This little island nation dangling from the Arctic Circle, with its geothermal landscape, seems ready and able to amaze us. Fascinating, beautiful, otherworldly, and often eccentric, life in Iceland can also be quite different and our list will show you what you can expect.
No Last Names in Iceland
There are some exceptions to this, but in general, Icelanders don’t have surnames or family names. Most Icelanders have a patronymic last name, which means it's their father's first name with the suffix for daughter or son attached.
Women also don't change their names when they get married. But all this doesn't matter too much as everyone is always called by their first name, from teachers to doctors and even politicians!
On the beaches of Reynisfjara, you'll spot the striking black sand that blankets the shoreline and lays side by side with unusually geometric basalt cliffs.
This unearthly-looking beach is located in Vík, the country’s southernmost village.
Iceland takes baby names very seriously and as such, they have very strict rules that dictate all names must conform to the Icelandic language and come from the official register of approved names.
If parents want to choose a different name for their newborn, they first have to request permission from the official "Naming Committee."
Polar Stratospheric Clouds
The Polar Stratospheric Clouds are a mesmerizing attraction in Iceland. These rare clouds mainly occur at high latitudes when temperatures are low enough during winter, and their appearance casts an iridescent pastel hue across the sky.
These clouds are so rare that witnessing them can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Here’s another pleasantly surprising fact from the uncanny valley of Iceland. This one is a real plus for Iceland’s tourism — a lot of Icelandic women are business owners.
When it comes to gender equality, Iceland fares way better than most, with an overflow of inspiring success stories. Women are supported by a progressive-right movement that underpinned Iceland's standing as the best country for gender equality nine years in a row.
Iceland is truly a special place on the planet with a steady population of 360,000, and not one single McDonald's. That's right, the last McDonald's closed in 2009 and a new one hasn't opened since. It's not that Icelanders don’t like fast food, as they dine out quite often.
But despite that, McDonald’s just couldn't figure out how to survive among the volcanoes, hot springs, and fjords of Iceland.
Iceland Has Europe's Largest Banana Plantation
Not to get too technical, but Spain's plantations in the Canary Islands grow more bananas but they aren't located in Europe, which means that Iceland comes in first.
With their use of geothermal energy, the Icelandic Agricultural University can grow up to 4,500 pounds of bananas every year.
There's an App to Check Your Relatives
On this little island nation that's sparsely populated with under half a million inhabitants, it's understandable that it can be difficult to date a person that you're not related to.
That's why an app was created by a group of college students, that lets people screen out potential dates before they find out if they're second cousins. The app is called ÍslendingaApp, or "Book of Icelanders," which provides info on Icelandic genealogy.
There's an Elf School
In the thoroughly modern city of Reykjavík, there's a quirky Elf school that offers lectures and guided tours on Icelandic mythology and folklore.
According to tradition, there are 13 different kinds of elves and over 60% of Icelanders believe they're real!
Buying Books Is a Christmas Tradition
In Iceland, there's a tradition called Jólabókaflóð, which means "Christmas book flood" in which everyone receives a book for Christmas.
And that's not Iceland's only literary fact! Being a country full of bookworms, Iceland boasts one of the highest rates of books per capita.
Babies Sleep Outside
In most Scandinavian countries, babies are wheeled outside to take a nap outdoors and Iceland is no exception.
Parents believe that the fresh air helps to ward away illness, with some sleep experts maintaining that the cold air can induce a deeper slumber.
Back in 2010, an Icelandic comedian by the name of Jón Gnarr founded the 'Best Party' with a number of other people who had absolutely zero background in politics.
Obviously, his campaign to run for mayor was a joke. But to his surprise, he actually won! He ended up serving for four years from 2010 to 2014.
"Closing time" can vary a lot depending on where you are in the world, but in Iceland, stores close very early and open rather late as well.
Most stores close their doors around 5 pm, and only open the next day around 9 am! Anything open beyond those hours will charge you a pretty penny.
