......................................................................................................................................................................................................................
 Each year, the population of roughly 300,000 inhabitants in Iceland triples with tourists arriving from around the globe seeking breathtaking vistas and itineraries packed with otherworldly tours of lava-fields, glaciers, and waterfalls. This year, an unprecedented seven hundred asylum seekers are expected to arrive in the island nation just south of the Arctic Circle, doubling last year’s count.  The majority end up in Iceland after their intended destination to the United States, Canada, or the UK is denied. A few sheltered in hostels among tourists and the rest isolated, asylum seekers predominately from the Balkans and the Middle East wait months before few are granted residency.  How do asylum seekers experience Iceland in limbo? How do resettled refugees adapt and make a home here? Is this paradise or is this purgatory?

Each year, the population of roughly 300,000 inhabitants in Iceland triples with tourists arriving from around the globe seeking breathtaking vistas and itineraries packed with otherworldly tours of lava-fields, glaciers, and waterfalls. This year, an unprecedented seven hundred asylum seekers are expected to arrive in the island nation just south of the Arctic Circle, doubling last year’s count.

The majority end up in Iceland after their intended destination to the United States, Canada, or the UK is denied. A few sheltered in hostels among tourists and the rest isolated, asylum seekers predominately from the Balkans and the Middle East wait months before few are granted residency.

How do asylum seekers experience Iceland in limbo? How do resettled refugees adapt and make a home here? Is this paradise or is this purgatory?

 Fereshte (21), Zahra (23), and their mother from Afghanistan have been residents of Reykjavik since 2012 after spending years in a refugee camp in Iran. "This is my brother's dream country" recounts Zahra as she saw the ocean for the first time upon arriving in Iceland. Having lost their father and three brothers, the family of women have adopted the culture of feminism here. "Iceland has built my new personality—to become as strong as a woman here... No one tells me here what I can't do. I'm told to follow my dreams, so I became more and more brave," Zahra confesses. Both sisters are fluent in Icelandic and are studying to practice medicine.

Fereshte (21), Zahra (23), and their mother from Afghanistan have been residents of Reykjavik since 2012 after spending years in a refugee camp in Iran. "This is my brother's dream country" recounts Zahra as she saw the ocean for the first time upon arriving in Iceland. Having lost their father and three brothers, the family of women have adopted the culture of feminism here. "Iceland has built my new personality—to become as strong as a woman here... No one tells me here what I can't do. I'm told to follow my dreams, so I became more and more brave," Zahra confesses. Both sisters are fluent in Icelandic and are studying to practice medicine.

 Mother of Zahra and Fereshte from Afghanistan enjoys collecting shells from the beach and remembers the shock upon seeing the ocean for the first time when her family arrived in Iceland. Originally she had dreamed to join relatives in Canada, but because her family could not endure another year waiting to be transfered from a refugee camp in Iran, they accepted the UN's offer for a swifter transfer to Iceland.

Mother of Zahra and Fereshte from Afghanistan enjoys collecting shells from the beach and remembers the shock upon seeing the ocean for the first time when her family arrived in Iceland. Originally she had dreamed to join relatives in Canada, but because her family could not endure another year waiting to be transfered from a refugee camp in Iran, they accepted the UN's offer for a swifter transfer to Iceland.

 Fereshte from Afghanistan was in shock when she first arrived in Iceland and saw the ocean for the first time. "Someone at school asked about my hijab and wondered if my family would hurt them." Her family had to overcome many challenges in the beginning but have since adopted the language and culture.

Fereshte from Afghanistan was in shock when she first arrived in Iceland and saw the ocean for the first time. "Someone at school asked about my hijab and wondered if my family would hurt them." Her family had to overcome many challenges in the beginning but have since adopted the language and culture.

 In summertime, Fereshte and her sister work part-time at the children's zoo and amusement park operating rides in Reykjavik. "It was hard in the beginning [when we first arrived in Iceland]... Someone at school asked about my hijab and wondered if [our] family would hurt them." Still at their workplace, "kids ask me why I wear hijab because they have never seen before, so I tell them why."

In summertime, Fereshte and her sister work part-time at the children's zoo and amusement park operating rides in Reykjavik. "It was hard in the beginning [when we first arrived in Iceland]... Someone at school asked about my hijab and wondered if [our] family would hurt them." Still at their workplace, "kids ask me why I wear hijab because they have never seen before, so I tell them why."

 Maher (37), Hiba (32) and their two daughters on board the world's largest Viking ship docked briefly in Reykjavik harbor during its transatlantic sailing expedition. Maher (right) arrived in Iceland nearly two years ago from Syria as an asylum seeker after a challenging journey through Europe and surviving a fatal sinking of a boat of refugees headed for Greece. After living in a shelter for asylum seekers for nine months, Maher was given a positive answer to remain in Iceland. His wife Hiba and children arrivedto join him in January of 2016 after he was granted family reunification.

Maher (37), Hiba (32) and their two daughters on board the world's largest Viking ship docked briefly in Reykjavik harbor during its transatlantic sailing expedition. Maher (right) arrived in Iceland nearly two years ago from Syria as an asylum seeker after a challenging journey through Europe and surviving a fatal sinking of a boat of refugees headed for Greece. After living in a shelter for asylum seekers for nine months, Maher was given a positive answer to remain in Iceland. His wife Hiba and children arrivedto join him in January of 2016 after he was granted family reunification.

 Maher and Hiba prepares traditional Syrian dishes at home, often pickling their own vegetables and making bread and hummus from scratch.

Maher and Hiba prepares traditional Syrian dishes at home, often pickling their own vegetables and making bread and hummus from scratch.

 "Are we in paradise?", Maria (6) and Sarah (5) asked their mother when they first arrived from a refugee camp in Lebanon to join their father in Iceland on January 2016. Days later, a celebration of fireworks in Reykjavik terrified the children and reminded them of bombs in Syria.

"Are we in paradise?", Maria (6) and Sarah (5) asked their mother when they first arrived from a refugee camp in Lebanon to join their father in Iceland on January 2016. Days later, a celebration of fireworks in Reykjavik terrified the children and reminded them of bombs in Syria.

