Iceland is an island nation in Europe located in North Atlantic Ocean with a population of around 330,000 people. The country is Europe’s most sparsely populated with a land size of over 100,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi). How many of these fun Iceland facts did you know?
- Legend has it that Iceland was initially given the name Snowland by a Norwegian visitor in the 9th century: The same story holds that a Viking would later rename the country Iceland after seeing a fjord filled with drifting ice.
- While everyone knows about the Cold War between the US and USSR, have you heard of the Cod War? This refers to a series of disputes between Iceland and the UK over fishing rights. Iceland ultimately prevailed in 1976 winning an exclusive fishing zone.
- One of the great things about living in Iceland is that it is free of mosquitoes: Clearly these insects aren’t a fan of the cold climate. In fact, Iceland only has around 1,300 varieties of insects – compared to over 1,000,000 found elsewhere on earth.
- In 1983, a political party named the Women’s Alliance was formed in Iceland: This was the first political party in the world that was formed and run purely to advance the interests of women. As of the most recent elections in 2016, 48% of Iceland’s parliament members are female.
- The Global Peace Index, which is a measurement of which nations are the most peaceful in the world, ranked Iceland as number one in every year since 2011: This is reflection on the fact that Iceland has no military and a low crime rate.
- Iceland derives the vast majority (85%+) of its energy through renewable sources: The nation makes the most of the abundant geothermal and hydroelectric resources it has available.
- There are lots of cars in Iceland, so many that there is an average of 1.5 cars for each person in the country! Part of the reason is Iceland is a popular tourist destination, and most visitors rent cars for their trip.
- If you’re looking up an Icelander in the telephone directory, you’ll find the listings are sorted alphabetically by first name, rather than surname: That’s because Iceland uses a naming convention where surnames are handed down by the parents, so the son of a man named Jon will have the surname Jonson. As such, there are a lot of identical surnames!
- Most Icelandic dishes don’t use herbs or spices that are commonly found in other cuisines around the world: That’s because very few of the plants that yield these seasonings grow natively. If you have a brave stomach, some exotic local delicacies include cured shark, sheep heads and puffin bird!