Marriage in Iceland
It should go without saying that Iceland is not nearly as traditional when it comes to customs and conventions. Getting hitched is not as popular in Iceland as it is in other countries.
With more than half of babies in Iceland being born to unwed parents, it's just not a big deal in this Arctic state. In the US, 32% of babies are born to unwed parents.
Iceland is a land of staggering beauty; with ancient bejeweled rivers that originate from the country's most famous longtime residents; glaciers.
This intricately flowing Glacier river travels all the way to Thórsmork, Highlands. It’s almost as if Mother Nature tried to bring the starry night sky a little closer to home.
The World's First Female President
Iceland's fourth President and first democratically elected female President was Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. She was the world's first female president!
This happened during the 1980 presidential campaign when she ran against three male candidates and won 33.6% of the votes. She was very popular and after four years in office, she was elected again and again in 1988 with 94.6% of the votes!
Iceland's Postal Service Goes Above and Beyond
Because of Iceland's striking landscape and sparse population, the Postal service really has its work cut out for them.
As we can imagine, they must get mail like this all the time, with a hand-drawn map.
Most Icelanders Work Two or Three Jobs
During the frigid cold winters, many Icelanders work more jobs and it's not for the reasons you would think.
With long, dark, and wintery days, they sometimes have only four hours of sunlight which means they could easily get seasonal depression, so they try to keep themselves busy by working more jobs.
You Won't Find Any Mosquitoes in Iceland
Despite there being over 1,300 types of insects in Iceland, there's not one mosquito. This is due to the low temperatures which can't accommodate a mosquito's lifecycle.
Now that might sound wonderful, but they have to deal with other insects, like midges, which are similar to mosquitos and they also bite.
Iceland Has 130 Volcanoes
Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the island of Iceland sits right on the tectonic plates that separate Eurasia and North America. Since these plates are in constant motion, the spaces fill up with magma causing volcanoes to erupt.
This means that out of 130 volcanoes currently in Iceland, 30 are active. Yikes!
Iceland's Brimming With Rainbows
What better way to celebrate their diversity than painting this cool rainbow brick road in the eastern town of Seyðisfjörður? This seemingly small town has been hosting its own festival since 2014.
Along with that, Reykjavik also celebrates Reykjavik Pride by painting a different street each year in rainbow colors.
Viking Sword Road
When we think of Scandinavia, we often conjure up images of the Vikings, who first settled in Iceland in the 9th century.
In honor of their sword-wielding Nordic descendants, they created this "Sword Road." Set on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, north of Reykjavik, it leads to many popular sights.
Icelandic Winter Hack
Many people don't know that Iceland uses geothermal heating to heat not only their homes but also car parks and sidewalks to keep them snow-free. Now that's genius!
That means there's no need for Icelanders to thoroughly shovel snow anymore. The best thing about this is, it's all done with natural resources!
Alerts for Northern Lights
Of course, we all know about the magnificent display of Northern Lights in Iceland, but did you know that hotel establishments offer a service where hotel staff wakes their guests up if the Northern Lights make an appearance?
Well, they do! This is the perfect solution for anyone who travels to this part of the world and wants to enjoy both the lights and a good night's sleep.
Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Of course, we weren’t going to have a list about Iceland without including the giant, geothermal hot springs!
Just outside of Reykjavik there lies the Blue Lagoon Spa, which is most famous for its soft white silica mud and steaming mineral-rich water, both of which have healing effects on the skin.
You Are Here at Your Own Risk
If ever a warning sign could be called a party pooper, it would be this one. Found at the site of the first geyser ever recorded in a printed source, this geyser hot spring in southwestern Iceland is the country's most visited geyser as well as the first known to modern Europeans.
It's also home to boiling mud pits, exploding water spouts, and erupting hot geysers, of course.
Red Heart Traffic Lights
After the economic crash in 2008, Iceland's citizens were devastated and the town of Akureyri decided to lift everyone's spirits by adding heart fixtures to the traffic lights.