 "Our daughters can be independent [here]" says Hiba, who keeps an eye on her girls from their apartment balcony in Reykjavik. Back in Syria, Hiba worried about the safety of her daughters crossing the street from the bus to their school, because of attacks throughout the city.

"Our daughters can be independent [here]" says Hiba, who keeps an eye on her girls from their apartment balcony in Reykjavik. Back in Syria, Hiba worried about the safety of her daughters crossing the street from the bus to their school, because of attacks throughout the city.

 Sisters Maria and Sarah have learned to relax, enjoy their new surroundings and make friends in school. Their greatest wish was to see their grandmother who had helped raise the girls in Syria. Their family managed to save enough after one year to bring their widowed grandmother to safety in Iceland.

Sisters Maria and Sarah have learned to relax, enjoy their new surroundings and make friends in school. Their greatest wish was to see their grandmother who had helped raise the girls in Syria. Their family managed to save enough after one year to bring their widowed grandmother to safety in Iceland.

 Maher works long hours and holds two jobs, delivering the newspaper in the morning before working at a textile factory, embroidering wool accessories popular with tourists in Reykjavik. Maher's home was bombed in Damascus, and his embroidery machine was the only item that survived the fallout. When Maher first arrived in Iceland as an asylum seeker, he was sheltered at a hostel near Keflavik International Airport. He recounts having trouble sleeping at night due to the frequent noise of planes flying over, which would trigger memories of falling bombs in Syria and revive fears of deportation.

Maher works long hours and holds two jobs, delivering the newspaper in the morning before working at a textile factory, embroidering wool accessories popular with tourists in Reykjavik. Maher's home was bombed in Damascus, and his embroidery machine was the only item that survived the fallout. When Maher first arrived in Iceland as an asylum seeker, he was sheltered at a hostel near Keflavik International Airport. He recounts having trouble sleeping at night due to the frequent noise of planes flying over, which would trigger memories of falling bombs in Syria and revive fears of deportation.

 Maher and Hiba's family enjoy a shared dinner of local and Syrian flavors with a welcoming Icelandic family in Reykjavik. "We are an open house" says Linda Hreggvidsdottir and her husband Kjartan Rolf Arnason who befriended the Syrian family and supports other refugees and asylum seekers arriving to Iceland.

Maher and Hiba's family enjoy a shared dinner of local and Syrian flavors with a welcoming Icelandic family in Reykjavik. "We are an open house" says Linda Hreggvidsdottir and her husband Kjartan Rolf Arnason who befriended the Syrian family and supports other refugees and asylum seekers arriving to Iceland.

 Detail of chairs at a recreation room in Akranes. About forty to fifty men from dozens of different countries seeking asylum are housed in an isolated rural area, distant and difficult to reach from Reykjavik.

Detail of chairs at a recreation room in Akranes. About forty to fifty men from dozens of different countries seeking asylum are housed in an isolated rural area, distant and difficult to reach from Reykjavik.

 Merlin (24) an asylum seeker temporarily housed in Akranes "wanted to get as far away from Honduras as possible" and arrived in Iceland in spring of 2016 after researching various countries open to refugees. He was forced to flee due to extortion back home when corrupt police threatened him at gun point to pay a cut of his earnings from his internet cafe business every month, causing him to lose over fifity percent of his family's annual income.

Merlin (24) an asylum seeker temporarily housed in Akranes "wanted to get as far away from Honduras as possible" and arrived in Iceland in spring of 2016 after researching various countries open to refugees. He was forced to flee due to extortion back home when corrupt police threatened him at gun point to pay a cut of his earnings from his internet cafe business every month, causing him to lose over fifity percent of his family's annual income.

 Merlin (24) an asylum seeker temporarily housed in Akranes "wanted to get as far away from Honduras as possible" and arrived in Iceland after researching various countries open to refugees. Unlike Honduras, extreme winds with cold weather and the greater cost of living in Iceland will take some getting use to but he hopes to stay in Iceland and bring his wife and two young daughters here. Merlin tries to avoid spending time in his "depressing" room as much as possible by occupying himself with cooking, singing and listening to music in the recreation room, and attending "Open House" events held weekly at the Red Cross.

Merlin (24) an asylum seeker temporarily housed in Akranes "wanted to get as far away from Honduras as possible" and arrived in Iceland after researching various countries open to refugees. Unlike Honduras, extreme winds with cold weather and the greater cost of living in Iceland will take some getting use to but he hopes to stay in Iceland and bring his wife and two young daughters here. Merlin tries to avoid spending time in his "depressing" room as much as possible by occupying himself with cooking, singing and listening to music in the recreation room, and attending "Open House" events held weekly at the Red Cross.

 Detail of DVDs with missing TV and DVD player from a recreation room in Akranes. About forty to fifty men from dozens of different countries seeking asylum are housed in an isolated rural area distant and difficult to reach from Reykjavik.

Detail of DVDs with missing TV and DVD player from a recreation room in Akranes. About forty to fifty men from dozens of different countries seeking asylum are housed in an isolated rural area distant and difficult to reach from Reykjavik.

 Laundry hung to dry at a shelter for asylum seekers in Akranes, Iceland.

Laundry hung to dry at a shelter for asylum seekers in Akranes, Iceland.

 Ihsan (29) in his room in a shelter for asylum seekers in Akranes. Waiting for over three months for a positive answer, Ihsan reasoned he had no choice but to flee Pakistan after the Taliban issued multiple threats on his life for assisting the international non-profit Doctors without Borders as a practicing Muslim. Boredom and anxiety face asylum seekers in limbo who are not permitted to work and particularly those who live in shelters isolated in rural areas, distant and difficult to reach from the capital, Reykjavik.

Ihsan (29) in his room in a shelter for asylum seekers in Akranes. Waiting for over three months for a positive answer, Ihsan reasoned he had no choice but to flee Pakistan after the Taliban issued multiple threats on his life for assisting the international non-profit Doctors without Borders as a practicing Muslim. Boredom and anxiety face asylum seekers in limbo who are not permitted to work and particularly those who live in shelters isolated in rural areas, distant and difficult to reach from the capital, Reykjavik.

