We spent the whole winter in Iceland, and we love it, despite the fact that Reykjavik in the winter has only 4 hours of light. Besides sightseeing Iceland’s landscapes and museums, we spent lots of time in the local geothermal outdoor swimming pool, and we learn lots of interesting facts about Iceland. If you ever have a chance to visit this beautiful country you should, we had a great time in Iceland with kids.
Iceland Locations and History facts
Where is Iceland located?
Iceland is an island in Europe. It’s the 18th largest island in the world. Located below the Arctic Circle – approx 64 degrees North.
The red cross symbolises volcanoes surrounded by white snow and ice against the blue Atlantic Ocean. The cross in the flag symbolises the Scandinavian connection
Iceland was named by Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson. A Viking who arrived here in AD 865. The summer that year was very mild, and Flóki didn’t prepare himself or his livestock for the cold winter. All his livestock died. Unhappy Flóki climbed the highest mountain above his camp and saw a vast iceberg. He named the entire land Ísland or Iceland.
Iceland was one of the last places on earth to be settled by humans.
Reykjavik is a capital of Iceland and the largest city. Almost 36% of the whole Icelandic population lives in Reykjavik and 63% lives in the Capital Region (capital city and six municipalities around it)
Climate in Iceland
Because of the mild climate, Iceland is very green. Icelanders like to say that Iceland should be named Greenland and Greenland should be named Iceland.
Temperature and Weather in Iceland
Winters – the Icelandic winter is relatively mild for its latitude. The southerly lowlands of the island average around 0 °C in the Highlands of Iceland average around −10 °C
Summers – the average July temperature in the southern part of the island is 10–13 °C. Warm summer days can reach 20–25 °C
The weather changes all the time. Icelanders have a saying – if you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes and it will change.
Read about visiting Iceland in December and Northern Lights
Be careful who you are dating
With a population of 330,000 people on one island, almost everyone is somehow related to everyone else. You need to check who you kiss maybe it’s someone in your family. There is even an app to let you establish a family relationship or lack of it.
Is Iceland safe? – Violent Crime
Yes. It’s the safest country in the world. Iceland is so safe that it doesn’t have an army and policemen don’t wear firearms. On average there are only one or two murders a year. Statistically, there are 0.3 murders per 100,000 people per annum while in Los Cabos the figure is 111. Mental note: When we visit Mexico – keep away from Los Cabos
Iceland electricity and heating
Iceland has the highest electricity consumption per capita in the world. The average Icelander uses 12 times as much energy as the average Pole. The average power bill per household is about the same in both countries at around $100 per month. 100% of Iceland’s electricity comes from natural sources – about 73% from hydroelectric power and 27% from geothermal sources.
Geothermal water is used in public swimming pools, which are a favourite place for Icelanders to spend free time.
It is common to have under-surface heating below your driveway to keep it clear from snow.
On average, the country is populated by three people per square kilometre.
Icelandic People and their names and Icelandic Language
Family Names in Iceland?
Icelanders don’t have the last name (family name). Icelanders’ surnames are their father’s given name, appended with -son for a boy or – dottir for a girl. Women do not take their husbands’ names, because usually there is no such name to take.
Icelandic telephone directories list Icelanders by the first name alphabetically.
Icelanders call each other by their given names, even the president.
All new first names never used before in Iceland must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee.
What Language is Spoken in Iceland?
The answer is obvious Icelandic, though everyone speaks English as well. Because of Iceland isolation, the language has remained almost unchanged for a thousand years. It means that Icelanders can read old texts quite easily.
The English word geyser is derived from the Icelandic word geysir.
Animals in Iceland
Can you have a dog in Reykjavik?
Yes now you can, but dogs were forbidden in Reykjavík from 1924 until 1984. Dog ownership was banned to prevent transmission of tapeworm from dogs to humans. At the beginning of the 20th century, lots of people died from tapeworm associated diseases, and it was decided that dogs could be only kept on farms.
And what about Snake or Turtle?
It is forbidden to keep pet Snakes, Lizards, and Turtles.
Sheep in Iceland
The Icelandic sheep came to the country with first settlers from Norway in the 9th and 10th. Currently, it is illegal to import sheep to Iceland, Icelandic sheep is one of the purest breeds in the world. Sheep in Iceland is mostly bred for meat. There are more sheep than humans in Iceland.
Whales in Iceland
Commercial whaling is practised in Iceland (unfortunately), but Iceland makes more money from whale watching tours than from the whaling industry. When can you see whales in Iceland? Best time its from April to October, with peak time around summer. But Minke whale you can see in Iceland whole year. we saw whale n December, as whale watching tour operates the whole year.
Icelandic horses facts
Icelandic horses are one of the oldest and purebred horses in the world. Since 11th century no horses have been imported to Iceland. They display two additional gaits compared with the four used by all other breeds. Horses in Iceland are small – around 130-140 cm which everywhere else is considered as a pony, but Icelanders don’t like to call them that. Horses live outside all year and you can see them in lots of places.
