Top 40 Iceland Facts

1. Reykjavik is the northernmost capital in the world

2. Today, the Icelandic language resembles the Old Norse Language more closely than modern Norwegian.

3. Iceland is one of two places in the world where you can see tectonic plates separate above sea level.

4. Iceland has a volcanic eruption approx. every 3 years. In total, it has over 130 active and inactive volcanoes.

5. Iceland has the largest glacier in Europe (Vatnajokull).

6. Iceland had the first democratically elected female President and the first openly gay Prime Minister in the world.

7. Iceland is the most eco-friendly country in the world. About 85% of Iceland’s energy production is from renewable sources (hydropower and geothermal)

8. Iceland has a population of only 337,000 people. The country is about 11% larger than the state of Indiana but only has 5% of the population.

9. There are no dangerous animals in Iceland (just watch out for those sheep). Most importantly, there are no mosquitoes in Iceland.

10. Althing (national parliament of Iceland) is the oldest legislature in the world still existing.

11. Forests covered about 25-40% of Iceland at the time of settlement 1150 years ago. Despite some impressive reforestation efforts, today it’s down to less than 2%.

12. A large portion of Icelanders believe in the “Hidden People”, or elves.

13. Iceland has no McDonald’s restaurants

14. Iceland’s murder rate is 20x lower than the world’s average (3rd lowest rate in the world)

15. Iceland ranks #12 in the world for gun ownership (30 guns per 100 people)

16. A small part of Iceland (Grimsey island) actually lies within the arctic circle. The sun never sets there during the summer solstice.

17. Beer was illegal in Iceland until 1989

18. Icelanders put their kids in a stroller and leave them outside during their naps

19. Icelanders don’t use family names. People are either the “son” or “dottir” of their father. For example, Maria Thorsdottir is the daughter of Thor and Marius Thorsson is the son of Thor.

20. Tourism recently overtook fish processing as Iceland most important industry and the country’s largest export

21. Iceland is the world largest electricity producer per capita and the 11th largest producer of aluminum in the world

22. Strip clubs are banned in Iceland

23. The Icelandic horse has the ability to use two additional gaits

24. Iceland does not have a military of any kind

25. 10% of Icelanders will publish a book

26. Iceland (pop. 337,000) has twice as many public swimming pools as New York City (pop. 8.5 million). In fact, we have the highest number of pools per capita in the world.

27. The arctic fox is Iceland’s only native mammal

28. Icelanders have to give their kids a name from a list of “legal” names approved by the government

29. The famous Icelandic hot dogs include lamb meat

30. Iceland is the home of the only museum devoted to penises (Icelandic Phallological Museum)

31. The infamous Icelandic dish hákarl (shark) is poisonous when fresh, so it’s fermented in the ground until safe for consumption.

32. Iceland is not as cold as you think. The average temperature in winter is close to 2°C (36°F)

33. Iceland ranks consistently among the top 5 happiest countries in the world.

34. About 65% of Icelanders live in the greater capital region

35. Iceland has the most powerful waterfall in Europe (Dettifoss)

36. About 30% of Iceland is lava fields

37. Iceland has the longest workweek in Europe

38. The Icelandic national sport is handball, closely followed by Icelandic wrestling

39. Puffins are considered a delicacy in Iceland

40. Icelanders are the 3rd biggest coffee drinkers in the world