50 Fascinating Facts about Iceland

Iceland is a Nordic island country with an intriguing history and spectacular natural attractions that bring many tourists to the island. Volcanically active, much of the land is covered by sand and lava fields, mountain and glaciers. Iceland is a country that has learned how to take advantage of its natural resources while also protecting them, and its geothermal hot springs are hugely popular with residents and tourists alike. Although it has many visitors, Iceland remains the most sparsely population country in Europe, with a population of around 350,000. Most of the population lives near the capital city of Reykjavík in the southeast of the country. Iceland is uniquely situated in the North Atlantic; it is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite being just outside the Arctic Circle.

Iceland Facts

1
Iceland had its first permanent settler in 874AD, a Viking from Norway
2
It was the last island in Europe to be established and eventually populated
3
The original Iceland population was of Nordic and Gaelic descent
4
Floki Vilgeroarson was the first Norseman to intentionally sail to Iceland and he took 3 ravens with him from the Faroe Islands to help him find his way
5
The character Floki in the Vikings television series is based on Floki Vilgeroarson
6
A smallpox epidemic in the 18th Century caused fatalities to 1/3 of Iceland’s population
7
The capital of Iceland is Reykjavic which is also the biggest city
8
The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic Krona
9
Its official language is Icelandic. Danish and English are both widely understood and spoken and compulsory in schools
10
Iceland is the 18th largest island in the world and also the 2nd largest island in Europe following Britain
11
It suffered 37 years of famine between the years 1500-1804
12
The majority of Iceland’s population reside in Reykjavic with approximately 60% living there
13
Iceland struggled for independence following the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars and eventually claimed it from Denmark on 1st December 1918
14
Iceland became a republic on 17th June 1944
15
Until the 20th Century, Iceland was considered one of the poorest countries in Europe as at the time the economy relied solely on fishing and agriculture
16
Following World War 2, the industrialisation of fisheries and Marshall Plan aid brought an abundance of fortune and wealth making Iceland knows as one of the most developed nations
17
Iceland was ranked as the 9th most developed country in the world by the UN in 2016
18
Iceland has no standing army but instead has an Icelandic coast guard who is there is to support the peacekeeping missions
19
Iceland’s main historical conflict was the dispute between the Coast Guard and the Royal Navy regarding the British fishermen
20
This historical conflict is also referred to as Cod Wars
21
Iceland has one of the most advanced healthcare systems rating 9th in the world
22
Iceland is considered to be European both for historical reasons and practical reasons even though it includes sections of both the North American and European continental plates
23
Iceland is home to hundreds of volcanoes with an estimated 30 of them being active
24
The only native mammal to Iceland is the Arctic fox which is thought to have arrived on the island following the Ice Age
25
Whale watching plays an important role in Iceland’s economy and makes a lot of money offering whale watching tours more than anything else
26
Gulfoss is the most famous waterfall in Iceland and is also known as the Golden Circle. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions that Iceland has
27
The national tree is the Northern Birch
28
The main traditional sport in Iceland is known as Glima. It is a form of wrestling that was thought to have been introduced in the Medieval times
29
The national sport, however, is handball
30
Traditional Icelandic music is closely related to Nordic music and is strongly religious
31
Iceland was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the country ranked most at peace and it is known as the most peaceful country in the world according to Global Peace Index
32
Iceland has a very low crime rate, even the police do not or need to carry guns
33
Iceland is the worlds largest electricity producer and runs almost completely on renewable energy
34
Polar Bears have been to known to visit Iceland, reaching there on icebergs from Greenland but they never stay there
35
Iceland was the first country in the world that had a political party formed and led completely by women
36
The Icelandic have freedom of religion and religious attendance is very low
37
Iceland was one of the first countries to legalise same sex marriage in 2011 even though in 2006 parliament voted to grant same sex couples the same opportunities, such as, adoption as heterosexual couples
38
Raw Puffin Hearts are considered a delicacy in Iceland
39
Icelandic cuisine is a very acquired taste including singed sheep-heads, rams testicles and black pudding
40
Traditional Icelandic dishes include skyr which is a yoghurt-like cheese and hakarl which is cured shark
41
The majority of the Icelandic people believe in elves
42
They have been known as going as far re - routing roads so as to not disturb certain rocks that are the supposed to be the homes of elves
43
Iceland is home to many geysers, which include Geysir and the recognised Strokkur which is known to erupt every 8-10 minutes
44
Christmas is celebrated on the 24th December at 6pm
45
Bondadagur which also translates as husbands’ day, occurs in late January and the women must give gifts to their men and feed them traditional food
46
Iceland has the highest Coca-Cola consumption in the world along with Mexico
47
Beer was legalised in 1989
48
Iceland is one of the few countries that doesn’t have any McDonalds restaurants
49
Strip-bars were made illegal in 2011
50
There are no mosquitoes in Iceland

As an island country, Iceland has numerous native species of plants and animals. There are around 1,300 species of insects (but almost no mosquitos). The only native land mammal present when humans arrived was the Arctic fox, which came to the island at the end of the ice age, walking over the frozen sea. The animals of Iceland include Icelandic horses, sheep and sheepdogs, cattle, chickens, goats, all of which are descendants of animals imported by Europeans. Wild animals include the Arctic fox, mink, rabbits, and reindeer. Even polar bears occasionally end up on the island, travelling on icebergs from Greenland. Many species of fish live in the waters surrounding Iceland, and the fishing industry is a major part of the country's economy. Whale watching has also become an important part of Iceland's economy since it was introduced in the 1990s.

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