Iceland Facts

While visiting Iceland I learned some things that I had never known about this lovely destination before or hadn’t thought of and now I will share them with you!

1. The whole country of Iceland is only made up of 318,000 people and 200,000 of them live in the capital city of Reykjavik.

2. 12% of Iceland is covered in Glaciers.

3. Reykjavik means Smokey Bay name so because of the steam aka “smoke” that was rising from the land when the settlers first arrived.

4. Eyjafjallajokull is the name of the volcano that erupted in 2010 and is actually three Icelandic words added together. Eyja = Island Fjalla = mountain and Jokull = glacier.

5. Apparently I look Icelandic. I had 3 different people who were Icelandic ask me if I was too. (I have a personal goal of wanting to blend in like a local everywhere I go :)  )

6. Icelanders love skyr. Similar to yogurt but thicker and much healthier!

7. Icelandic glaciers or melting quickly. The Sólheimajökull glacial tongue receded 134 meters last year alone!

8. Iceland has some of the best salmon fishing in the world however it is also extremely expensive! There are also really odd rules about it like net fishing isn’t allowed between Friday night and Tuesday morning…. WTF?

9. The Mayor of Reykjavik is actually a comedian that was sick with the government and decided to run as a joke and called his party “The Best Party” but then won by accident with 40% of the vote. Before winning the election when asked what he would do if elected he said he would get a Polar Bear for the Zoo and make sure everyone got free towels at the public swimming pools. Promises he of course has yet to follow through on.

I’m serious, watch this video that helped him win, his rant at the end is worth it haha

10. About 90% of Icelanders believe in trolls, ferries, ghosts and other things alike. One of the tourist maps that I had while I was there actually had ghosts on the map that show where known sightings in the country were.

11. The Arctic Fox is the only native animal of Iceland.

12. All of the hot water in Iceland is heated geothermally and smells of sulfur. The cold water from the taps is excellent to drink and supposed to be really good for you but they don’t recommend drinking the hot water.

13. Iceland has mild winters and cool summers.

14. Some of the Icelandic language is similar to Danish as they were once a Danish colony.

15. There was a long period of time when beer was banned from Iceland and it was only allowed to be made for export until finally in 1989 it was allowed again. March 1st is now officially Beer Day in Iceland every year. Last year 340,000 cans of beer were consumed on that day and there are only 318,000 people in the whole country…

16. Iceland is where the two continental plates of North America and Europe come together. At the Blue Lagoon you are actually bathing between the two plates.

17. The word Geyser is actually an Icelandic word which means “to gush” and comes from a famous geyser called Geysir in Iceland.

18. Iceland had been growing in size for 17million years and grows about 10cms every year.

19. On average every 10 years there is a Volcanic eruption in Iceland. The volcano Katla which sits under the Mýrdalsjökull glacier hasn’t erupted in quite sometime but is predicted to erupt any day now and the scientists are predicting that it won’t be pretty when it does…

20. The American Astronauts first trained for walking on the moon in the crater like lava fields of Iceland.

21. Handball is Iceland’s national sport.

22. Iceland is known for its hot springs and geothermal pools. In Reykjavik there are quite a few public swimming pools that all have outdoor geothermal pools, definitely a must do in Reykjavik and a great way to actually hang out with the locals and do what they do.

23.The Clint Eastwood film Flags of Our Fathers was shot on the beach in a small town of 200 people called Vik in Iceland. However the story of the film “takes place” on an island in the Pacific. (I’m on that beach in the photo above.)

24. Only 1.4% of Iceland has trees.

25. The Iceland horse has a different gate than other horses in the world (runs differently). There are 200,000 Icelandic horses in the world however only 90,000 of them live in Iceland. Once an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland it is never allowed back to prevent the spread of disease.

26. Icelanders heat their homes geothermally and they also have a lot of greenhouses heated this way growing a lot of their vegetables. Iceland is the largest European banana producer.

