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Cool and Interesting Iceland Facts

To say that Iceland is a pretty interesting place would be the understatement of the year. It’s clear that the Land of Fire and Ice has quite a few cool and strange things up its sleeve when one starts diving into some Iceland facts.

If we’ve piqued your interest, or you’ve got a trip to the island coming up, then read on. You might be amazed at some of the Iceland facts and information we share here.

 Iceland facts

Interesting Facts About Iceland

If you’re looking for amazing facts about Iceland, you’ve come to the right place. Check these out:

60% of the Entire Country’s Population Lives in the Capital

It’s one of those interesting facts about Reykjavík. Reykjavík is the biggest urban area in Iceland, so the statistics don’t come as much of a surprise. The rest of the population can be found in the smaller towns and villages. The more remote regions of the country, on the other hand, are pretty much uninhabited.

Iceland population

The Vikings Never Wore Horns on their Helmets

This is one of those interesting Iceland Vikings facts debunking something that is believed to be an interesting Viking fact (the irony is not lost on us).

Iceland vikings facts

Icelander’s Work Ethic is Next Level

Icelanders work an average of 45 hours a week. This is significantly higher than the rest of Europe.

Iceland's work ethic

The Iceland Prohibition Only Ended Recently

1989 marked the end of a literal dry spell of 74 years. It’s an odd thing to realize when you take into account how popular craft beer has become on the island and how many breweries we have. We even have a national beer day that’s celebrated on the 1st of March.

Iceland acohol prohibition

Iceland has a National Sport you’ve Probably Never Heard of

Although Iceland practices much of the same sport as that which can be found across the world (Volleyball, Football, etc.), the country’s official national sport is probably something you’ve never heard of; Handball.

Iceland culture facts

Iceland was the Last Place to be Settled

That’s right, Iceland can be considered a newbie when it comes to countries. It was only settled by Vikings from Norway 800 years ago and is literally the last place that has been settled on earth.

Iceland viking past

Iceland was One of the First Countries with a Parliament

Or an Althing as it was called back then. This is probably one of Iceland’s most interesting history facts, and you can still visit the original site at Thingvellir National Park.

Icelandic parliament

Iceland is Not a Big Country

No, not just in size (it’s merely a tenth of the size of San Francisco), but in population. Only about 360 000 people are living in Iceland. To put that into perspective, it’s roughly 8 people per 2.6 square kilometers.

Iceland geography facts

There is no Military in Iceland

Well, technically, there’s no air force, navy, or army. There is a coast guard, but not even they have had to avert any big crisis in the last couple of decades.

Weird facts about Iceland

Vatnajökull is the Largest Glacier in Europe

The glacier is roughly 8100 square kilometers with a thickness of 400 meters and actually covers 8% of Iceland’s landmass.

Vatnajökull glacier

You Can’t just Name your Child Whatever you Want Here in Iceland

Iceland has an official register of approved names that parents need to pick their children’s names from, and even has an extensive list of banned names. If you can’t find the name you were thinking of on any of these lists, you’ll need to go to the naming committee to get permission first.

Interesting things about Iceland

Bottled Water is not Needed in Iceland

The only reason you’ll be buying bottled water here is either because you’ve just arrived, you don’t have a water bottle, or you forgot your water bottle. That’s because Iceland’s tap water is probably of a better quality than your bottled water will ever be. In fact, because most of the water found on the island is the purest of glacial water, you can actually take a sip straight from any lake or river here on the island.

Iceland lifestyle facts

Swimming is an Activity Done all Year Round

This is one of Iceland’s interesting lifestyle facts. Whether summer or winter, the Icelanders are always keen for a dip. This is because there is nothing better than sitting in one of Iceland’s hot springs with a blanket of snow draped around you and a bit of a bite in the air.

Iceland facts and information

Iceland has Earned Itself the Title of Best Place to Live as a Woman

This is because Iceland has also earned the title of the safest country on earth. So, as a woman, you don’t need to constantly question someone’s motives or look over your shoulder when traveling alone.

