Iceland is part of Scandinavia and is one of the Nordic countries along with Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. There are many fun facts about Iceland that keep surfacing on social media. Most people know by now that Iceland is home to the most active volcano region of the world. It’s also home to the largest glacier and waterfall in Europe. There are a lot more interesting Iceland facts.
Top 20 Fun and Interesting Facts about Iceland
- Iceland is known for the northernmost golf course and botanical garden in the world.
- Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, is ranked as the world’s cleanest capital city.
- Iceland’s population is ranked at the top in terms of life expectancy. On average, Icelanders live longer than other people in the world.
- Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland is the world’s first democratically elected female president. Not only that, but Iceland is the first to have an openly gay Prime Minister.
- Iceland is almost the same size as Ohio and at just 39,000 sq. miles, it’s really small. That is one of the funny facts about Iceland
- It only has one proper forest, Hallormstadaskógur, present in the east. The country was covered with trees three centuries earlier, but over the
passage of time, these trees were eradicated for firewood and timber and while grazing sheep. Harsh winters and the ash from volcano eruptions also caused soil erosion that would prevent trees from taking root.
- Reforestation in Iceland is ongoing, and Iceland plants more trees today than any other nation. Four million trees are planted every year, almost 16 trees for every Icelandic person.
- The majority of Icelanders still believe in elves and despite their obsession with technology, 80% of Iceland’s population believes that elves exist. A proof of that comes from the fact that even now, building plans have been redesigned and roads have been rerouted so as not to disturb the rocks where elves are believed to be lived.
- The Icelandic language is derived from Old Norse, and it remains unchanged even today. 1000-year-old Icelandic texts are still easily readable today. The Icelandic language belongs to the Germanic family of languages which also includes Dutch, German, and all other Nordic languages except for Finnish.
- Although Iceland is cold, there are no polar bears except for a few accidental tourists that show up from Greenland every decade or so.
- Iceland’s only native mammal is the Arctic fox. Many rare breeds that have disappeared elsewhere in the world are still found in Iceland including the Icelandic horse, sheep, sheepdog, and cow. These are descendants of the ones brought over by the Vikings.
- Was America first discovered by Columbus? Wrong. Leif the Lucky was the first European that set foot in America. This Icelander traveled to a place he called Vinland because of the grapes he found there. After Leif, two more Icelanders led another expedition to America, tried to settle before giving up, and left America to go back to North Iceland.
- Iceland is the land of ice and fire as 11% of the country is covered with glaciers and 30% is made of lava fields. Volcanoes erupt here after every five years on average. The Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland is larger than all other European glaciers combined. Interestingly enough, beneath the icy surface of this glacier, there is fire and the volcanoes underneath it have erupted in the past.
- Iceland is the world’s youngest country, and its newest island Surtsey was formed after an underwater volcanic eruption occurred back in 1963.
- Even though geographically it is part of Europe, half of Iceland lies on the American plate and is moving westward very slowly. Its ancient parliament established at Thingvellir lies on a rift where you can stand on America’s edge and look towards Europe, which is 10km away.
- Icelanders are on a first name basis, and people are listed by their first name in telephone directories. Icelanders still use the Viking patronymics, and the surname is formed with the first name of the father.
- Up until 1989, beer was illegal in Iceland. Maybe that is why its Coca-Cola consumption per capita is higher than any other country. However, there’s not a single McDonalds present here.
- One of the fun facts about Iceland: the country decided to ban strip clubs in 2010.
- Icelanders are believed to watch more movies than all other nations.
- The country doesn’t have an army, air force or navy and the Iceland police don’t carry weapons because violent crime is nonexistent.