Iceland really is one of the most intriguing countries I’ve been to so far. From the moment I landed on this tiny island, there were things that completely captivated me; from the landscapes to the people, this place really is like no other.
Iceland facts are some of the most fascinating I’ve ever heard, I think you’re going to like them too!
99% of Iceland’s surface is made up of Volcanic Rock
Due to Iceland being smack bang in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the country is subject to extreme volcanic activity causing lava to erupt an average of every 5 years.
Due to its location between the tectonic plates, geologic activity forced pockets of lava to rise to the ocean floor, cool on the fresh air and form an island that is now suitable for the happy humans we call, Icelanders. The country has close to 200 volcanos; every time they erupt, more lava flows on the surface, dries in the air and more land is created.
Iceland’s crazy surface, carved landscapes and rocky ground cause only 20-25% of the island to be habitable to humans. Crazy huh?
Iceland is basically tree-less
As soon as we began our descent into Iceland and saw the landscape for the first time, I realised that all the rumours were true. There are no trees… In fact, there are only 2 small forests in the entire country. When driving around the ring road, I think we only saw a small bunch of trees, and they were in someone’s backyard.
The country was originally covered in fauna, but due to unchecked sheep grazing, volcano activity and logging for fuel/building materials, they were quickly wiped out. Now that the country is nothing but rock, growing the trees back is close to impossible.
There are no Polar Bears in Iceland, but they sometimes float from Greenland
Contrary to popular beliefs… There are no Polar Bears in Iceland. Yes, it’s so close to the Arctic that “there just has got to be Polar Bears!”
Unfortunately not! They are occasionally spotted in the area due to being stranded on a floating iceberg that departed from Eastern Greenland. But they are certainly not native.
Per capita, Icelanders watch more movies at the cinema than any other nation
You read that right ⏤ Per person, the people of Iceland go to the cinemas more than any other country in the world.
To put that into perspective, the population of Iceland is 323,000, coming in second place is the USA with a population of 383 million. Each person in Iceland goes to the movies 5.1 times per year, which is almost double the average of western European countries.
This is said to be due to the artistic culture of Iceland; they also have the most artists, musicians and creative writers per capita too.
90% of all energy in Iceland is renewable
Again, due to Iceland’s location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, its extremely active geothermal activity makes it one of the most renewable countries on the planet. 80% of hot water demands are geothermal powered, 100% of electricity production comes from renewable sources too ⏤ 75% hydropower and 25% geothermal power.
These methods of energy production are not only renewable but also 100% free of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world.
The majority of the population believes in Elves
These elves are not those you would generally associate with Santa Claus. Icelandic elves are said to live and appear much like a human. There have been many cases where elves have become very upset due to construction being built, and roadways running through their land. Tales have been told that those who try and build in their territory are subject to extreme misfortune.
Whilst reports claim that only a quarter of the population truly believes in Elves, 80% are sceptical and are open to the possibility.
Mothers are restricted to naming their child from a Registry List
Unfortunately for Icelanders, they are unable to name their children Honey, Heaven or Twinkle – like Americans and Australians enjoy doing. They are limited to the names from a registry list that has previously been used in Icelandic culture; that fits the language, gender and Icelandic grammar appropriately.
Those that want to challenge the books are required to submit their name for approval before they’re able to name their child.
Iceland is one of only 3 European countries without a McDonalds
McDonald’s closed its last Iceland restaurant in 2009. Due to the country being in a state of chaos at the time, they shut the doors on the fast-food restaurant and said goodbye. A local man bought the last ever cheeseburger meal the day before the closure, but not to eat… Instead, he kept the meal in his garage for a year after hearing rumours that these ‘delicious’ burgers do not decay.
After a year of it sitting in his garage (with no changes might I add) he donated it to the Bus Hostel in Reykjavik, where it is still intact almost 7 years later. The hostel has even set up a webcam, so that you – sitting on the other side of the world ⏤ can view the last ever Iceland McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries, from your very own home.
Sheep population doubles the number of humans
There are 323,000 people in Iceland.. and 800,000 sheep.
When on our road trip around the country, we wouldn’t have gone 500m without seeing a sheep or 50. They really are everywhere, the locals are starting to get worried about an upcoming take-over.
It’s illegal to sell underwear with the Icelandic flag on it
This would be such a shame for us Aussies. White Australians love to parade around in tiny speedos covered in the Australian flag…
Some other very important things to know about Iceland is that at one point having dogs as pets was illegal ⏤ ridiculous huh? It’s illegal to adopt a family surname, to have a pet snake and at one point you were unable to drink beer.
The strict rules on the flag are still in place; selling any product with the Iceland flag on it that may insult, upset or damage the country’s reputation is strictly forbidden.
Iceland is the only country in the world that doesn’t have Mosquitos
There are 3 places around the globe that have no mosquitos; Iceland, Antarctica and the Faroe Islands, but Iceland is the only country. There are a few reasons for the lack of mozzies (that I’m sure no one is complaining about), those being the variable conditions throughout the year, the lack of nesting space and that they possibly haven’t reached the soil.
As I said, I don’t think anyone is complaining!
If you’re wanting to read some more facts about Iceland, check out Landlopers list.
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Hi there Kate! Number 6 we might take with a grain of salt! 🙂 Here are more quirky facts about Iceland, some less known than others!