Fun Iceland facts

Since you are here, you are probably thinking about travelling to Iceland, or maybe you have already made some arrangements. Here are a few Iceland facts you may not have discovered about us in your research and might be fun for you to know:

  • Did you know, that Iceland was first settled sometime in the 800s by Vikings from theother Nordic countries? So it is not only a young country in the geological sense (which is “only” about 16-18 million years old by the way)
  • The settlers brought in all the mammals you can find in Iceland, except for the arctic fox. The fox is the only mammal which arrived here on its own! (even humans didn’t plan on it, because they were actually looking for Greenland and got lost…true story!)
  • The settlers did more…they ruined all natural forests in Iceland, because it was apparently fully covered in shrubbery around the time of settlement. Now there are mostly man made forests and reforestation projects, most of which are quite small.
  • Did you know that there is a common saying; “If you get lost in an Icelandic forest, stand up” (Icelanders are also very well known for their brilliant sense of humor!)
  • Did you know that Iceland is only a short flight away from most countries in Europe and North America?
    • On average 3-5 hours from Europe
    • On average 5-7 hours from North America
  • Iceland has one of the oldest parliaments in the world; Althingi – established in 930 AD and still operating in more or less the same form
  • Even though most of Iceland is geographically located in America, it is a part of Europe and part of the GMT time zone
  • Did you know that Iceland is quite small, both in size and in population?
    • Population: about 330.000
      • However, it has about 4.000.000 puffins, 460.000 sheep and about 80.000 horses!
    • Size: 103.000 km2 / 39.756 mi2
      • The ring road is 1332 km / 828 mi long and you can technically drive the whole ring rode in one day… but that’s no fun!
      • Glaciers cover over 11% of the whole country!!
        Vatnajökull glacier covers 8% of the country – making it 8.240 km2 / 3.180 mi2 in size.
        It is also over 1 km / 0,6 mi thick at it’s thickest!
        And it’s highest peak is Hvannadalshnúkur; 2.100 m / 6.920 ft high – also the highest peak in Iceland.

Cute little puffin! They are actually quite small…

  • Icelanders may be one of the fattest nations in the world, but the average life expectancy is 84 years!
  • But we are a dying breed, as birth rate is only around 1,9 children per female on average…visit us now before we go extinct!!
  • Did you know that Icelanders mostly don’t hold typical surnames, as you would know them?
    • We are our parents’ sons (-son)and daughters (-dóttir). This means that our president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is the son of Grímur and famous singer Björk Guðmundsdóttir is the daughter of Guðmundur. See how it works?
  • Icelanders have some strange habits and customs
    • We have the strangest eating habits – and I am not talking about fermented shark or dried fish her. I am talking about going out for ice cream and firing up the BBQ no matter the weather! Act like a local, and visit Valdís during your stay here – even though the wind is howling and the skies are crying!
    • We also leave our babies outside to sleep, cozily nestled in their prams
  • Did you know that Icelandic is the official language of Iceland? And did you  know that more people in the world speak Klingon  than Icelandic? (yes, I went there…love to all the other Star Trek nerds out there!!)
    • However (almost) everybody in Iceland speaks and understands English very well! We owe that to all the movies and TV shows we do not subtitle and the amazing music our own people produce! So don’t be shy to visit us, even if you don’t speak any Icelandic (or Klingon) – we understand
    • Icelandic is a very well preserved language, because for the longest time the nation was isolated and alone in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. It is very closely related to Danish, Swedish and Norwegian
  • Did you know that literacy is very high in Iceland and has been so for hundreds of years?
    • The first bible was printed in Iceland in the early 1500s, leading to most of the nation learning how to read, even way back then! This preserved the language even more, which allows us to read the original texts of the Guðbrands bible and the Sagas, without much trouble even today.
  • Did you know that in the summer time we have up to 22 hours of daylight hours (June), but in the winter it can go down to as little as 4 hours (December and January)?
    • This enables us to have endless midnight sun during summer months, and witness the magical northern lights at winter! Mystical northern lights
  • Biggest and best in Europe? Of course!
    • Dettifoss waterfall is the most powerful waterfall in Europe – 44 m / 144 ft with an average flow rate of 193m3/s / 6.800 ft3/s
    • Látrabjarg is the largest bird cliff in Europe – 14 km / 8,6 mi wide and 440 m / 1443 ft tall; home to millions of birds including puffins, northern gannets, guillemots and razorbills
    • Home of the original geyser – because the word is derived from our very own Geysir hot spring
  • We have the most and best everything per capita
    • So many UNESCO stamps – oh so many! (okay, only 6 – but that’s amazing!!)
    • Biggest consumer of coca cola (yay!) – and energy resources, like electricity… (not so yay…)
    • Most Nobel Award winners – in fact it is only 1; Halldór Kiljan Laxnes
    • Most musicians and authors and artists – in fact, everybody seems to be an artist in their own right!
    • …we could go on for days…

If those aren’t reasons enough to come to Iceland and witness our greatness in person, we would be happy to tell you more! Drop us a line with questions on Facebook or e-mail us your concerns… we can dumbfound you with facts!

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