Iceland remains to be a destination of splendor and natural phenomena. The energy that is palpable from the cinematic landscapes and elements of nature draw out the most creative of travelers. Apart from the world- famous volcanoes and geysers, the country is unrivaled when it comes to its rich historical roots and love for anything artistic, such as music and literature. Iceland locals are proof that human stories intertwine with the power of nature, with traits like resourcefulness, industriousness and quirkiness. Travelers can expect to connect deeply with the community and nature, providing a more personal experience that changes your life’s perspectives.
Important and Interesting Facts about Iceland
- Iceland is a Nordic country between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean
- Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists mainly of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands.
- Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle.
- Until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on fishing and agriculture. Industrialisation of the fisheries and Marshall Plan aid following World War II brought prosperity and Iceland became one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world.
- Iceland ranks high in economic, political and social stability and equality. In 2013, it was ranked as the 13th most-developed country in the world by the United Nations’ Human Development Index.
- THE NORTHERN LIGHTS is a spectacle that can only be witnessed in the winter months, be sure to arrive between the months of September and March (those two months are actually best). There is nothing in the world like it, definitely a must see in your lifetime. This is an one of the Iceland tourist attractions that cannot be missed. While the northern lights can be seen throughout the entire hemisphere, most tourists visit Alaska, Iceland, and the Nordic countries in Europe to see the northern lights.
- The tourist attractions in Iceland start and end with Reykjavik. The largest city in Iceland hosts 2/3 of the country’s entire population. Culturally unique to any place in the world; parties last for hours into the night, the people and surroundings make it feel cozy and quaint, great museums and arts district, and an opportunity to sample whale and to indulge in some disgusting sea creatures.
- One of Iceland’s most popular things to do, the blue lagoon is a geothermal pool that feeds off Earth’s natural forces from 6,500 below the ground. It’s a pricey attraction but worth every single penny. You have the opportunity to bathe in a massive heated pool thats heated naturally, get massaged by a powerful waterfall, clenase your face with the mineral rich silica mud (and learn the best “silica removal technique” after bathing).
- Many tour operators even take you to the retreating glaciers around Iceland as well. This is one of the Iceland activities that you will rarely experience anywhere else in the world.
- Lake Myvatn was established as a conservation area in 1974, this place has turn to be one of the best tourist attractions. There’s much to discover here such as the waterfall of the Gods, which is considered the most famous waterfall in Europe. One can also see the lavishness of bird-life, volcanic craters as well as beautiful lakes.
- Asbyrgi is a 3 ½ kilometer long canyon with 100 meter walls. Fulmars may be seen in this place during the breeding season. Asbyrgi is situated in the northern most region of the famed Jokulsargliufur National Park.
- Seljalandsfoss is located between Skógafoss and Selfoss, the Seljalandsfoss is said to be one of the most photographed waterfalls in the country. Tourists can walk behind the 60-meter high waterfalls, making it a remarkable sight. The lush green setting and misty environs make this a perfect attraction to visit to take in the feel of the countryside.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts about Iceland
- Polls taken over a period of time have shown that the majority of Icelanders believe in elves. These elves usually live in rocky areas, have magical powers, and cause trouble if someone tries to disturb their home.
- During the months of June and July, Iceland has days with a full 24 hours of precious, beautiful sunlight. While you might think of a variety of things you could do with 24 hours of light in a day, a lot of people in Iceland look at it as a splendid time to catch up on their golf.
- Iceland is fairly well known for being liberal when it comes to sexual issues, so it may come as a surprise to outsiders that their government voted to ban strip clubs. However, the government has not limited their sights just to the physical world of stripping. Recently, they have also been considering placing a ban on online pornography. Some may think that this is a backward way of looking at sex, but from their perspective it is actually quite progressive.
- In Iceland, handball is basically the national sport.Handball has been described as being sort of like soccer, except you actually use your hands. It is actually an incredibly fast-paced and brutal game; scores generally run much higher than soccer and violent play is often perfectly within the rules.
- Eaten regularly as a snack or with meals, the dairy product Skyr is one of the most popular foods in Iceland. However, despite its popularity within the country, it isn’t well known outside of Iceland. That may change soon however, as Russell Crowe recently returned from a trip to Iceland with a love for the stuff and now it will be coming to Fresh Markets throughout the United States. Skyr is considered by many to be much like yogurt, but it is actually a form of soft cheese and is prized for having a high amount of protein and virtually no fat.
- Instead of Santa Claus, Iceland has something called the Yule Lads. These strange lads have an interesting history because they didn’t start out as bringers of Yuletide joy; they were actually descended from trolls and were used the way parents today use the threat of taking away a video game console—to scare small children. However, in the 1700s a decree was issued that actually made it illegal for parents to do this, and eventually the Yule Lads became a Christmas tradition.