 Ihsan and three other asylum seekers from Iraq pass the time at the foosball table in the otherwise spare accomodations provided to them in rural Akranes, about 26 miles outside of Reykjavik.

Ihsan and three other asylum seekers from Iraq pass the time at the foosball table in the otherwise spare accomodations provided to them in rural Akranes, about 26 miles outside of Reykjavik.

 Asylum seekers from Iraq, Pakistan, and Nigeria cook and share an occasional meal together at an isolated shelter hosting forty to fifty men in Akranes.

Asylum seekers from Iraq, Pakistan, and Nigeria cook and share an occasional meal together at an isolated shelter hosting forty to fifty men in Akranes.

 Asylum seekers on a lava field on Reykjanes Peninsula near Keflavik Airport. The three under-aged boys from the Middle East and Balkans formed a friendship, but only two were granted asylum to stay in Iceland.

Asylum seekers on a lava field on Reykjanes Peninsula near Keflavik Airport. The three under-aged boys from the Middle East and Balkans formed a friendship, but only two were granted asylum to stay in Iceland.

 Reza, an asylum seeker from Iran was finally granted asylum in May 2016 after after living in limbo for eight years in Norway, followed by one and a half years in Iceland. Reza now volunteers much of his time to assisting and translating for incoming asylum seekers.

Reza, an asylum seeker from Iran was finally granted asylum in May 2016 after after living in limbo for eight years in Norway, followed by one and a half years in Iceland. Reza now volunteers much of his time to assisting and translating for incoming asylum seekers.

 Two Iranian asylum seekers who have been granted asylum explore the iconic Harpa concert hall located in the center of Reykjavik. Without family in Iceland, they have built a father and son like bond during their time in limbo and continue to care for each other's needs.

Two Iranian asylum seekers who have been granted asylum explore the iconic Harpa concert hall located in the center of Reykjavik. Without family in Iceland, they have built a father and son like bond during their time in limbo and continue to care for each other's needs.

 Two Iranian refugees inside the iconic Harpa concert hall overlooking downtown Reykjavik. Without family in Iceland, they have built a father and son like bond during their time in limbo as asylum seekers and continue to care for each other's needs.

Two Iranian refugees inside the iconic Harpa concert hall overlooking downtown Reykjavik. Without family in Iceland, they have built a father and son like bond during their time in limbo as asylum seekers and continue to care for each other's needs.

 A pastor for immigrants in Iceland ordered a Bible written in Farsi for Iranian Christian asylum seekers. The Bible is illegal according to the Islamic government of Iran, and keeping one is considered a crime.

A pastor for immigrants in Iceland ordered a Bible written in Farsi for Iranian Christian asylum seekers. The Bible is illegal according to the Islamic government of Iran, and keeping one is considered a crime.

 A weekly prayer meeting held at Hjallakirkja, a church in Kopavogur attracts a number of asylum seekers, often individuals fleeing religious persecution from Muslim countries.

A weekly prayer meeting held at Hjallakirkja, a church in Kopavogur attracts a number of asylum seekers, often individuals fleeing religious persecution from Muslim countries.

 An asylum seeker from Iran is baptized at Hjallakirkja church. Often asylum seekers from Muslim countries turn to the Christian faith before arriving in Iceland, but some convert during their time in Iceland.

An asylum seeker from Iran is baptized at Hjallakirkja church. Often asylum seekers from Muslim countries turn to the Christian faith before arriving in Iceland, but some convert during their time in Iceland.

 Three asylum seekers from Iran at the baptismal font during a Sunday service at Hjallakirkja church were recently granted asylum. The men adopted new Christian names: Daniel, Benjamin, and Abraham.

Three asylum seekers from Iran at the baptismal font during a Sunday service at Hjallakirkja church were recently granted asylum. The men adopted new Christian names: Daniel, Benjamin, and Abraham.

 Three asylum seekers recently granted asylum from Iran at the baptismal font during a Sunday service at Hjallakirkja church. The men adopted new Christian names: Daniel, Benjamin, and Abraham.

Three asylum seekers recently granted asylum from Iran at the baptismal font during a Sunday service at Hjallakirkja church. The men adopted new Christian names: Daniel, Benjamin, and Abraham.

 Toshiki Toma, a Lutheran pastor for immigrants in Iceland is a tireless advocate for asylum seekers, counseling and supporting their cases during their time in Iceland. Originally from Japan, Toma has been a citizen of Iceland for over twenty-four years and has baptized twenty-four asylum seekers since August 2015 due the recent increasing influx of asylum seekers arriving in Iceland. At least five asylum seekers out of the twenty-four had received a positive answer to stay in Iceland prior to their baptism.

Toshiki Toma, a Lutheran pastor for immigrants in Iceland is a tireless advocate for asylum seekers, counseling and supporting their cases during their time in Iceland. Originally from Japan, Toma has been a citizen of Iceland for over twenty-four years and has baptized twenty-four asylum seekers since August 2015 due the recent increasing influx of asylum seekers arriving in Iceland. At least five asylum seekers out of the twenty-four had received a positive answer to stay in Iceland prior to their baptism.

 Toshiki Toma, a pastor for immigrants, takes the stage at a "No Borders" protest on May, 25, 2016 in front of the central police station in downtown Reykjavik where friend and asylum seeker Eze is jailed and was arrested suddenly hours earlier to be deported the next day. Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker had been living in Iceland for four years and has a strong show of community support in Iceland demonstrating to bring him back to Iceland.

Toshiki Toma, a pastor for immigrants, takes the stage at a "No Borders" protest on May, 25, 2016 in front of the central police station in downtown Reykjavik where friend and asylum seeker Eze is jailed and was arrested suddenly hours earlier to be deported the next day. Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker had been living in Iceland for four years and has a strong show of community support in Iceland demonstrating to bring him back to Iceland.

 A crowd gathers in front of the Reykjavik police station for a "No Borders" initiated demonstration, protesting the detainment and deportation of Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker on May 25, 2016. "No Borders" Iceland, formed in 2012 is part of a loosely connected international network of groups and grass-root organisations which "aims to diminish racism and nationalism along with the discrimination and violence that stem from such ideas".