Now, this symbol has become a reminder to stay positive. This unexpected display of love really is the only piece of investigative journalism you need today.
After a series of volcanic eruptions, there was an array of significant damage to the Westman Islands but all that molten lava forged this basalt rock shaped like an elephant's head on the surface of the area.
Because of its particularly defined structure, it's become quite a unique landmark.
'Ice-Cream Road Trip'
No matter the temperature, Icelanders can never get enough ice cream. As a matter of fact, they enjoy their ice cream so much that they have a word for eating it while driving in a car.
It's called ísbíltúr and translates to 'ice cream car trip' and never mind the icy blizzard outside, they'd still enjoy their ice cream.
The Sheep Population of Iceland
If you are anything like us, you like nothing more than fascinating facts. So, here's another — the sheep population in Iceland doubles the human population in Iceland.
To be honest, that makes sense. With temperatures that low, Icelanders are going to need all the sweaters they can get their hands on, and what better way to do it than keeping all those sheep around?
Wishing Wells Are Not Tolerated
We all know what wishing wells are and that throwing coins in them can supposedly bring you good luck.
But Icelanders have no time to indulge in your fairy tale, only in serious folklore like elves and fairies. They even put signs up like this as a warning to visitors.
Iceland’s Only Native Land Mammal
Iceland's only native land mammal is the Arctic Fox. This bad boy is also known as a Snow Fox, White Fox, or Polar Fox, and its fur changes color along with the seasons.
So they're not always white, depending on the time of year, they could be different shades of bluish-gray or brown.
Iceland Has a Pledge for Tourists
Iceland clearly gets a lot of tourists. And we mean a lot. Just over 2 million tourists a year!
So when they come, there are certain rules they need to follow. This pledge is there to help tourists manage their expectations as well as keep them in check.
Between Two Continents
Believe it or not, Iceland is the only place in the entire world where you can swim between two tectonic plates, with some of the openings so narrow that you can touch both sides at once — which means you're touching two continents at once!
This is a crack between continents formed because of the tectonic plates pulling apart. Not only that, but it’s also where you’ll find some of the cleanest water in the world.
Iceland's Female Workers on Road Work Signs
Iceland is setting trends when it comes to challenging preconceived ideas about gender stereotypes. Take this sign that has a woman working on the road for example.
It might just be a sign but this small gesture demonstrates just how dedicated Iceland is to equality.
There Isn't a Public Railway System
Despite being so progressive, Iceland doesn't have a public railway system, while they do have a railway meant exclusively for the transportation of produce and goods, it's not meant for the public.
Apparently, Iceland's population is too sparse and the weather conditions are too harsh to accommodate a smooth and functioning railway system for the public.
Dogs Were Banned in Reykjavik
From 1924 to 1984, dogs were banned in Iceland's capital of Reykjavik and it was not because they didn't like dogs. Back then there was a nasty tapeworm going around and it was discovered that dogs were also carriers.
This tapeworm was especially dangerous as it caused intestinal infections and sometimes even death. Ever since the ban was lifted, residents of Reykjavik had to apply for permits to have a dog.
The Old Norse Tradition Where Trees Are Planted on Graves
Evidence of Iceland's fascinating folklore shows up in the unlikeliest of places. Like this tree-filled cemetery in Reykjavik, called Hólavallagarður cemetery.
According to the local legend, this graveyard was originally a Viking burial ground. It’s been said that these trees were planted on graves as an old Norse tradition and now visitors can touch the trees as a way to connect with their loved ones who have passed.
The World's Most Northern Capital
The country's capital, Reykjavik is the world's northernmost capital! But that's not all, Iceland has another city that's located even further north.
The place is called Siglufjörður and it has a population of 1,300 people.
The Longest-Running Parliament
Althingi is the national parliament in Iceland and it's also the longest-running parliament in the world. First founded in 930, the first assembly was attended by all free men.
