30 Things to Know About Iceland


1. Size

Iceland is just about the size of Ohio. Roughly about 39,000 square miles, 11% of it is all covered with glaciers, the 8% of the estimated area of glaciers is Vatnajökull, a single huge mass of ice. 30% of the whole country is lava fields and only about 59% can be inhabitable, not to mention the mountains and streams.

2. Weather

Iceland isn’t as cold as its name, as Greenland and New York City are even colder during winter. Most Iceland’s area is covered with green grass especially during summer.

3. Population

There are less than 400.000 inhabitants in Iceland and most of them, about 2/3 of the country’s population, resides in the city of Reykjavik.

4. European Union

Iceland is a part of Europe but not a member of the European Union. They applied to enter the EU but the application was soon put on hold and later withdrawn.


5. Northern Lights

When the sun shines in Iceland, it really shines. During the peak of summer, the sun stays for 24 hours but during the mid winter, there are only a few hours of daylight but the Aurora Borealis fills their sky with lights.

6. Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Waterfalls

Because Iceland is on the juncture of Eurasian and North American continental plates that are slowly shifting away from each other, Iceland has mini earthquakes every now and then. Also because of this, Iceland has the most astonishing features like hundreds of waterfalls and two of them are the largest and most powerful in entire Europe, as well as proud volcanoes. There are at least two sites where you can cross the two continents by foot (geographically speaking!)

7. Volcanic Islands

Surtsey Island, the youngest place on Earth is located in western part of Iceland. The island only came to existence when a volcanic eruption took place in 1963.


8. Icelandic Forests

Although Iceland is filled with wonderful scenery such as volcanoes (active and dormant), waterfalls, glaciers and caves, lava fields, fjords, mountains, lagoons and much more, you will hardly ever see any towering trees.

9. Early Settlers

Norsemen are the first people who ever settled in Iceland in the year 800’s. The very first person who ever lived permanently and even built his house was Ingólfur Arnarson, who have settled in year 874, followed by others in 930.

10. Althingi

Iceland has been the site of the oldest Parliament in the whole world, founded in 930.

11. Names

When you notice the Icelanders name in their phone book, they are listed with first name in alphabetical order instead of their last name. That is because the Icelanders are using patronymics to name their children which makes their last name coming from their parent’s name.

12. Trains

There are no rail systems in Iceland and that is why everybody has to own a car to travel around. They have the highest car ownership rate in the world.

13. Pure Icelandic Water

You can drink the purest cold water in Iceland. The water from the faucet is the most purified water you can ever drink. It comes from a natural glacial spring and is filtered through lava mountains. If you need a cold glass of water, it´s very easy to get one for free!


14. Geothermal Power

Iceland doesn’t have oil or gas produced and 80% of their energy is from geothermal and hydro-power plants. Their cars are powered by hydrogen fuels which make Iceland the cleanest country in the whole world.

15. Gay and Lesbian Rights

Same sex marriages are approved and Iceland has the most number of open gay and lesbian relationships.

16. Volcanic Eruptions

Iceland has 130 volcanoes all in all but only 40 of them have erupted the last 1000 years.

17. Crime

Crime rate in Iceland is very low, which is one of the reasons why you cannot even see the police officers carry their guns around while patrolling. Guns are considered illegal except for the ones used for hunting and special licenses are required.


18. Beer

Beer Prohibition had been implied in Iceland for 74 years and the prohibition only ended in 1989. We all know that the early inhabitants in Iceland are the Vikings who just couldn´t get enough of beer and meat, but their descendants unfortunately had to end that practice because of the beer ban law that was implemented in 1915. In March 1, 1989, was the end of their suffering. Icelanders celebrate the “Beer Day” on March 1st. Icelanders and tourists can now freely enjoy their beers all night long.

19. Icelanders Abroad

15,000 Icelanders left Iceland during 19th century and went to live in different parts of the world like Canada and Utah being the highest Icelander settlers.

20. Tipping

Tipping in Iceland has been a great issue. Most Icelanders believes tipping isn’t necessary because they do their job accordingly without expecting something in return. You can though tip on special occasions.

21. Language

The Icelandic language has remained in Iceland as their national language despite the fact that most of Icelanders are very proficient in English. The “please” word remains as please as there is no Icelandic word for it.

22. Healthy Food

Iceland has the healthiest food selection. Even their Coca-cola is made out of Icelandic water and not from corn syrup. You will neither find McDonald’s nor Burger King in Iceland.

23. Partying

Since alcoholic beverages in clubs and bars are expensive, Icelanders drink at home first before they hit the town.


24. Icelandic Horses

The Icelandic horse isn’t the same breed as the common horse in the whole world as they have special features. They are Iceland’s gems as well. Sheep are also well cared of in Iceland as there is more sheep population than that of the Icelanders.

25. Luxurious Objects

Icelanders are the most luxurious people as they are the most developed people in whole world. But unlike the people in Beverly Hills where they spend their money for luxury things, the Icelanders luxurious way is way that is easy to justify. Like for example almost all the residents an internet connection and they love to decorate their homes with beautiful things, such as paintings.


26. Swimming

Swimming is the hobby of every Icelander. Despite of the cold weather and climate in Iceland, Icelanders are most fond of swimming outdoors. They have the best heated swimming pools you can ever imagine, complete with slides and hot tubs. But you must always and I mean ALWAYS take a bath first before you go soaking and swimming in their pools. They have strict policies about this. The water of their pools either comes from the hot springs or the geothermal power plants, either way; it is good for the skin.

27. Life Expectancy

Iceland has the highest life expectancy all over the world. Life expectancy after birth in Iceland is 82 -84 years. They have the cleanest air and cleanest wate. Their state really cares about their people’s health as they have funding for health care.


28. Puffins

The famous puffin, yes the bird, resides in Iceland. During their mating season. The majority of the puffin’s population flies to Iceland and builds a family there. They have a sanctuary on the island of Drangey and Icelanders keep that place untouched.

29. Family Relations

Everyone in Iceland is somehow related. They can go online (Islendingabok) to see how they are related to a specific person.

30. Learning to Swim

It is obligatory for everyone from the age of 6 to the age of 16 to attend swimming lessons. Swimming classes are on everyone´s timetable at school. Kids start school at the age of 6 but some schools offer classes from the age of 5. Most Icelanders continue their education after the compulsory education (6 – 16). In Iceland you will currently find seven universities, offering a wide range of academic courses and degrees.