A crowd gathers in front of the Reykjavik police station for a "No Borders" initiated demonstration, protesting the detainment and deportation of Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker on May 25, 2016. "No Borders" Iceland, formed in 2012 is part of a loosely connected international network of groups and grass-root organisations which "aims to diminish racism and nationalism along with the discrimination and violence that stem from such ideas".

 Protesters gather in front of the Reykjavik police station for a "No Borders" initiated demonstration, protesting the detainment and deportation of Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker on May 25, 2016.

Protesters gather in front of the Reykjavik police station for a "No Borders" initiated demonstration, protesting the detainment and deportation of Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker on May 25, 2016.

 A Nigerian family fearing their deportation after receiving two negative responses to their application for asylum in Iceland took to protesting outside Iceland's Parliament building with no other means of recourse left. The posters read: "This family needs humanitarian help. Our children should not be victims of [kidnap] or Boko Haram… Please save the futures of [these] kids. Deportation is not the solution for the children… My son is in [school] here already and has a lot of friend and [adapted] to the society. Sending me and my family back to Africa is for my children [to witness] the death of their mother because I could not afford the necessary medications (for Salome's diabetes) in Africa. Please save a soul. Thanks." Two months later on July 20, 2016, Stephen, Salome and their two children were granted asylum after two years in Iceland.

A Nigerian family fearing their deportation after receiving two negative responses to their application for asylum in Iceland took to protesting outside Iceland's Parliament building with no other means of recourse left. The posters read: "This family needs humanitarian help. Our children should not be victims of [kidnap] or Boko Haram… Please save the futures of [these] kids. Deportation is not the solution for the children… My son is in [school] here already and has a lot of friend and [adapted] to the society. Sending me and my family back to Africa is for my children [to witness] the death of their mother because I could not afford the necessary medications (for Salome's diabetes) in Africa. Please save a soul. Thanks." Two months later on July 20, 2016, Stephen, Salome and their two children were granted asylum after two years in Iceland.

 Salome, mother of two, has a serious case of diabetes in which she requires 3-4 injections everyday. After many appeals over the course of two years in Iceland, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.

Salome, mother of two, has a serious case of diabetes in which she requires 3-4 injections everyday. After many appeals over the course of two years in Iceland, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.

 Salome with her one-year-old daughter Anna while her son attends preschool during the day across the street from their home. After many appeals over the course of two years in Iceland, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.

Salome with her one-year-old daughter Anna while her son attends preschool during the day across the street from their home. After many appeals over the course of two years in Iceland, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.

 One-year-old Anna and her family at a temporary home in Reykjanesbær, Iceland. After many appeals over the course of two years, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.

One-year-old Anna and her family at a temporary home in Reykjanesbær, Iceland. After many appeals over the course of two years, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.

 Fadila from Ghana gave birth to two children in Iceland since arriving as an asylum seeker in 2014. She was later joined by her husband from Togo. Hanif is two years old and Jonina is 2-months old. They were finally granted asylum in Iceland on June 20, 2017. 

Fadila from Ghana gave birth to two children in Iceland since arriving as an asylum seeker in 2014. She was later joined by her husband from Togo. Hanif is two years old and Jonina is 2-months old. They were finally granted asylum in Iceland on June 20, 2017. 

 Sinam and Hassan, a former Peshmerga from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq chose to seek asylum in Iceland nearly three years ago in hopes of a better future for their children and because "it is far away and there are not many people." The family of six had received numerous negatives because they were finger-printed in Italy prior to their arrival in Iceland. Due to the support and efforts of their local Icelandic community, Sinam and her family were finally granted permission to remain in Iceland as of May 18th, 2017.

Sinam and Hassan, a former Peshmerga from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq chose to seek asylum in Iceland nearly three years ago in hopes of a better future for their children and because "it is far away and there are not many people." The family of six had received numerous negatives because they were finger-printed in Italy prior to their arrival in Iceland. Due to the support and efforts of their local Icelandic community, Sinam and her family were finally granted permission to remain in Iceland as of May 18th, 2017.

 Bedroom of Hassan and Sinam's twelve-year-old son who is enrolled in school and has made friends since the family's arrival in Iceland nearly three years ago.

Bedroom of Hassan and Sinam's twelve-year-old son who is enrolled in school and has made friends since the family's arrival in Iceland nearly three years ago.

 Daughters of Hassan and Sinam from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq enjoy learning Icelandic and going out with friends from school.   

Daughters of Hassan and Sinam from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq enjoy learning Icelandic and going out with friends from school. 
 

 Sinam from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq feared deportation for three years since their arrival, as her family have adapted to life in Iceland. Her husband Hassan, a former Peshmerga from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq chose to seek asylum in Iceland nearly three years ago in hopes of a better future for their children and because "it is far away and there are not many people." The family of six had received numerous negatives because they were finger-printed in Italy prior to their arrival in Iceland. Due to the support and efforts of their local Icelandic community, Sinam and her family were finally granted permission to remain in Iceland as of May 18th, 2017.

Sinam from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq feared deportation for three years since their arrival, as her family have adapted to life in Iceland. Her husband Hassan, a former Peshmerga from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq chose to seek asylum in Iceland nearly three years ago in hopes of a better future for their children and because "it is far away and there are not many people." The family of six had received numerous negatives because they were finger-printed in Italy prior to their arrival in Iceland. Due to the support and efforts of their local Icelandic community, Sinam and her family were finally granted permission to remain in Iceland as of May 18th, 2017.

 Icelanders lead the parade on the eighth annual "Multicultural Day" celebration in Reykjavik on May 28, 2016.

Icelanders lead the parade on the eighth annual "Multicultural Day" celebration in Reykjavik on May 28, 2016.

 Immigrant residents representing their country of origin participate in a parade on the eighth annual "Multicultural Day" festival and celebration in Reykjavik on May 28, 2016.

Immigrant residents representing their country of origin participate in a parade on the eighth annual "Multicultural Day" festival and celebration in Reykjavik on May 28, 2016.

 Asylum seekers and refugees play a game of pick up football with local Icelanders in Reykjavik.

Asylum seekers and refugees play a game of pick up football with local Icelanders in Reykjavik.