And as a country that has always been at the forefront of equality, you also won’t need to be worried about general discrimination in the workplace or getting paid less. In fact, Johanna Sigurdardottir was Iceland’s first female Prime Minister and a lesbian. So, to say that Iceland is progressive when it comes to gender equality might be the understatement of the year.

Iceland gender equality

You Won’t Find Private Hospitals Here on the Island

As in none. Iceland has a universal healthcare system that is fully paid for by taxes and is considered to provide some of the best healthcare in the world.

Iceland healthcare system

You Can Lie Suspended Between Two Continents

One of the most interesting Iceland geography facts is that you can literally float between two continents at a place called the Silfra Fissure here on the island. The Silfra Fissure is a tear (fissure) in the earth where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates push apart. This tear is now filled with glacial water, where you have the option of diving or snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure.

Iceland's Silfra Fissure

Iceland has More Than 100 Words for Wind

This shouldn’t come as a surprise when it comes to the Icelandic wind, which can change at the drop of a hat. The Iceland winds can range from a breeze to wind speeds that will literally rip a car door off its hinges.

Facts about Iceland's weather

We have 13 Santas

Well, if you hear the actual story of the Yule Lads (yes, that’s actually what they’re called) they are more like a combination between Santa and Snow White’s dwarfs. Each of the Yule Lads has a particular mischief it gets up to, and why they ended up with names such as Pot Licker and Sausage Snatcher.

It’s one of Iceland’s culture facts that Icelandic children put a shoe in their window for the 13 nights leading up to Christmas, and every night one of these mischievous lads will leave them a present.

Iceland culture facts

Dogs were not Allowed in Reykjavík

This is yet another one of the interesting facts about Reykjavík. Between 1924 and 1984, dogs were banned from the capital city, since the busy streets were deemed no place for these domestic pets.

Dogs in Iceland

Iceland Serves as Proof that you Should Never Underestimate the Little Guy

Iceland is the smallest country to ever qualify for the football World Cup. What makes this even more impressive is that when this first happened, players weren’t being paid and sport wasn’t really considered a career, but more of a hobby. So, most of the players in the original team were working full-day jobs.

Iceland soccer and football team

Iceland has Taken Third Place as one of the Happiest Places on Earth

This is due to our high quality of life here on the island, and any local can attest to this.

Our Biggest Predator Looks Like a Pomeranian

Really. The biggest predator you will find here on the island is the Arctic Fox. And whatever picture you have when you think of a fox can be thrown right out the window when it comes to these fluffballs. The Arctic Fox is small, completely white, and 100% looks like something Paris Hilton could’ve stuffed in her handbag once.

Iceland's Artic Fox

You Won’t Find any Mosquitoes in Iceland

This is probably one of the biggest perks we have here on the island due to our erratic weather patterns. It is especially nice during our summer months, when most are out and about doing all sorts of outdoor activities and going camping. But don't count your chickens just yet.

The fact that we don't have mosquitos doesn't mean we don't have insects. Instead, we have midges, or Lúsmý in Icelandic, that, luckily, have not yet spread across the country. You'll find them in certain areas of the South Coast, West Iceland and North. There's even a lake (Lake Myvatn) that literally means "Lake of the Midges". Beware of the bites!

Mosquitoes in Iceland

Iceland Came Up with the Word Geyser

Geyser is actually named after Geysir (the very first geyser found here on the island and in Europe) and simply means to gush forth in Icelandic.

Iceland geography facts

The Language hasn’t Evolved Much

Iceland is probably one of the few countries in the world where you can hand a local on the street an archaic document resembling something from Treasure Island, and they will be able to read it with no problems.

That’s because the Iceland language has not actually evolved that much and is pretty much still in its original Norse. It’s also interesting to note that the letters c, q, w, and z does not exist in the Icelandic alphabet.

