From its harsh cold weather to fiery volcanoes, Iceland is one place you need to put on your bucket list. Check out 12 fascinating facts from "the land of ice and fire."
1Iceland has no mosquitoes
There are no mosquitoes in Iceland. Amazing, considering that they breed in places like Antarctica and Greenland. All these countries have similar climatic conditions—there shouldn’t be any reason why Iceland shouldn’t also have mosquitoes.
But strangely, it is the Icelandic climate that prevents mosquitoes from surviving. In colder countries, they breed by hibernating in the winter and hatching in the spring. However, the weather in Iceland is so unpredictable that mosquitoes are unable to make it. (Hey, no Chikungunya!)
2Iceland has the largest number of internet users per population
100% of Iceland’s population had access to the Internet in 2016. Even advanced countries like the U.S. and the UK don’t have that—in fact, their numbers don’t even come close!
In mid-2000, only 89% of the population had access to the interwebs, but by 2016, every single citizen of Iceland had Internet. Perhaps it’s time people call Iceland the land of ice, fire, and the World Wide Web.
3They believe in the existence of Elves over there
Elves are undeniably cool characters and are also a race created from the imagination of great minds. But you'd be hard-pressed to meet an Icelandic native who doesn’t believe in their existence.
Stories about their mischievous antics are a standard part of the day to day lives of the people there. Most of the people think that while elves are peaceful, they become threatened when you try to disturb their home.
According to Icelandic mythology, elves live in rocky areas and possess magical powers. Belief in these fictional characters is encouraged there—more opportunities open up for you especially if you are a musician, according to the famous Icelandic singer Bjork.
4The comedian who became the mayor of Reykjavik
When Jon Gnarr ran for mayor, some thought that he might have a chance but his ingenious campaign won the hearts and minds everyone. The comedian created his own political party, and one of his campaign promises was to break every single campaign promise he made. He came, he saw, he conquered and led the city for four years. After his term, his party was disbanded, and when asked about its future, he said that it was a surprise party and never a political one. Gotta love this guy!
5The first Parliament in Europe was formed in Iceland
The oldest Parliament in the world belongs to the land of ice and fire. It was held as an outdoor assembly called Althing in Þingvellir, Reykjavik in 930 AD. The country's most powerful leaders met there to discuss their plans and serve justice to any who needed it. In the beginning, everyone was invited to attend the event.
From the date of its inception, the assembly has been held there every single year until the country fell under the monarchy of Denmark. During this time, Icelanders had to give up their right to create and change laws.
The assembly was disbanded, but the tradition didn’t disappear. The Althing gave way to the High Court which continued to hold regular sessions for upholding justice in Icelandic society.
6There are almost no natural forests in Iceland
Though the country has extremely fluctuating harsh climates, Iceland is one of the most deforested countries in the world. It’s not that trees never grew there, but when the Vikings made Iceland their home, they cut them down like nobody’s business.
It is said that in the 9th-century almost 25% of Iceland had birch woodlands, but today that number has shrunk to 1%. Though a lot of organized forestry is occurring, it’s still weird to see a country with very little natural foliage.
7Names are very important in Iceland
Icelandic people don’t have ancestral surnames, as their names only reflect the fact that they are the son/daughter of their parents.
While most countries place significance on the family name of an individual, in Iceland, your first name is the important one. There there are some strict laws on the types of names one can choose in Iceland. This is done to preserve the culture and traditions of the country. If a name is not officially accepted, an appeal must be made to the Icelandic Naming Committee which will review the situation and grant their approval or disapproval.
8Iceland is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world
The active volcanoes found on the land mass create more than enough geothermal energy to provide power for the entire country and Iceland also uses hydro energy to cut down costs and pollution further.
Because of such abundant natural resources, less fossil fuel is burned there—nearly 40% of the people who live there don’t use fossil fuels at all.
There are a lot of hot springs in Iceland, due to its volcanic activity.
Most homes in Iceland are heated with geothermal water pumped from underground.
9Golfers take advantage of Iceland's midnight sun
In Iceland, a natural phenomenon called the midnight sun occurs during the summer months. For a few days every year, the sun is visible throughout the day. This is not something unique to Iceland as the number of days that might have the midnight sun increases as you move closer to the poles. However, in Iceland, the people have found an ingenious way to take advantage of the extra sunlight. During the days of 24 hour sunlight, people from all over the world meet to play golf. It is said to be one of the most refreshing and unique golfing experiences one can have.
10The Icelandic language stays tied to its Nordic roots
The Icelandic language came from Old Norse, and while other Nordic languages have evolved over the years, Icelandic still retains the same grammar and vocabulary as its ancient tongue.
Whereas the languages of other nations borrowed from others, Iceland created a vocabulary based on its Nordic roots with the intent of retaining its rich history and culture and Icelanders had the foresight to do so from the 18th-century.
11Iceland has the most bookworms in the world
Icelanders are a book-loving people. There are more books written, published, and bought per capita in Iceland than any other nation in the world. One out of ten residents even publishes a book in their lifetime. Though the land is filled with beautiful landscapes, going out for movies and other recreational activities can get a bit dicey due to the unpredictable weather conditions, but a book is something you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
12Iceland has an anti-incest app to help you make sure that you don’t hook up with a relative
Why would you need an app to tell you not to hook up with your relatives? While this may not make sense to people in other places, it’s different for Iceland. The country has spent a long time isolated, and it’s very sparsely populated—a lot of people in Iceland share common ancestors as a result. So, it’s handy to have an app that will alert you if someone you plan to go out with is actually a member of your family.