Each year, the population of roughly 300,000 inhabitants in Iceland triples with tourists arriving from around the globe seeking breathtaking vistas and itineraries packed with otherworldly tours of lava-fields, glaciers, and waterfalls. This year, an unprecedented seven hundred asylum seekers are expected to arrive in the island nation just south of the Arctic Circle, doubling last year’s count.

The majority end up in Iceland after their intended destination to the United States, Canada, or the UK is denied. A few sheltered in hostels among tourists and the rest isolated, asylum seekers predominately from the Balkans and the Middle East wait months before few are granted residency.

How do asylum seekers experience Iceland in limbo? How do resettled refugees adapt and make a home here? Is this paradise or is this purgatory?

Fereshte (21), Zahra (23), and their mother from Afghanistan have been residents of Reykjavik since 2012 after spending years in a refugee camp in Iran. "This is my brother's dream country" recounts Zahra as she saw the ocean for the first time upon arriving in Iceland. Having lost their father and three brothers, the family of women have adopted the culture of feminism here. "Iceland has built my new personality—to become as strong as a woman here... No one tells me here what I can't do. I'm told to follow my dreams, so I became more and more brave," Zahra confesses. Both sisters are fluent in Icelandic and are studying to practice medicine.

Mother of Zahra and Fereshte from Afghanistan enjoys collecting shells from the beach and remembers the shock upon seeing the ocean for the first time when her family arrived in Iceland. Originally she had dreamed to join relatives in Canada, but because her family could not endure another year waiting to be transfered from a refugee camp in Iran, they accepted the UN's offer for a swifter transfer to Iceland.

Fereshte from Afghanistan was in shock when she first arrived in Iceland and saw the ocean for the first time. "Someone at school asked about my hijab and wondered if my family would hurt them." Her family had to overcome many challenges in the beginning but have since adopted the language and culture.

In summertime, Fereshte and her sister work part-time at the children's zoo and amusement park operating rides in Reykjavik. "It was hard in the beginning [when we first arrived in Iceland]... Someone at school asked about my hijab and wondered if [our] family would hurt them." Still at their workplace, "kids ask me why I wear hijab because they have never seen before, so I tell them why."

Maher (37), Hiba (32) and their two daughters on board the world's largest Viking ship docked briefly in Reykjavik harbor during its transatlantic sailing expedition. Maher (right) arrived in Iceland nearly two years ago from Syria as an asylum seeker after a challenging journey through Europe and surviving a fatal sinking of a boat of refugees headed for Greece. After living in a shelter for asylum seekers for nine months, Maher was given a positive answer to remain in Iceland. His wife Hiba and children arrivedto join him in January of 2016 after he was granted family reunification.

Maher and Hiba prepares traditional Syrian dishes at home, often pickling their own vegetables and making bread and hummus from scratch.

"Are we in paradise?", Maria (6) and Sarah (5) asked their mother when they first arrived from a refugee camp in Lebanon to join their father in Iceland on January 2016. Days later, a celebration of fireworks in Reykjavik terrified the children and reminded them of bombs in Syria.

"Our daughters can be independent [here]" says Hiba, who keeps an eye on her girls from their apartment balcony in Reykjavik. Back in Syria, Hiba worried about the safety of her daughters crossing the street from the bus to their school, because of attacks throughout the city.

Sisters Maria and Sarah have learned to relax, enjoy their new surroundings and make friends in school. Their greatest wish was to see their grandmother who had helped raise the girls in Syria. Their family managed to save enough after one year to bring their widowed grandmother to safety in Iceland.

Maher works long hours and holds two jobs, delivering the newspaper in the morning before working at a textile factory, embroidering wool accessories popular with tourists in Reykjavik. Maher's home was bombed in Damascus, and his embroidery machine was the only item that survived the fallout. When Maher first arrived in Iceland as an asylum seeker, he was sheltered at a hostel near Keflavik International Airport. He recounts having trouble sleeping at night due to the frequent noise of planes flying over, which would trigger memories of falling bombs in Syria and revive fears of deportation.

Maher and Hiba's family enjoy a shared dinner of local and Syrian flavors with a welcoming Icelandic family in Reykjavik. "We are an open house" says Linda Hreggvidsdottir and her husband Kjartan Rolf Arnason who befriended the Syrian family and supports other refugees and asylum seekers arriving to Iceland.

Detail of chairs at a recreation room in Akranes. About forty to fifty men from dozens of different countries seeking asylum are housed in an isolated rural area, distant and difficult to reach from Reykjavik.

Merlin (24) an asylum seeker temporarily housed in Akranes "wanted to get as far away from Honduras as possible" and arrived in Iceland in spring of 2016 after researching various countries open to refugees. He was forced to flee due to extortion back home when corrupt police threatened him at gun point to pay a cut of his earnings from his internet cafe business every month, causing him to lose over fifity percent of his family's annual income.

Merlin (24) an asylum seeker temporarily housed in Akranes "wanted to get as far away from Honduras as possible" and arrived in Iceland after researching various countries open to refugees. Unlike Honduras, extreme winds with cold weather and the greater cost of living in Iceland will take some getting use to but he hopes to stay in Iceland and bring his wife and two young daughters here. Merlin tries to avoid spending time in his "depressing" room as much as possible by occupying himself with cooking, singing and listening to music in the recreation room, and attending "Open House" events held weekly at the Red Cross.

Detail of DVDs with missing TV and DVD player from a recreation room in Akranes. About forty to fifty men from dozens of different countries seeking asylum are housed in an isolated rural area distant and difficult to reach from Reykjavik.

Laundry hung to dry at a shelter for asylum seekers in Akranes, Iceland.

Ihsan (29) in his room in a shelter for asylum seekers in Akranes. Waiting for over three months for a positive answer, Ihsan reasoned he had no choice but to flee Pakistan after the Taliban issued multiple threats on his life for assisting the international non-profit Doctors without Borders as a practicing Muslim. Boredom and anxiety face asylum seekers in limbo who are not permitted to work and particularly those who live in shelters isolated in rural areas, distant and difficult to reach from the capital, Reykjavik.