The Arctic fox
The Arctic fox is the only indigenous land mammal in Iceland, probably arriving on ice floes long before human settlement. It thrives everywhere on the island.
Food in Iceland
What is the most popular food in Iceland?
Believe it or not its Hot Dog ( pylsur ). And Icelanders love lots of sauce on it, same as my husband. The most popular drink is Coca-Cola. This choice is much better than famous Fermented Shark which is uneatable by foreigners and stinks of ammonia. Read about other uneatable Icelandic Food
Icelanders drink more Coca-Cola per capita than any other nation in the world.
Skyr this delicious white dairy product may look like yoghurt but it is made with rennet so is technically a cheese. It is popular both in natural and flavoured varieties.
Icelander’s love of black liquorice
Icelanders love, and they may put it into almost every food. When you cook, and you think the flavour is missing something you might add extra salt. An Icelander would add liquorice or liquorice salt.
Water piped to Icelandic homes is very pure, it is not even chlorinated. Icelander are very proud of their clean water and my girls said it’s great because now they can drink water from the bath.
The beer was banned in Iceland from 1915 until it was legalised on 1 March 1989. Now each year on 1 March, Icelanders celebrate “Beer Day” . . . by drinking beer(!)
Other weird and disgusting food in Iceland
- truly disgusting Fermented Shark – Hákarl – one of the yukkiest food in the world
- even worse – Sour Ram’s Testicles
- eatable – Dried Jerky fish – Harðfiskur
- uneatable – Sheep’s head Svið
- revolting Slátur (Blood Pudding
- quite tasty traditional Lamb meat soup – Kjötsupa
- delicious Hot Spring Rye Bread
- even tastier – Traditional Lava Rye Bread
What is the nickname of Iceland? The Land of Ice and Fire.
Iceland has lots of glacier and volcanoes. Which gave her a nickname the land of Ice and Fire. I could add and waterfalls.
Vatnajökull glacier is the largest glacier in Europe. It is actually larger than all the other glaciers in Europe combined.
Volcanoes in Iceland
Iceland is home to around 130 volcanoes. Thirty of which are active. The last volcanic eruption Eyjafjallajökull was in April 2010 – Even though classified as “small”, it caused disruption to air travel across Europe for six days.
The most active Iceland’s volcano is Hekla, and it is also a trendy female name in Iceland.
Waterfalls in Iceland
There are over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland. Some very famous and easily accessible like Gullfoss (on the Golden Circle), Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss located on the south coast of the island just off the Ring Road
There are as well many others like Rjukandi or Hjalparfoss which is a bit away from tourist routes
Tectonic Plates in Iceland
Iceland is located across two tectonic plates – The Eurasian and the North American. And at Þingvellir National Park on the Golden Circle, you can see the cliff edges of both plates facing each other across the site of the first parliament in the world. These cliffs are moving apart at a few cms per year, and new rifts open up every few decades.
The bridge between Europe and North America
Believe it or not, In Iceland, on Reykjanes Peninsula (close to Kevfalik airport) you can cross the bridge between Europe and North America. More exactly it’s a bridge connecting Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. After crossing you can get a personalized certificate at the Reykjanes information center.
The most popular tour in Iceland is the Golden Circle tour. The most popular attraction is The Blue Lagoon.
Christmas in Iceland
Instead of Santa, the thirteen Yule Lads who bring presents to children. To get a present you need to leave your shoe on the window.
Iceland New Year
Icelanders go crazy with fireworks for the new year. And we have just seen it. Fireworks were everywhere for at least 1 hour. I believe it was the biggest fireworks i have ever seen, and we have seen crazy fireworks in Dubai and Berlin. The average Icelander man woman and child uses between 1,5- 2 kg of fireworks per annum. And that statistic would include people like me who have never bought fireworks in their life.
Fun Facts about Iceland
You cannot sell knickers, boxers, thongs, and jockstraps with the Icelandic flag on them.
Iceland has the only artificially heated ocean beach.
There is a penis museum in Reykjavik (capital city)
Per capita Iceland has the highest number of book and magazine publications and 10% of the country’s population will publish a book in their lifetimes.
100% of Icelandic population has an Internet connection, but more than 50% Icelanders believe in elves.
In Perlan (Reykjavik) you can visit a man-made ice cave which is constructed from ice mined from a real glacier.
McDonald’s doesn’t exist in Iceland.
Strange and Interesting Facts About Iceland – Conclusion
Iceland is a small, beautiful and extremely interesting place, which we all grown to like it. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. All the info in this article is taken from various sources on the internet – links below. All statistics and numbers are taken from Wikipedia.
Future Read About Iceland
Iceland is great place to visit all year even when the day are getting shorter. You can visit Iceland in November and have great fun in there. Iceland can be more challenging with extremely short days, but we spent Winter in Iceland and we loved it. Read here If you want an inspiration for self-driven Itinerary around Iceland.