- If there is one thing Iceland is well known for, it is probably their love of strange cuisine, and this extends to more than just food. Apart from drinking more Coca Cola per capita than anywhere else in the world, Iceland also has a drink all their own that they call Brennivin. This alcoholic beverage has something of a nasty reputation, even among Icelanders. Brennivin is a sort of schnapps distilled from potatoes; this doesn’t sound too bad, but it also uses caraway seeds, and this apparently gives it a vile flavor.
- In Iceland mosquitoes do not exist. Mostly because its too cold for them to thrive and partly because the locals are usually bundled up in fur that mosquitoes’ cant feed on them.
- In Iceland people are called on a first name basis, since surnames do not exist in the country. Girls are the daughter of their father (for instance Anna Jónsdóttir – Anna, daugther of Jón), and boys are the sons of their fathers (for instance, Gunnar Guðmundsson – Gunnar, son of Guðmundur). Some people want to be named after both parents, such as Anna Tinnudóttir Gunnarsdóttir (Anna, the daughter of Gunnar and Tinna). Women keep their last names when they get married and when looking for someone in the phonebook, you always look under the first name. FIrst names are also pre-approved by the government and any new name should be submitted for consideration.
- In every swimming pool in Iceland you must take a shower and wash properly before entering the pool and/or hot tub. If not, you will be asked to return to the shower to wash properly! These showers (separate for men/women of course!) are not private showers and foreigners often find it strange how Icelanders can just walk naked to the shower and wash themselves in front of others.
- It’s a common sight to see mothers meeting up with their friends in cafés and catching up on the latest gossip. But they will sometimes leave their baby in the pram outside the café, where they can watch it through the window. That way the baby won’t wake up from the hustle and bustle of the café – and the fresh air will do it good. Not to worry, it’s perfectly safe.
- Icelanders have a specific sauce for pizza, pita, fries, chips, hamburgers, hot-dogs, obviously various different ones for fish, meat or poultry – brown, cheese, mushroom, coca-cola, bernaise etc… And for ice-cream: chocolate, luxury chocolate, caramel, liquorice, red (fruity)…
Historical and Cultural Facts about Iceland
- The earliest inhabitants of Iceland were Irish hermits, who left the island upon the arrival of the pagan Norse people in the late 9th century. A constitution drawn up c. 930 created a form of democracy and provided for an Althing , the world’s oldest practicing legislative assembly. The island’s early history was preserved in the Icelandic sagas of the 13th century.
- In 1262–1264, Iceland came under Norwegian rule and passed to ultimate Danish control through the unification of the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark (the Kalmar Union) in 1397.
- In 1874, Icelanders obtained their own constitution, and in 1918, Denmark recognized Iceland, via the Act of Union, as a separate state with unlimited sovereignty. It remained, however, nominally under the Danish monarchy.
- During the German occupation of Denmark in World War II, British, then American, troops occupied Iceland and used it for a strategic air base. While officially neutral, Iceland cooperated with the Allies throughout the conflict. On June 17, 1944, after a popular referendum, the Althing proclaimed Iceland an independent republic.
- Iceland offers wide varieties of traditional cuisine. Þorramatur (food of the þorri) is the Icelandic national food. Nowadays þorramatur is mostly eaten during the ancient Nordic month of þorri, in January and February, as a tribute to old culture. Þorramatur consists of many different types of food. These are mostly offal dishes like pickled ram’s testicles, putrefied shark, singed sheep heads, singed sheep head jam, black pudding, liver sausage (similar to Scottish haggis) and dried fish (often cod or haddock) with or without butter.
- Most holidays are associated with the Christian religious calendar. Others include the first day of summer on a Thursday from 19 to 25 April, Labor Day on 1 May, National Day on 17 June, and Commerce Day on the first Monday of August. These holidays are observed by having a day off from work and possibly traveling to the family summer house for a brief vacation.
- There is a Catholic church and churches of other groups in Reykjavík. There are many Lutheran churches, and their clergy substitute for social service agencies. Other religions include Seventh-Day Adventists, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bahai, and followers of the Asa Faith Society, which looks to the gods represented in the saga tradition. Less than 2 percent of the population in 1993 was not affiliated with a religious denomination.
- There is more gender equality than there is in many other countries. The open nature of the political system allows interested women to organize as a political party to pursue their interests in the parliament. There are women clergy. Fishing is largely in the hands of men, while women are more prominent in fish processing.
- Iceland has produced a number of talented writers including Nobel Prize laureate, Halldór Laxness (1955). It is no accident that Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, was the first non-English speaking city in the world to be named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2011.
- Icelandic traditional arts include weaving, silversmithing, and wood carving.
- Though changing in the past years, Icelanders remain a very healthy nation. Children and teenagers participate in various types of leisure activities. Popular sports today are mainly soccer, athletics, handball and basketball. Sports such as golf, tennis, swimming, chess and horseback riding on an Icelandic horse are also popular.