The Althingi continued existing in some form, even when Icelanders submitted to the authority of the Norwegian king in the 13th century and thereafter to the Danish monarchy till the end of the 14th century. It was disbanded only in 1800 by royal command. This parliamentary building was re-established in Reykjavík and assembled again in 1845.
The Colors of Iceland's Flag
A blue flag with a red cross inside a white cross, the Icelandic flag was adopted in 1918 and represents its independence from ruling Denmark. The colors in the Icelandic flag reflect the three elements which make up the little island's landscape.
Red represents the fire from the volcanoes, white symbolizes the ice and snow, and blue is for the mountains of the island when looked at from the coast.
Iceland's Favorite Food
As one of Iceland's favorite foods, Hot dogs were definitely not what we expected. Famous people like Bill Clinton and Kim Kardashian have visited the stand and got a taste of the famous hot dogs. These hot dogs are special because Icelanders use lamb meat instead of pork or beef.
They make their own ketchup with apples as an ingredient. You can have a hot dog with sweet mustard, along with raw or crispy onions and ketchup, with apples of course!
Iceland experiences up to 21 hours of daylight during the summer, which means you will literally never be in the dark, and may well find yourself at an outdoor bar in broad daylight, look at your watch, and realize it’s 11:30 pm.
In other words, it's really easy to lose track of time and you find yourself up all night if you don't remember to check your watch.
While most countries would have their most famous and notable people featured on their coins, Iceland decided to go a different route and paid tribute to its marine wildlife.
As we can see in the photo, there are beautiful imprints of fish and shellfish on their coins.
Oldest Church in Iceland
This 17th-century Grafarkirkja Church is the oldest church in Iceland, and it also has a turf wall growing from the ground, all over the roof, and down the other side.
Apparently, only 5 other turf churches like this remained in Iceland. Turf architecture like this originates in building techniques dating back to the Iron Age, with the Romans using "turf bricks" to build forts and citadels.
You Wouldn't Guess How Long...
With such a small country, we can imagine that getting around must be quite easy and take up very little of your time. Basically, Iceland fits easily within the state borders of Colorado or Ohio.
But most of its landmass is tundra, which means it's a vast, treeless Arctic terrain. If you were to drive all around Iceland, it would only take you 17 hours.
Thanks to a family-tree app, Icelanders have a thoroughly detailed database of each generation. This was made possible by collecting surveys throughout the country and recording all their genealogy.
Now, Icelanders can easily trace their family back hundreds of years with a quick check of the internet. Most of them discovered they are descended from a small clan of Celtic and Viking settlers.
Iceland has a very strict protocol when it comes to horses. Seeing as Icelandic horses and among the world's purest bred, if they ever leave, they are not allowed to return.
This may seem harsh but their horses have remained isolated for 1,000 years and Icelanders don't want to change that anytime soon.
Europe’s Largest Glacier
This tremendous force of nature is called the Vatnajökull (“Water Glacier”) and it is the largest glacier in Europe. While this photo isn't the whole thing, it's taken inside only one of its caves.
It covers approximately 8% of the country’s total landmass, with ravines, mountain tops, and even dormant volcanoes beneath its dense layer of ice.
Iceland Doesn't Have an Army
Instead of relying on its own armed forces, Iceland depends on the defense capabilities of NATO. Iceland does, however, have a coast guard which has previously seen conflict during ‘The Cod Wars’ with the UK.
Iceland emerged as the winner in this dispute over fishing rights, and ever since then, no one has dared challenge this fearsome Viking nation.
The Icelandic Language
The language of Iceland is basically a North Germanic language that's relatively unchanged from Old Norse and now it's called Icelandic. It has been spoken in Iceland for over a thousand years.
Obviously, they have had to come up with new words for new inventions, like the computer, which is called a 'tolva' and actually translates into 'Numbers Witch.'
Iceland's Featured Locations
As we would expect, Iceland's spectacular landscape is a popular shooting location for major TV and movie productions.
From "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" to "Game of Thrones," with so many epic locations, you'd probably be able to recognize the backdrop of some of your favorite movies and shows. Other honorable mentions include, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", "Prometheus" and "Batman Begins."