Icelandic language

80% of the Country is Uninhabited

Remember the uninhabited, remote regions we mentioned earlier? Well, that actually constitutes almost the entire country!

Iceland's uninhabited regions

Iceland is a Northern Lights Mecca

It comes as no surprise that the Northern Lights can be seen in Iceland, just like in many other countries in the north. But Iceland has actually been credited as one of the go-to places between September and March, when the skies are the clearest and the nights are the longest.

Iceland's Northern Lights

Iceland Holds the Title of the Best Country for Personal Freedom

They have actually claimed the top spot on this Forbes list since 2015.

Reykjavík’s Former Mayor was a Comedian

No jokes. In fact, Jon Gnarr was one of the best mayors the capital has ever had. He managed to restore the city’s financial situation despite not having any sort of political background whatsoever.

Iceland has an App Where You Can Check Whether You’re not Dating a Family Member

It is a fairly uninhabited island, after all. And although Iceland has had a steady influx of new blood (literally) to the island in past years, there is still this underlying incestual fear. The app just puts people’s minds at ease.

Iceland’s Climate is Milder than you Think

One of the biggest misconceptions about Iceland is that people tend to envision scenes from Discovery documentaries about the North Pole when they think about the country. But this is simply not the case.

Although it does get cold, temperatures tend to hover around the 0-degree mark during the winter. Summers, on the other hand, can actually reach temperatures well into the 20s. On another interesting note, this is actually surprising when taking into account Iceland’s proximity to the Arctic Circle. So, technically, those Discovery doc expectations are theoretically realistic.

Interesting facts about Reykjavik

Iceland is a Bird Watchers Paradise

This is not just because it boasts interesting birds such as the Puffins, but the Latrabjarg Cliffs are actually the largest breeding ground for birds in all of Europe. The cliffs are home to MILLIONS of birds!

Puffins in Iceland

Iceland is One of the Best Places to go Whale Watching in the World

In fact, Husavik is known as the whale capital of Iceland and is the go-to place for spotting impressive whale species such as the Blue Whale, Orcas, and Humpback Whales.

Whale Watching in Iceland facts

Iceland is Pretty Much Cashless

It’s very rare that you will ever need to pay with cash in Iceland, and visitors are generally advised to leave their cash at home and simply pay via card. The only place where you might need a bit of cash is if you plan on tipping a guide.

Icelandic currency

Brennivin can be Considered Iceland’s National Drink

The word loosely translates to “burning wine” and it’s also known here as “Black Death”. And it’s not surprising why. This alcoholic beverage is made from fermented potato mash and flavored with caraway seeds, and is usually served with Hakarl (fermented shark meat).

Brennivin, Iceland's National drink

Iceland is One of the Few Countries in the World Without a McDonalds or a Starbucks

This is one of those weird facts about Iceland, and Icelanders are not in denial about how odd this seems to the outside world. In fact, they made the entire thing even weirder by placing the last McDonald’s cheeseburger ever sold on display and even had its decay live-streamed.

Iceland is a Fan of the Hot Dog Though

Iceland’s fast food aversion seems to only extend to these major franchises, and they are big fans of the hot dog. In fact, the hot dog is considered to be Iceland’s unofficial national dish.

The only difference is that it’s not your typical hot dog – our sausage is a combination of lamb, pork, and beef. And it’s also not called a hot dog but is known as Pylsur. The best way of ordering a Pylsur is “ein med öllu” which loosely translates to “one with everything”. This will ensure an explosion of taste sensations, just trust us on this one.

Iceland lifestyle facts

Come Fact-Check Our Iceland Facts

We have merely touched on some of the strange and fun facts about Iceland. But why don’t you come and fact-check us and discover the rest for yourself?

Renting a campervan in Reykjavík and setting off on a road trip around the island is considered one of the best (and most affordable!) ways of exploring the island and all it has to offer. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning that trip and come see all the interesting things about Iceland for yourself!


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