Ihsan and three other asylum seekers from Iraq pass the time at the foosball table in the otherwise spare accomodations provided to them in rural Akranes, about 26 miles outside of Reykjavik.

Asylum seekers from Iraq, Pakistan, and Nigeria cook and share an occasional meal together at an isolated shelter hosting forty to fifty men in Akranes.

Asylum seekers on a lava field on Reykjanes Peninsula near Keflavik Airport. The three under-aged boys from the Middle East and Balkans formed a friendship, but only two were granted asylum to stay in Iceland.

Reza, an asylum seeker from Iran was finally granted asylum in May 2016 after after living in limbo for eight years in Norway, followed by one and a half years in Iceland. Reza now volunteers much of his time to assisting and translating for incoming asylum seekers.

Two Iranian asylum seekers who have been granted asylum explore the iconic Harpa concert hall located in the center of Reykjavik. Without family in Iceland, they have built a father and son like bond during their time in limbo and continue to care for each other's needs.

Two Iranian refugees inside the iconic Harpa concert hall overlooking downtown Reykjavik. Without family in Iceland, they have built a father and son like bond during their time in limbo as asylum seekers and continue to care for each other's needs.

A pastor for immigrants in Iceland ordered a Bible written in Farsi for Iranian Christian asylum seekers. The Bible is illegal according to the Islamic government of Iran, and keeping one is considered a crime.

A weekly prayer meeting held at Hjallakirkja, a church in Kopavogur attracts a number of asylum seekers, often individuals fleeing religious persecution from Muslim countries.

An asylum seeker from Iran is baptized at Hjallakirkja church. Often asylum seekers from Muslim countries turn to the Christian faith before arriving in Iceland, but some convert during their time in Iceland.

Three asylum seekers from Iran at the baptismal font during a Sunday service at Hjallakirkja church were recently granted asylum. The men adopted new Christian names: Daniel, Benjamin, and Abraham.

Three asylum seekers recently granted asylum from Iran at the baptismal font during a Sunday service at Hjallakirkja church. The men adopted new Christian names: Daniel, Benjamin, and Abraham.

Toshiki Toma, a Lutheran pastor for immigrants in Iceland is a tireless advocate for asylum seekers, counseling and supporting their cases during their time in Iceland. Originally from Japan, Toma has been a citizen of Iceland for over twenty-four years and has baptized twenty-four asylum seekers since August 2015 due the recent increasing influx of asylum seekers arriving in Iceland. At least five asylum seekers out of the twenty-four had received a positive answer to stay in Iceland prior to their baptism.

Toshiki Toma, a pastor for immigrants, takes the stage at a "No Borders" protest on May, 25, 2016 in front of the central police station in downtown Reykjavik where friend and asylum seeker Eze is jailed and was arrested suddenly hours earlier to be deported the next day. Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker had been living in Iceland for four years and has a strong show of community support in Iceland demonstrating to bring him back to Iceland.

A crowd gathers in front of the Reykjavik police station for a "No Borders" initiated demonstration, protesting the detainment and deportation of Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker on May 25, 2016. "No Borders" Iceland, formed in 2012 is part of a loosely connected international network of groups and grass-root organisations which "aims to diminish racism and nationalism along with the discrimination and violence that stem from such ideas".

Protesters gather in front of the Reykjavik police station for a "No Borders" initiated demonstration, protesting the detainment and deportation of Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker on May 25, 2016.

A Nigerian family fearing their deportation after receiving two negative responses to their application for asylum in Iceland took to protesting outside Iceland's Parliament building with no other means of recourse left. The posters read: "This family needs humanitarian help. Our children should not be victims of [kidnap] or Boko Haram… Please save the futures of [these] kids. Deportation is not the solution for the children… My son is in [school] here already and has a lot of friend and [adapted] to the society. Sending me and my family back to Africa is for my children [to witness] the death of their mother because I could not afford the necessary medications (for Salome's diabetes) in Africa. Please save a soul. Thanks." Two months later on July 20, 2016, Stephen, Salome and their two children were granted asylum after two years in Iceland.

Salome, mother of two, has a serious case of diabetes in which she requires 3-4 injections everyday. After many appeals over the course of two years in Iceland, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.

Salome with her one-year-old daughter Anna while her son attends preschool during the day across the street from their home. After many appeals over the course of two years in Iceland, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.

One-year-old Anna and her family at a temporary home in Reykjanesbær, Iceland. After many appeals over the course of two years, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.

Fadila from Ghana gave birth to two children in Iceland since arriving as an asylum seeker in 2014. She was later joined by her husband from Togo. Hanif is two years old and Jonina is 2-months old. They were finally granted asylum in Iceland on June 20, 2017. 

Sinam and Hassan, a former Peshmerga from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq chose to seek asylum in Iceland nearly three years ago in hopes of a better future for their children and because "it is far away and there are not many people." The family of six had received numerous negatives because they were finger-printed in Italy prior to their arrival in Iceland. Due to the support and efforts of their local Icelandic community, Sinam and her family were finally granted permission to remain in Iceland as of May 18th, 2017.

Bedroom of Hassan and Sinam's twelve-year-old son who is enrolled in school and has made friends since the family's arrival in Iceland nearly three years ago.

Daughters of Hassan and Sinam from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq enjoy learning Icelandic and going out with friends from school. 
 

Sinam from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq feared deportation for three years since their arrival, as her family have adapted to life in Iceland. Her husband Hassan, a former Peshmerga from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq chose to seek asylum in Iceland nearly three years ago in hopes of a better future for their children and because "it is far away and there are not many people." The family of six had received numerous negatives because they were finger-printed in Italy prior to their arrival in Iceland. Due to the support and efforts of their local Icelandic community, Sinam and her family were finally granted permission to remain in Iceland as of May 18th, 2017.

Icelanders lead the parade on the eighth annual "Multicultural Day" celebration in Reykjavik on May 28, 2016.

Immigrant residents representing their country of origin participate in a parade on the eighth annual "Multicultural Day" festival and celebration in Reykjavik on May 28, 2016.

Asylum seekers and refugees play a game of pick up football with local Icelanders in Reykjavik.

