15 Amazing and Weird Facts About Iceland!
Do you want to know some crazy and interesting facts about Iceland? Read these and be amazed!
Iceland is an amazing country. So if you are coming to Iceland and you want to impress your friends and family with some knowledge, read these facts about Iceland!
You probably already have a bit of knowledge concerning the beauty and wilderness of Iceland, but I can guarantee you that you will be surprised at some of the facts about Iceland on this list!
Having made Iceland my home, I have learnt so many facts about Iceland which I had no idea about before. This is what I want to share with you today, 15 facts and trivia that you probably did not know about Iceland and which make Iceland an even crazier and more interesting place to visit!
Don’t miss my previous article on how, when and where to see the Northern Lights when in Reykjavik!
15 Facts about Iceland:
1. Beer remained illegal in Iceland until 1989!
Prohibition on alcohol took effect in 1915 making the consumption of beer, wine and all other alcohols. In 1922, Wine was then legalised, and in 1935 all alcoholic beverages over 2.25% were legalised apart from beer. It wasn’t until the 1st of March 1989 that the ban on beer was lifted, making the 1st of March the national beer Day.
Since then, Iceland has become home to some fantastic beer of all kinds, go try them with our very own Reykjavik Beer Tour!
2. Most of Iceland’s heating and electricity are served by its natural geothermal water reserves and hydroelectric power!
In Iceland, geothermal heating supplies an astonishing 87% of the nation’s housing. This valuable natural resource makes Iceland one of the world leaders in the renewable energy production of as well as the most eco-friendly, sustainable country in the world.
All this geothermal energy has given Iceland some great hot-springs to check out near Reykjavik! Why not let us show you and take you to the best natural hot-spring?
3. Home to the Northernmost capital in the World.
Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is the northernmost capital city of any sovereign state in the world. This fact means that it is also one of the best cities in the world to see the Northern Lights! So while you’re there, don’t forget to go on our northern Lights tour!
There are also many other great things to do whilst in the northernmost capital in the world, go check our various tours for some inspiration!
4. Iceland has only been in one war.
In a world where was is sadly much too current, you’ll be happy to know that Iceland has officially waged only one war. This war is called Þorskastríðið but known in English as the ‘Cod War’. This war was a conflict between Iceland and the United Kingdom over fishing grounds in the North Atlantic Sea. The war ended with an agreement between the two countries in which Iceland was victorious.
The seas surrounding Iceland are home to some amazing species, great and small, one of which you can go see on our Whale Watching tour!
5. The country with the most published books per capita.
Iceland loves books, and with a population of just over 300,000 people, it holds more writers and published books per capita than any other country in the world. Despite its small population, they have even received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955 following the great works of Halldór Laxness.
6. Records of Temperature.
Iceland, despite its location just below the Arctic Circle, has a very temperate (and unpredictable!) climate. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Iceland is -39.7 °C however, usually the Winters do not get as cold as its neighbouring countries such as Greenland and Norway.
The warmest temperature ever recorded in Iceland was 30.5°C at the Eastern fjords in 1939.
7. The 2nd Largest Island in Europe.
Iceland may look small on a map, and its low population may be deceiving, however, Iceland is the 2nd Largest Island in Europe after Great Britain! On the scale of the world, Iceland it the 18th biggest Island but also one of the youngest.
So whilst you’re here, there are endless experiences you can do such as:
8. Home to Europe’s largest Icecap.
It doesn’t have the word ‘Ice’ in its name for nothing. The Vatnajokull, with an elevation of 2110m, is Europe’s largest glacier. Its surface area is about 8,100 km² with an average thickness of 400m!
It is located on top of a very active volcanic region on the south coast of Iceland.
Did you know that while you’re in Iceland, you can go Glacier Hiking and Ice Climbing with us? Check it out here!
9. A volcanically active country.
Iceland is home to 30 to 40 active volcanic systems. The volcano called Katla, in the South of Iceland is the most active and is said to erupt on average every 60 years. The last big eruption from Katla was in 1918, which means it is slightly overdue!
The last big eruption in Iceland came from the almighty Fimmvorduhals and in Eyjafjallajokull glacier back in 2010 which caused considerable airline disruptions all across Europe.
10. The least-dense populated country in Europe.
We all know that Iceland is home to just over 300,000 people. However, due to this population being mainly concentrated within the Reykjavik region, this leaves the rest of Iceland with very few inhabitants. It is the most sparse population in Europe with less than 3 habitants per square kilometre!
The highlands of Iceland have such harsh access conditions that it remains unpopulated to this day.
This vast unpopulated land gives endless adventure opportunities, so why not check out all the great wild experiences we offer?
Photography by Guillaume Demerliac
11. A country of equality.
Iceland was one of the first countries to recognise same-sex partnership (1996) and legalised gay-marriage on 11th of June 2010 following a unanimous approved bill (49-0) presented by the government.
It is one of the countries with the highest equality rate between Men and Women and recently enforced a law making illegal to pay women less than men for the same job. This makes Iceland the 3rd best country to live in as a woman according to various studies.
12. Santa is not real in Iceland! … At least, not in the same way.
One of the facts I found most interesting, culturally, when I came to Iceland was the realisation that the face of Christmas is not Santa Claus like it is in a lot of other countries.
Instead, they have 13 Yule Lads, dropping presents in the Children’s shoes, during the 13 days leading up to Christmas.
The Yule Lads are from folkloric origins and were first linked to Christmas in the 17th Century. There were many more Yule Lads back then but due to their originally scary and disturbing nature, they have been re-thought to better fit the Christmas spirit!
13. There is only ONE mammal native to Iceland.
Although rare to see, the Arctic fox can sometimes be seen wandering around in the wilderness. The amazing thing about the Arctic fox is that it is the only mammal that is originally native to Iceland. Indeed, the arctic fox was native to Iceland even before the first Vikings set foot on the Island.
The other wild mammals now present in Iceland such as minks, rabbits and reindeer were all brought to Iceland by humans.
Another great animal to spot in Iceland is the gorgeous puffin, so why not book a Puffin watching tour with us?
14. It is illegal to own a pet Lizard in Iceland.
This is a very random fact about Iceland, and it totally took me by surprise. Iceland has made it illegal to own a pet lizard, snake or turtle. In fact, it is illegal to own any reptiles or amphibians. There are very rare few cases where people have been allowed to keep amphibian animals but due to its strict laws on the import of animals, you are very unlikely to see one, especially knowing that there are none in the wild there.
15. One of two places on Earth where you can see a continental split.
Þingvellir is a place located not far from Reykjavik. It is famous for its scenery, its large lake with clear waters, but it also holds very important geographical significance.
Given the title of a UNESCO site, Þingvellir is one of two places in the world (the other being in Africa) where two tectonic plates meet above the earth’s surface.
The continental split present in Þingvellir is between the North American and Eurasian plates. Interestingly, they move apart 2cm per year.
Þingvellir is a wonderful place to visit and is home to some of the clearest waters in the world! when you go be sure to book a snorkelling trip with us there!
And there you have it! Some of the best and most interesting facts about Iceland. In researching crazy facts about Iceland, I found no-end of them so let me know if you would like me to give you even more facts about Iceland!
And remember, if you found any of these facts amazing, there are fantastic tours that we can take you on for you to experience Iceland in all its amazingness! Check out our tours here!
If you know of any other facts that you think should have made the list, do tell us in the comments below! What is your favourite fact about Iceland?
Your travel guide,