The tallest bird cliffs in all of Europe are located in Iceland. These towering rock faces of Látrabjarg are situated at the distant point of the Westfjords region.
This western point is where many bird species can be spotted, including the Arctic Skua, Razorbills, Atlantic Puffins, and Guillemots.
Iceland's Sustainable Energy
With almost all of Iceland's electricity production coming from renewable sources, like hydropower and geothermal power, is it any wonder that Iceland is considered a leading force in sustainable energy?
And because of their incredible approach, electricity prices are low. So low, in fact, it's nearly free.
Most of the Population Lives in Reykjavik
Even though it's very small, Reykjavik is home to 60% of Iceland's population. So that means more than half of Iceland's population is concentrated in one city!
Reykjavík is famous for its colorful buildings and thriving nightlife scene but it also houses the National and Saga museums, which trace Iceland’s Viking history.
The Last Frontier
Did you know that Iceland is the last place on earth to be settled by humans? This all happened over 1,100 years ago when Norse people from the Norwegian Viking age discovered Iceland by accident.
There are some records that state Iceland had been inhabited by Irish monks before the Vikings arrived but they soon gave up on the rough and isolated terrain and left.
Icelanders and Their Books
Being a nation of book and magazine lovers it's quite clear that Iceland has a strong focus on literature. With a strong tradition of reading dating back to the 13th century, Iceland can also boast about the number of published authors it has.
One out of every ten people in Iceland publishes a book in their lifetime, which means Iceland produces more writers per capita than anywhere in the world
Iceland’s National Sport
While Icelanders love many kinds of sports, from football to volleyball, they most revere handball. Being the national sport of Iceland, handball is a game played between two teams with the objective to score by driving the ball into the opposing net.
In 2008, Iceland's national team took home a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics.
100 Words for Wind
With a language notoriously difficult to grasp, locals also speak English quite well, which makes it easy for tourists to get around. One interesting fact about Icelandic is that it holds 100 words for wind, which makes sense.
It's also very similar to Old Norse which means many Icelanders are able to read ancient texts written in it.
Iceland Has 13 Santas
With most of the Western world waiting in anticipation for their presents on Christmas, Icelanders expect 13 Yule Lads to visit them instead of Santa Claus.
Each rugged-looking Santa visits once, starting 13 days before Christmas as children in Iceland excitedly wait for their small gift.
Pure, Clean Water
The water in Iceland is so pure, you can forget about buying bottled water that's already been filtered. Instead, you can drink straight from the purest and most refreshing water in its streams, lakes, and rivers.
All you need is your own bottle to dip into the water source and collect some deliciously fresh drinking water.
Interesting Origin of Word
For those interested in the origin of words, they would be delighted to learn that the English word "geyser" actually comes from the name of the great geyser, which is called Geysir in Haukadalur.
This erupting water source is located in the south of Iceland and was the first geyser ever recorded in a printed source.
The Only War
The 'Cod War', which is mentioned in another slide, was the only war waged in Iceland, and it can barely be called war. It began as a dispute between the UK and Iceland over fishing grounds in the 60s and 70s.
It's worth mentioning that besides these confrontations, Iceland has never participated in anyone else's war or been involved with an invasion of any kind.
So Many Swimming Pools
Despite the weather, Icelanders love swimming, and accordingly, it has the highest swimming pool-to-human ratio in the world, so you needn’t fret about being bothered by other swimmers.
In fact, swimmers are more likely to find themselves taking a dip completely alone in one of their many pools, lagoons, or hot springs.
No Pet Reptiles
While Icelanders can own a pet dog or cat, it’s illegal to own a pet reptile, even though they exist in Iceland.
Pet snakes, turtles, and lizards were banned in the early 90s after it was found that someone was infected with salmonella which they contracted from their pet turtle.
