Whether you want to learn more about Iceland before you visit or just brush up on your general knowledge, you’ve come to the right page.
Iceland is a land of mystery and intrigue, ensuring there are plenty weird, wild and wonderful facts for us to share with you.
If you are travelling to Iceland it’s always nice to be prepared before you visit a new country and immerse yourself in a different culture. So we hope this article helps give you a good overview of Iceland!
Fortunately for you, the Icelandic people are incredibly easy-going and the country is incredibly beautiful, so no matter how much you brush up you’ll have a great time!
Still, here are ten things you might like to know before embarking on your trip:
Ten Facts You Need To Know About Iceland
The population of Iceland is just 331,000 people, making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe.
1/3 of the population lives in Reykjavik. So if you’re looking for the perfect, remote getaway it’s time to visit the Icelandic countryside!
Iceland measures 39,000 square miles. As way of comparison, England measures 50,342 square miles.
It would be amiss to think we could summarise the history of Iceland in a paragraph, there are plenty of books that barely do it justice.
One thing to know is that the history of Iceland is rich and intriguing. That’s despite it being one of the last countries to be settled on Earth, which occurred around the 9th century.
Fast Fact: The “Althingi” or Icelandic parliament dates back to the 10th century and the Viking Era. The caves in which they met can be explored through our caving tours.
The only mammal native to Iceland is the Arctic Fox. Marine mammals populate the coastline, such as Humpback Whale, Minke Whale, Fin Whale and seals.
Reindeer were imported in the 18th century and can be found wild in East Iceland. The Icelandic horse was brought across by the island’s Viking settlers.
*There are no polar bears in Iceland.
Despite 12th century writings that referred to Iceland as covered from ‘mountain to shore’ in trees, you won’t actually see many in Iceland.
Trees were chopped down for firewood and timber over the centuries to come. While harsh winters and volcanic activity ensured trees could not take root.
Whilst Iceland only has one real forest, Hallormstadaskógur, the country now plants more trees per head of population than any other nation in the world.
Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland as it can damage delicate flora. It is a strictly enforced law and carries a hefty-fine as punishment.
Be careful if you’re planning to rent a car and do your research before embarking on your journey. It’s safer to ride in a super jeep!
- Icelandic Names
Icelanders use a Nordic naming system, in which sons and daughters may derive different surnames.
IcelandAir offers this helpful example:
“A man called Haraldur Magnusson and his wife Helga Jonsdottir might have a son called Petur whose final name would then be Haraldsson, and a daughter called Ingibjörg Haraldsdottir.”
- Icelandic Cuisine
The mainstays of the Icelandic diet include lamb and a variety of fish and seafood.
The Arctic waters surrounding the island offer bountiful amounts of fish with cod, lobster, haddock, salmon, monkfish, herring and skate, readily available in Icelandic restaurants.
More unique delicacies may include reindeer, puffin, whale and fermented shark.
American chef Anthony Bourdain once referred to the latter as the worst thing he’s ever tried… Maybe stick to the lamb!
- Iceland Is The Youngest Country In The World
Iceland is formed from Volcanic eruptions that are still taking place today. Meaning that Iceland is quite literally evolving all the time.
The youngest part is an island called Surtsey which formed as a result of an underwater explosion in 1963.
Beer may have remained illegal in Iceland until 1989 but, don’t worry, there are plenty of breweries in Iceland now.
With the summer sunlight ensuring it’s bright enough to read a book at 2am, you can sit and enjoy the sunlight in a hot tub till the early hours.
More avid party animals can venture to Reykjavik where there are plenty of excellent bars and nightclubs.
The world’s most eco-friendly festival, Secret Solstice, is held annually in Iceland and welcomed musical luminaries such as Deftones, Radiohead and Iceland’s own Of Monsters and Men this year.
If you have any questions or would like to book a tour or learn more about Iceland, feel free to contact the team!