About the website
The election of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir as president of Iceland on 29 June 1980 attracted world-wide attention, this being the first time a woman had been elected as a national head of state by democratic vote. This historical event and the resounding success of Vigdís’s presidency have cast a positive light on Iceland and the Icelandic people and culture.
During her sixteen years in office Vigdís welcomed a wide array of guests to the presidential residence at Bessastaðir, ranging from heads of state and other national leaders to hundreds of Icelanders of all ages, for whom these meetings with their president will live long in the memory. On her many visits abroad Vigdís has always shown an active interest in the cultures and histories of other peoples and raised their awareness of Iceland and its natural beauty. Her interest and deep knowledge of the history of her nation, its culture and arts has done much to draw the attention of the world outside to the special characteristics of Icelandic society and Iceland’s links with other countries. Education, democracy and equal rights, alongside the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity, have remained matters close to Vigdís’s heart, and she has played an active role in areas touching on the environment, peace and humanitarian issues.
Vigdís has remained in close and living contact with her country since she stepped down as president in 1996. She has worked assiduously in her areas of special interest both at home and in the international arena. She has held a large number of official positions and lent her support to a wide range of causes through her selfless efforts. She has gained wide recognition for her work, including the award of honorary doctorates and other marks of special distinction from a large number of universities and academic institutions.
Though it is now almost twenty years since Vigdís left office there is still a steady flow of queries about her work and special contribution. In spring 2009 Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, the then minister for foreign affairs, approached the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages (VFI) about setting up a website about Vigdís’s live and work. The cost of the project was financed by the government of Iceland. The Institute oversees the website, which is hosted within the site of the University of Iceland. It presents information about Vigdís’s life and work, her presidency, projects she has been involved in since, and the influence she has exercised through her various working activities.
In addition to Icelandic, the site offers translations into English, Danish, French, Spanish and German.
Work on the site is still not complete but the foundations are in place and it remains to build upwards and outwards from them.