Iceland Was Once Covered in Trees
One of the few things about Iceland that’s not exactly ideal is this interesting fact: before the Vikings plundered Iceland, 40% of the entire island was covered in trees.
However, the new inhabitants needed all those trees to build homes, and boats, and to clear land for agriculture. Now, that amount is only 2%, with reforestation efforts underway.
The Smallest Nation in the World Cup
This fact is a little more recent, plus, it could be one that you might know already: Iceland is the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup.
Many of the players actually have regular day jobs, from a filmmaker to a dentist! Despite being such a small country, Iceland's team is actually pretty good.
The Midnight Sun
During the summer, an annual event happens called the ‘midnight sun.’ For a few days, the sun can be seen at midnight, and this invites many golfers from all around the world to grab their clubs and make for the course.
This group of golfers was playing at midnight in The Arctic Open at the Akureyri Golf Club in Iceland.
A Little Town Called Húsavík
The town of Húsavík along the North-Eastern coast has long been known as the ‘whale watching capital of Europe’. One could also visit the Whale Museum at Húsavík, which is a non-profit that forms the educational component of the whale-watching trips.
This little town was also featured in the Netflix movie “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” starring Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell.
The first known Viking to reach Iceland in the ninth century was named Naddodur. He was actually swept off course and dragged westwards from the Faroes when he discovered a large country with no sign of civilization.
According to legend, he was surprised by the snow in September and decided to name the island 'Snowland.'
Someone Tried Selling the Northern Lights
Icelandic poet and lawyer Einar Benediktsson, born in 1864, was editor of Iceland’s first daily newspaper and tried to sell the northern lights.
Benediktsson believed foreign investment could better utilize Iceland's natural resources, so he spent years touring Europe to try to find a buyer and hopefully raise some capital for Iceland.
The Police Service in Iceland
Icelandic Police don’t carry any weapons or firearms. Being responsible for law enforcement throughout the country, the Police have found that they don't need to use weapons like firearms or tasers to carry out their duties.
With crime in Iceland being so low and violent crime is mostly nonexistent, Iceland is considered one of the safest countries in the world.
Seeing as Icelanders don't have hereditary last names, and the whole culture is on a first-name basis, telephone directories in Iceland list their residents by their first name alphabetically, with no mention of last names. As they don't have them.
Iceland's telephone directories are called the 'white pages phonebook,' and yes, it's a very small book.
Coca-Cola in Iceland
Even though Iceland is touted as being one of the healthiest countries in Europe, it's officially the world's most thirsty consumer for Coca-Cola. Icelanders knock back 417 bottles a year per capita.
That's higher than any other country at about eight a week each! To put that in perspective, Americans on average drink about three colas a week.
Traditional Icelandic Food
Many of Iceland’s traditional foods have been regarded as strange and bizarre by most people's standards. In part, due to the popular foods that originate from the Viking age.
Fermented shark, or Hákarl, as Icelanders refer to it, is considered a delicacy in Iceland. Fresh shark meat is actually poisonous so to combat this, it is buried in a shallow sandpit under heavy rocks and left to ferment for several weeks.
Mild Summer Temperatures
When we picture Iceland, we might imagine freezing winds and heavy snowstorms, but that's not the case in summer.
Iceland's average high temperature in the summertime is only 57 degrees Fahrenheit, with the overnight average summer low being 43 degrees Fahrenheit, so it never gets too cold, either.
Iceland is bursting with rugged and demanding landscapes, with many of them being off-road, remote, and hard to reach, which is why locals use 'super jeeps.'
These modified trucks often have an elevated suspension along with massive tires to drive through snow, ice, and across deep flowing rivers.
Most of Iceland Is Uninhabited
If you're looking to get away from all the crowds and get a little more in touch with nature, Iceland will be great for you! Due to Iceland’s unique topography, only 20 percent of it is actually inhabited by humans.
Many of the remote, uninhabited areas can be visited, but we recommend checking with experts first. You wouldn't want to get lost in the middle of a foreign country with no cellphone service available.