27. The Hvalfjörður Tunnel outside of Reykjavik goes underneath a Fjord and is one of the longest underground tunnels in the world. The tunnel goes as deep as 541 ft below sea level.

28. In Iceland they have 13 Santa Clauses!! aka Yule Lads.

29. People generally don’t go out to bars in Iceland until 1am and often stay out until 7 or 8am.

30. The Icelandic flag is blue with a white cross and a red cross inside of that. The blue is for the sky and mountains, the white is for the glaciers and the red is for the volcanoes.

I hope you learned something about Iceland that you didn’t know before! :)


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  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Great post Cailin! Love these random facts and you have me missing Iceland already. :)

    • Reply
      May 5, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      I am definitely making a trip back there, maybe I will see you and Randy there too? :)

  • Reply
    April 28, 2011 at 1:07 am

    I had never known that fact before! But I think its pretty cool, I don’t know if I would want to come across any of those ghosts though!

  • Reply
    April 26, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Great facts. I knew many Icelanders believed in fairies, trolls and the like but I didn’t know it was that high. And I didn’t know they have them listed on maps, that’s so cool.

  • Reply
    April 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    #9 is the best fact EVER! That video was too good.

    • Reply
      April 28, 2011 at 1:06 am

      haha thanks Becky! I definitely would of voted for “The Best Party” if I lived there, how could you not!?

  • Reply
    April 26, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Wow, I actually learned a lot! Love that they believe in fairies and trolls. Also love that they celebrate an official Beer Day. Haha, awesome!

    • Reply
      April 28, 2011 at 1:05 am

      Thanks Amanda! Glad I could teach you a thing or two. I think it should be mandatory that every country celebrates an official beer day and it should maybe even happen more than once a year if I had my say in it :) You should definitely visit there sometime!

  • Reply
    Seattle Dredge
    April 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Oh nooo, I hope Katla doesn’t errupt before August! :D Well–ever again for that matter.. but that’s doubtful!

    I can’t wait to buy some troll dolls :]

    Also, one thing I’ve learned is that everyone’s last name ends in either dottir (daughter) or son in Iceland, along with their father’s first name. So I’d be Seattle Keithsdottir if I were Icelandic, haha. What would your name be?

    • Reply
      April 28, 2011 at 1:03 am

      I’m the opposite of you! I would love for the Volcano to erupt while I was there so I could see it – from a safe distance that is…

      I think I still have my troll dolls from when I was a little kid! hahaha

      If I was Icelandic (which many people thought I was) I would be Cailin Terrysdottir or Cailin Terrencesdottir haha long name!

  • Reply
    April 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Great facts! There was once a US Navy base on Iceland. I heard it was one of the best places to be stationed. Wish I could’ve been stationed there.

    I would love to see how you blend in amongst the locals in Japan, lol.
    When you take a shower in Iceland, do you smell of sulfer?
    Does Iceland brew its own beers?

    • Reply
      April 28, 2011 at 1:00 am

      I heard about the Naval base there, I am sure it would of been lovely but a bit cold :)
      True… I might not blend in in Asia so well… but its worth a try!
      The hot water coming out the shower tap smelled like Sulfur but I am not really sure if I did too afterwords….and I guess everyone would smell like it so maybe you wouldn’t know? haha After a while I got use to the smell and it didn’t bother me so much except for when it made me hunry… haha

    • Reply
      April 28, 2011 at 1:01 am

      oh and yes Iceland has various breweries that brew their own beer, stay tuned for the beer post coming soon and in the mean time read “How to get drunk in Iceland” to hold you over :)

  • Reply
    Erica @ Nonstop World Travel
    April 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Ok, the video and the trolls are hilarious. I guess I visited Iceland a few years too early. Great stuff!

    • Reply
      April 28, 2011 at 12:57 am

      haha Well there isn’t any reason that you can’t go back! The Mayor thing is new but the trolls have been forever! I was so excited when I saw them, the 90’s child in me wanted to buy one :) I will definitely be visiting Iceland again!

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