Iceland, such a distant, small island that not so long ago was forgotten by the rest of the world. The small piece of land was there on the map, close to Greenland. And many thought of it as a permanent-frozen land where people would be eaten by polar bears or would die of cold. Why would anyone want to go to such a harsh place? Probably because we were all so wrong. And were it not for its unique, natural attractions that came to light, this false conception would remain today. Nowadays, everyone wants to visit Iceland, sightsee its mighty waterfalls, have a dip in the hot springs of the Blue Lagoon. People are dreaming of being able to see the Northern Lights in Iceland at least once in their lifetime. No wonder why Iceland is on top of the best tourist destinations list. It turns out, however, that besides the well-known and famous viewpoints and must-see wonders, Iceland has some fascinating history and culture. So what are those astonishing facts about Iceland that we can be proud of?
What are some interesting facts about Iceland?
Iceland is an exciting country; no wonder it also has some interesting facts that you might not have thought of.
#1 Iceland has one of the purest water in the world
This is a fact and a fascinating one, especially if you are planning your trip to Iceland. There is no need to buy bottled water in supermarkets. Remember to bring a reusable bottle and fill it in whenever you run out of water. You can fill it up at gas stations, campsites, and restaurants. If you are planning a glacier hike, you will be able to get some glacier water. It is said that if you drink water right out of the glacier, you will stay forever young! Well, I'm just joking, but it's worth trying, right?
#2 Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world
The crime level is relatively low which is a remarkable fact about Iceland. You can feel safe here and, at least when it comes to Icelanders, do not worry about your belongings. To understand how safe the country is, I will give you some interesting facts about this. For instance, you can leave your vehicle open, with the keys inside on the street, and no one will touch it. It is very usual in winter that Icelanders turn on their heating or Webasto in their cars and leave in parked on the street while they are having breakfast. How long would the vehicle remain untouched elsewhere in the world? One hour as maximum probably? The other fact is that Icelanders leave little children in trolleys outside coffee shops. This behavior also has another reason related to health, but if it were not so safe in here, who would leave your child unattended while enjoying your cup of coffee?
#3 Beer was banned between 1915 and 1989
Sad days for the Icelanders. It was all due to the referendum voted by the population. Now, every March, they celebrate Beer Day as a remembrance of those days, there were not allowed to order a beer legally. Nowadays, you will not find beer with more than 2,25% of alcohol content in the supermarkets. You will not find beer in the grocery stores either. There are liquor stores named ATVR, where you will be able to stock up. Unlike in other European countries, you must be at least 20 years old to buy and drink Icelandic beer.
#4 The Icelandic Horse
One of the most incredible facts about Iceland is that its horse breed is the only one on the island. It is not allowed to bring other horses to the island, and if any of the Icelandic horse leaves their land, it will not be allowed to get in again. Icelanders are very proud of their breed and believe it is the purest one in the world. Even though they look like a "pony," never call them so. It isn't very respectful! This breed can do five different gaits, while the other horses can only do three.
#5 There is no orphanage in Iceland
This is one of the best facts about Iceland. The family is the most essential and crucial thing in Iceland. Any abandoned children go to the temporal houses from where they are quickly adopted. Icelanders are very kind people, so I would rather be surprised if it were otherwise.
#6 Iceland is one of the most eco-friendly countries
Nature is a fundamental issue for Icelanders. It is like their identity and a national symbol. Nature has always been the main subject of literature and art for centuries. Icelanders want to live in harmony with their nature, and thus, they take good care of it.
Fun facts about Iceland
Besides these interesting facts about Iceland, we found some quite funny facts. Of course, it is not our intention to laugh at it but to show how unique and special this country is.
#1 Iceland- The Land of Fire and Ice and... Sheep
There are more sheep in Iceland than people. When the spring comes, they are let out so they can freely walk all around Iceland. Only when autumn approaches, the Rettir takes place, and all the farmers gather along with their friends to help out and look for the sheep. Do not be surprised if you find them right int the middle of the road or very far in the mainland. If you happen not be able to spot any sheep on your road trip (I highly doubt that), you can quickly get a key chain or any other souvenir with the sheep on it in Reykjavik's Laugavegur street.
#2 Most of the Icelanders believe in elves and trolls
There is a significant part of Icelanders that genuinely believe in elves and trolls. However, if you try to ask them about it, you can be sure that you will not get a clear answer. Some of the Icelanders do not believe those creatures exist but, at the same time, are scared to say it at loud, just in case the elves and trolls hear it. Gryla and her thirteen sons- the Yule Lads, are the most well known in the Icelandic troll folklore.
#3 Icelanders were born in sweaters
That is a fun fact about Icelanders that all of them wear sweaters. Usually, the typical Lopapeysa made of wool is always a part of their outfit. Most of the tourists coming to Iceland get one too as a souvenir. Make sure you get one also, so you have the complete Icelandic cool look!
#4 Icelanders have no surnames?
Whenever you meet someone in Iceland, you will realize that they give you their name and the name of their father. A long time ago, the Icelandic population was so small that there was no reason to provide surnames. Can you imagine finding a particular person in a phone book?
#5 You shower at the public pools...naked
That is a fun fact but also has a good explanation. Most of the pools in Iceland are filled with geothermal water, with many nourishing minerals good for our body and skin. Chlorine cannot be added, or it would destroy those minerals. This is why it is vital to have a good shower using soap and cleaning all the parts of your body before entering the pools. No worries though, this is something very ordinary and usual here, so you do not need to be shy at all!
#6 There are no dogs and mosquitos in Iceland
Most of Iceland is free from mosquitoes. To be honest with you, it's not like we miss them. The dog ban was in place in 1924 as an attempt to control the spreading of disease. Dogs are now permitted within the Icelandic borders, but the owner must first abide by strict health clauses and permits.
#7 There is no McDonald's in Iceland
All those who thought they could head to a McDonald's if they did not like the local cuisine could not be any more wrong. Bad news, there is not Mcs in Iceland. Not even in Reykjavik, the capital city. The company opened a franchise in the '90s, but it was closed soon after as it was not successful among Icelanders. Instead of that, you can always try the traditional fermented shark or boiled goat head to feel closer to Icelandic culture.