Icelandic rye bread is often cooked underground in hot volcanic sands. Sometimes, it's called “lava bread” or “volcanic bread”.
The idea of using the ground as an oven spans many cultures and generations. With Iceland's geothermal activity being so prevalent, it’s clear that they would use the ground for cooking.
So How Safe Is Iceland Really?
We've already mentioned this about Iceland, but exactly how safe is the land of fire and ice in terms of crime?
The year 2017 proved to be the most dangerous year by far in Iceland, the country was completely rocked by an unprecedented number of four murders in total. The number? Four. Yup. In a typical year, there’s an average of 1.6 murders and a very low instance of other violent crimes.
Iceland Had a Peaceful Revolution
It wasn’t reported on much in the international press, but Iceland had quite a (peaceful) revolution back in 2008. This happened when the country’s banking system collapsed, unemployment skyrocketed, and citizens were worried supermarkets would run out of food.
Iceland’s people took to the streets peacefully protesting and blocking all traffic around the capital. Eventually, the Prime Minister and former government were forced to resign, and the people wrote themselves a new constitution.
Icelanders Swim in the Winter
We would think that during the cold winter months, Icelanders would forgo swimming but that's not the case at all. One thing that’s really useful about having geothermal, volcanically-heated water is that you can go swimming no matter how cold it is outside.
There are countless hot springs and many Icelanders love to go for a dip in the heated pools that can maintain a temperature of at least 86 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.
Iceland Once Hunted Male Witches
Iceland may seem idyllic in many ways, but the country still has a dark history. Just like the U.S. and many parts of Europe, Iceland went through a period of rampant witch hunts from 1654 to 1690.
But in contrast to other countries, only one woman was prosecuted as a witch during this time though because men were the primary targets. Way to go with balancing worldwide misogyny! (We think...)
Icelandic Students Learn Three Languages
Icelanders are known to speak a few different languages and many tourists have mentioned how well they can speak English. This is due to the fact that Icelandic students are taught their native language, along with English and Danish.
It’s estimated that at least 80 percent of young students can understand basic English, and some people claim that as many as 98 percent of adults are fluent in multiple languages.
Iceland was one of the first counties to trial a 4-day week. From 2015 to 2019, they ran the world’s largest trial, with results showing that employees were happier, healthier, and more productive. (Honestly, it makes you wonder why they stopped the trial at all.)
These trials took place in various different workplace environments, including hospitals, preschools, offices, and social services. A three-day weekend every weekend? Where do we sign up?
Just like the United States, Iceland also had an unsuccessful spell of prohibition. But unlike the United States, Iceland commemorates the end of prohibition with a national beer-themed celebration! Back in 1908, Iceland voted on an alcohol ban which lasted until 1989. That's 80 years with no booze!
Beer Day, taking place on March 1st is an unofficial national holiday marking the occasion. Now, beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Iceland.
The music of Iceland includes spirited folk, with some songs still sung today dating from the 14th century. But that's not all of it! Iceland also has a vibrant modern music scene.
Although Iceland has a very small population, it is home to many famous and praised bands and musicians. One who is usually credited with drawing global attention to Iceland's music is Björk, but you probably know some other names such as Kaleo, Sigur Rós, and Of Monsters and Men.
The Icelandic Calendar
Nowadays, the Gregorian calendar uniforms most modern countries in terms of dates and time. However, different cultures are known to historically have their own year-management systems, and Iceland is no different. Back in the Viking Age, Icelanders had a different month system based on weather and crops.
The Medieval Icelandic calendar was divided into two seasons, summer and winter. The winter months are Gormánuður, Ýlir, Mörsugur, Þorri, Goa, and Einmánuður. The summer months are Harpa, Skerpla, Sólmánuður, and Heyannir.
Iceland's Colonies in Greenland
Vikings are known to have a large portion of their culture centering around sailing. This means they often went on long expeditions, discovering new places and establishing new colonies in those places. Icelanders discovered Greenland (the natives notwithstanding) back in 986 and decided to settle there.