 Each year, the population of roughly 300,000 inhabitants in Iceland triples with tourists arriving from around the globe seeking breathtaking vistas and itineraries packed with otherworldly tours of lava-fields, glaciers, and waterfalls. This year, an unprecedented seven hundred asylum seekers are expected to arrive in the island nation just south of the Arctic Circle, doubling last year’s count.  The majority end up in Iceland after their intended destination to the United States, Canada, or the UK is denied. A few sheltered in hostels among tourists and the rest isolated, asylum seekers predominately from the Balkans and the Middle East wait months before few are granted residency.  How do asylum seekers experience Iceland in limbo? How do resettled refugees adapt and make a home here? Is this paradise or is this purgatory?
 Fereshte (21), Zahra (23), and their mother from Afghanistan have been residents of Reykjavik since 2012 after spending years in a refugee camp in Iran. "This is my brother's dream country" recounts Zahra as she saw the ocean for the first time upon arriving in Iceland. Having lost their father and three brothers, the family of women have adopted the culture of feminism here. "Iceland has built my new personality—to become as strong as a woman here... No one tells me here what I can't do. I'm told to follow my dreams, so I became more and more brave," Zahra confesses. Both sisters are fluent in Icelandic and are studying to practice medicine.
 Mother of Zahra and Fereshte from Afghanistan enjoys collecting shells from the beach and remembers the shock upon seeing the ocean for the first time when her family arrived in Iceland. Originally she had dreamed to join relatives in Canada, but because her family could not endure another year waiting to be transfered from a refugee camp in Iran, they accepted the UN's offer for a swifter transfer to Iceland.
 Fereshte from Afghanistan was in shock when she first arrived in Iceland and saw the ocean for the first time. "Someone at school asked about my hijab and wondered if my family would hurt them." Her family had to overcome many challenges in the beginning but have since adopted the language and culture.
 In summertime, Fereshte and her sister work part-time at the children's zoo and amusement park operating rides in Reykjavik. "It was hard in the beginning [when we first arrived in Iceland]... Someone at school asked about my hijab and wondered if [our] family would hurt them." Still at their workplace, "kids ask me why I wear hijab because they have never seen before, so I tell them why."
 Maher (37), Hiba (32) and their two daughters on board the world's largest Viking ship docked briefly in Reykjavik harbor during its transatlantic sailing expedition. Maher (right) arrived in Iceland nearly two years ago from Syria as an asylum seeker after a challenging journey through Europe and surviving a fatal sinking of a boat of refugees headed for Greece. After living in a shelter for asylum seekers for nine months, Maher was given a positive answer to remain in Iceland. His wife Hiba and children arrivedto join him in January of 2016 after he was granted family reunification.
 Maher and Hiba prepares traditional Syrian dishes at home, often pickling their own vegetables and making bread and hummus from scratch.
 "Are we in paradise?", Maria (6) and Sarah (5) asked their mother when they first arrived from a refugee camp in Lebanon to join their father in Iceland on January 2016. Days later, a celebration of fireworks in Reykjavik terrified the children and reminded them of bombs in Syria.
 "Our daughters can be independent [here]" says Hiba, who keeps an eye on her girls from their apartment balcony in Reykjavik. Back in Syria, Hiba worried about the safety of her daughters crossing the street from the bus to their school, because of attacks throughout the city.
 Sisters Maria and Sarah have learned to relax, enjoy their new surroundings and make friends in school. Their greatest wish was to see their grandmother who had helped raise the girls in Syria. Their family managed to save enough after one year to bring their widowed grandmother to safety in Iceland.
 Maher works long hours and holds two jobs, delivering the newspaper in the morning before working at a textile factory, embroidering wool accessories popular with tourists in Reykjavik. Maher's home was bombed in Damascus, and his embroidery machine was the only item that survived the fallout. When Maher first arrived in Iceland as an asylum seeker, he was sheltered at a hostel near Keflavik International Airport. He recounts having trouble sleeping at night due to the frequent noise of planes flying over, which would trigger memories of falling bombs in Syria and revive fears of deportation.
 Maher and Hiba's family enjoy a shared dinner of local and Syrian flavors with a welcoming Icelandic family in Reykjavik. "We are an open house" says Linda Hreggvidsdottir and her husband Kjartan Rolf Arnason who befriended the Syrian family and supports other refugees and asylum seekers arriving to Iceland.
 Detail of chairs at a recreation room in Akranes. About forty to fifty men from dozens of different countries seeking asylum are housed in an isolated rural area, distant and difficult to reach from Reykjavik.
 Merlin (24) an asylum seeker temporarily housed in Akranes "wanted to get as far away from Honduras as possible" and arrived in Iceland in spring of 2016 after researching various countries open to refugees. He was forced to flee due to extortion back home when corrupt police threatened him at gun point to pay a cut of his earnings from his internet cafe business every month, causing him to lose over fifity percent of his family's annual income.
 Merlin (24) an asylum seeker temporarily housed in Akranes "wanted to get as far away from Honduras as possible" and arrived in Iceland after researching various countries open to refugees. Unlike Honduras, extreme winds with cold weather and the greater cost of living in Iceland will take some getting use to but he hopes to stay in Iceland and bring his wife and two young daughters here. Merlin tries to avoid spending time in his "depressing" room as much as possible by occupying himself with cooking, singing and listening to music in the recreation room, and attending "Open House" events held weekly at the Red Cross.
 Detail of DVDs with missing TV and DVD player from a recreation room in Akranes. About forty to fifty men from dozens of different countries seeking asylum are housed in an isolated rural area distant and difficult to reach from Reykjavik.
 Laundry hung to dry at a shelter for asylum seekers in Akranes, Iceland.
 Ihsan (29) in his room in a shelter for asylum seekers in Akranes. Waiting for over three months for a positive answer, Ihsan reasoned he had no choice but to flee Pakistan after the Taliban issued multiple threats on his life for assisting the international non-profit Doctors without Borders as a practicing Muslim. Boredom and anxiety face asylum seekers in limbo who are not permitted to work and particularly those who live in shelters isolated in rural areas, distant and difficult to reach from the capital, Reykjavik.
 Ihsan and three other asylum seekers from Iraq pass the time at the foosball table in the otherwise spare accomodations provided to them in rural Akranes, about 26 miles outside of Reykjavik.
