40 Little Known Facts About Iceland
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40 Little Known Facts About Iceland

Facts that may just shock you about this tiny country.

40 Little Known Facts About Iceland

Over the last few years Iceland has become an extremely popular vacation spot. With tourism booming, more and more people are packing their bags and taking off to Iceland based on stories they've heard of the country's beauty and many tourist spots. But with millions of tourists traveling through the country each year not too many of them really know very much about the country itself. So without further ado, here are some facts about the tiny country of Iceland that just might surprise you.

1.There are no surnames. Instead, names are comprised of their father’s (or as is becoming more popular in modern times monther’s) names, and either -son or -dóttir attached.

2.In order to preserve the Icelandic language, all names not previously accepted by the country must go before the Icelandic Naming Committee which has the power to reject the use of the name for a child.

3.On a similar note, telephone directories list people by their first name in alphabetical order.

4.The population of Iceland is a little over 300,000 people. That’s less than the city of Boston for the ENTIRE country! And of those 300,000 people, over 100,000 reside in the capital of Reykjavík.

5.Iceland is the most sparsely populated nation in Europe with less than three inhabitants per square kilometer.

6.To put into perspective the size of this country, it’s about 39,000 square miles or about the size of Ohio.

7.Iceland had the first democratically elected female as well as openly gay prime ministers. It was also one of the first countries in the world to legalize same sex marriage.

8.Iceland was one of the last places on earth to be settled by humans.

9.The Icelandic language comes from old Norse and remains relatively unchanged since its inception.

10.Iceland doesn’t have a navy, army, or air force.

11.There’s no mosquitos there.

12.Iceland ranks first in the world for gender equality.

13.Despite its name, Iceland doesn’t actually get all that cold (compared to some places) nor does it get very warm. The record high temperature was 30.5 °C (86.9 °F) in 1939 and the record low was -38 °C (-36.4 °F) in 1918. Although the typical average is usually much milder than most people expect.

14.Here is something that probably seems shocking to us here in the United States, but it is not uncommon in Iceland to leave children outside to nap when going shopping or sitting down at a restaurant for dinner.

15.Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice due to the presence of both volcanoes active and massive glaciers.

16.The Icelandic language falls at number 9 on the list of toughest languages in the world, and it’s spoken by less than 400,000 people.

17.Some of the…interesting foods Icelanders eat include puffin, fermented shark, sheep’s head (yes, this is literally the entire head of a sheep on your plate), and even picked ram’s testicles.

18.There is very little crime in Iceland and virtually no violent crime. Police officers don’t even carry guns. In fact, only one man has ever been shot by police there.

19.During the summer months Iceland experiences 24 hours of daylight, a great time to experience the midnight sun. In contrast during the winter months the country experiences almost 24 hours of darkness, which is when the northern lights are typically seen.

20.In 2017 Iceland saw more than 2 million tourists pass through the country, a number far larger than even their own population.

21.Beer was illegal in Iceland until 1989.

22.There is a volcanic eruption approximately every 4 years.

23.The capital, Reykjavík, is the northernmost capital in the world.

24.Iceland was originally under the rule of Denmark until declaring independence in 1944.

25.Iceland is the youngest country in the world in terms of land formation.

26.Part of southern Iceland is made up of the Vatnajökullglacier which is the largest ice cap in Europe. It is even actually larger than all the other glaciers in Europe combined and covers 8% of the country’s landmass.

27.Icelandic authors publish more books per capita than anywhere else in the world.

28.Icelanders watch more movies at the cinema than any other country.

29.Many Icelanders still believe in the existence of elves, which are also the center of many folk tales passed down through generations.

30.Instead of a Santa Claus at Christmas time there are 13 yule lads, each with funny little personality quirks.

31.Coca-cola is consumed at one of the highest per capita rates in the world.

32.The only mammal native to Iceland is the arctic fox.

33.Polar bears aren’t found in Iceland but will sometimes be found floating its way over from Greenland on a chunk of ice.

34.The Icelandic horse has two additional gaits more than any other breed.

35.On the topic of Icelandic horses, you can take one out of the country, but you will not be allowed to bring it back in.

36.Despite its name, Iceland’s surface is only ten percent ice. Upon discovering the land Vikings named the relatively green land of Iceland this way, and gave Greenland, which was cold and icy, its name in hopes of tricking others who wanted to settle there into going to the wrong land.

37.Nudity is a very normal thing in Iceland. Before you go in a public pool or hot spring everyone must shower completely nude in an open bathhouse in order to assure everyone is clean before getting in the water. While this may sound very strange to many of us, it is very common for them.

38.The water in Iceland is naturally heated by the hot springs located all over the country. So whereas in the US we may turn on the tap and have to wait for it to warm up, in Iceland you will likely turn on the tap to scalding hot water and instead have to wait for it to cool down.

39.Since Iceland is such a small country almost everybody is related somehow. There is actually an app specifically for checking to see how closely you are related to someone.

40.The Icelandic flag colors represent blue for mountains, red for fire, and white for ice and snow.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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