These Icelandic settlements vanished during the 14th and early 15th centuries. Archaeologists have since discovered that the Norse colonies died out as a result of starvation, and the Black Death.
What language is your Duolingo owl guilting you into learning? If it's Icelandic, we are both impressed with your ambition and sorry for you. We looked and found that the longest word found in Icelandic is vaðlaheiðarvegavinnuverkfærageymsluskúraútidyralyklakippuhringur. Now that's a mouthful!
It should come as no surprise that Icelandic has been consistently ranked as one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn as a result of the archaic vocabulary and complex grammar.
With much of its terrain consisting of plateaux, mountain peaks, and fertile lowlands, it makes sense that the country’s only international airport sits in the middle of a lava field. This fact easily puts it up high on the list of coolest airports in the world.
If you're planning to visit Iceland then you have no choice but to travel to this airport as the other airports are only meant for domestic flights.
Healthcare in Iceland
Iceland has a top-notch universal healthcare system, which is paid for with the citizens' taxes. There is almost no private health insurance in Iceland and no private hospitals. And honestly, with the country's statistics, why would there be?
According to a study in The Lancet, the Icelandic healthcare system has the world's second-best healthcare access and quality, a composite measure collected as a part of the Global Burden of Disease Study.
Freedom of Religion
Icelanders have always been very open-minded in terms of religion. Many Icelanders believe in fairies and elves, while a large part of the population still remains members of the Church of Iceland, with the Lutheran Church being the state church of Iceland.
Since the end of the 19th century, Iceland has been more open to new religious ideas than many other European countries. Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Icelandic constitution since 1874.
A Country of Cinephiles
Icelanders watch more movies than any other nation, which is not all that surprising when there are only between 2-4 hours of daylight in winter and it's a freezing blizzard outside! You just have to find something nice you can pass time with while staying indoors or you'll go mad.
Their love for the cinematic arts extends beyond their living room though, as the country also has the highest rate of cinema attendance per capita in the world.
Iceland's Tallest Mountain
Hvannadalshnjúkur is the tallest mountain in Iceland. With its highest peak reaching a height of 2,110 meters, it’s found in Vatnajökull National Park and is essentially the highest point in the country. The mountain is covered in ice throughout the year.
The mountain can be seen from many parts of the country. It forms part of the crater around Öræfajökull, which conceals a particularly violent volcano. It had a massive eruption in 1362.
Iceland's Last Major Eruption
Eyjafjallaökull erupted for the first time since 1821 on the 21st of March 2010, an eruption that was destructive in more ways than one. First, and most critical, was the local population — over 600 people had to flee and abandon their homes.
Next, there were the ash clouds — they created major disruption to air travel in Europe. And finally, the complicated name of the volcano had many journalists and news reporters tongue-tied!
Iceland's Boxing Ban
Professional boxing has been banned in Iceland since 1956. The country managed to crown a champion before it happened, though. A few years before a Nordic fighter named Ingemar Johansson became the region's only heavyweight champion.
It wasn't until 2002 that amateur boxing was legalized, a concession that came after a 13-year battle, according to a 2015 article in Icelandic Review. Eventually, people will find legal ways to punch each other.
Iceland’s many glaciers and spectacular geography combine to create some of the most attractive and bizarre waterfalls on the planet. Dettifoss waterfall on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river is reputed to be the second most powerful waterfall in Europe after the Rhine Falls.
Measuring 144 ft or 45 meters high and 100 meters wide, it's a true sight to see. Every year huge crowds gather at Dettifoss which forms one of the sites which make up the famous Diamond Circle of North Iceland.
Agriculture in Iceland
Only 1% of land in Iceland is considered arable, which means it's suitable for growing crops. Not very surprising when you take the harsh weather conditions of the place. However, despite the cool climate and restricted growing season, a variety of food crops are grown, such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower.
Other subtropical crops (such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers), cut flowers, and potted plants are grown in greenhouses heated with geothermal energy.