 Asylum seekers from Iraq, Pakistan, and Nigeria cook and share an occasional meal together at an isolated shelter hosting forty to fifty men in Akranes.
 Asylum seekers on a lava field on Reykjanes Peninsula near Keflavik Airport. The three under-aged boys from the Middle East and Balkans formed a friendship, but only two were granted asylum to stay in Iceland.
 Reza, an asylum seeker from Iran was finally granted asylum in May 2016 after after living in limbo for eight years in Norway, followed by one and a half years in Iceland. Reza now volunteers much of his time to assisting and translating for incoming asylum seekers.
 Two Iranian asylum seekers who have been granted asylum explore the iconic Harpa concert hall located in the center of Reykjavik. Without family in Iceland, they have built a father and son like bond during their time in limbo and continue to care for each other's needs.
 Two Iranian refugees inside the iconic Harpa concert hall overlooking downtown Reykjavik. Without family in Iceland, they have built a father and son like bond during their time in limbo as asylum seekers and continue to care for each other's needs.
 A pastor for immigrants in Iceland ordered a Bible written in Farsi for Iranian Christian asylum seekers. The Bible is illegal according to the Islamic government of Iran, and keeping one is considered a crime.
 A weekly prayer meeting held at Hjallakirkja, a church in Kopavogur attracts a number of asylum seekers, often individuals fleeing religious persecution from Muslim countries.
 An asylum seeker from Iran is baptized at Hjallakirkja church. Often asylum seekers from Muslim countries turn to the Christian faith before arriving in Iceland, but some convert during their time in Iceland.
 Three asylum seekers from Iran at the baptismal font during a Sunday service at Hjallakirkja church were recently granted asylum. The men adopted new Christian names: Daniel, Benjamin, and Abraham.
 Three asylum seekers recently granted asylum from Iran at the baptismal font during a Sunday service at Hjallakirkja church. The men adopted new Christian names: Daniel, Benjamin, and Abraham.
 Toshiki Toma, a Lutheran pastor for immigrants in Iceland is a tireless advocate for asylum seekers, counseling and supporting their cases during their time in Iceland. Originally from Japan, Toma has been a citizen of Iceland for over twenty-four years and has baptized twenty-four asylum seekers since August 2015 due the recent increasing influx of asylum seekers arriving in Iceland. At least five asylum seekers out of the twenty-four had received a positive answer to stay in Iceland prior to their baptism.
 Toshiki Toma, a pastor for immigrants, takes the stage at a "No Borders" protest on May, 25, 2016 in front of the central police station in downtown Reykjavik where friend and asylum seeker Eze is jailed and was arrested suddenly hours earlier to be deported the next day. Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker had been living in Iceland for four years and has a strong show of community support in Iceland demonstrating to bring him back to Iceland.
 A crowd gathers in front of the Reykjavik police station for a "No Borders" initiated demonstration, protesting the detainment and deportation of Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker on May 25, 2016. "No Borders" Iceland, formed in 2012 is part of a loosely connected international network of groups and grass-root organisations which "aims to diminish racism and nationalism along with the discrimination and violence that stem from such ideas".
 Protesters gather in front of the Reykjavik police station for a "No Borders" initiated demonstration, protesting the detainment and deportation of Eze, a Nigerian asylum seeker on May 25, 2016.
 A Nigerian family fearing their deportation after receiving two negative responses to their application for asylum in Iceland took to protesting outside Iceland's Parliament building with no other means of recourse left. The posters read: "This family needs humanitarian help. Our children should not be victims of [kidnap] or Boko Haram… Please save the futures of [these] kids. Deportation is not the solution for the children… My son is in [school] here already and has a lot of friend and [adapted] to the society. Sending me and my family back to Africa is for my children [to witness] the death of their mother because I could not afford the necessary medications (for Salome's diabetes) in Africa. Please save a soul. Thanks." Two months later on July 20, 2016, Stephen, Salome and their two children were granted asylum after two years in Iceland.
 Salome, mother of two, has a serious case of diabetes in which she requires 3-4 injections everyday. After many appeals over the course of two years in Iceland, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.
 Salome with her one-year-old daughter Anna while her son attends preschool during the day across the street from their home. After many appeals over the course of two years in Iceland, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.
 One-year-old Anna and her family at a temporary home in Reykjanesbær, Iceland. After many appeals over the course of two years, her family was finally granted asylum on July 20, 2016.
 Fadila from Ghana gave birth to two children in Iceland since arriving as an asylum seeker in 2014. She was later joined by her husband from Togo. Hanif is two years old and Jonina is 2-months old. They were finally granted asylum in Iceland on June 20, 2017. 
 Sinam and Hassan, a former Peshmerga from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq chose to seek asylum in Iceland nearly three years ago in hopes of a better future for their children and because "it is far away and there are not many people." The family of six had received numerous negatives because they were finger-printed in Italy prior to their arrival in Iceland. Due to the support and efforts of their local Icelandic community, Sinam and her family were finally granted permission to remain in Iceland as of May 18th, 2017.
 Bedroom of Hassan and Sinam's twelve-year-old son who is enrolled in school and has made friends since the family's arrival in Iceland nearly three years ago.
 Daughters of Hassan and Sinam from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq enjoy learning Icelandic and going out with friends from school.   
 Sinam from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq feared deportation for three years since their arrival, as her family have adapted to life in Iceland. Her husband Hassan, a former Peshmerga from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq chose to seek asylum in Iceland nearly three years ago in hopes of a better future for their children and because "it is far away and there are not many people." The family of six had received numerous negatives because they were finger-printed in Italy prior to their arrival in Iceland. Due to the support and efforts of their local Icelandic community, Sinam and her family were finally granted permission to remain in Iceland as of May 18th, 2017.
 Icelanders lead the parade on the eighth annual "Multicultural Day" celebration in Reykjavik on May 28, 2016.
 Immigrant residents representing their country of origin participate in a parade on the eighth annual "Multicultural Day" festival and celebration in Reykjavik on May 28, 2016.
 Asylum seekers and refugees play a game of pick up football with local Icelanders in Reykjavik.