50+ Interesting Facts About Iceland

  1. Iceland has the lowest population density in Europe and is also one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.
  2. In the 1960s, an island appeared in the North Atlantic Ocean (20 miles from the southern coast of Iceland) after an eruption. This island (named Surtsey) is still almost untouched by humans, as only a few researchers are allowed to enter here. (Source)
  3. Deildartunguhver Thermal Spring in Iceland is the most powerful hot spring in Europe, while the hot spring pipeline from this place to Akranes is the longest in Iceland. The towns of Akranes and Borgarnes get most of their water for central heating through this hot spring.
  4. A geyser (also named Geysir) in Haukadalur (Iceland) is the oldest known geyser in the world. The English word geyser is taken from this Geysir. (Source)
  5. Iceland has the highest usage of marijuana in the world. More than 18% of people in Iceland smoke weed.
  6. Icelanders watch more movies than any other country. The cinema attendance rate per capita in Iceland is 5.3. (Source)
  7. Iceland has the highest number of chess grandmasters per capita in the world. (Source)
  8. Iceland is almost entirely volcanic, with high volcanic activities. The island has around 30 active volcanic systems.
  9. The climate of Iceland is tundra, except for a few coastal areas.
  10. The Maelifell Volcano in Iceland is Europe’s 2nd largest and the 10th largest volcano in the world. This 1771 ft tall extinct stratovolcano erupted for the last time around 10,000 years ago.
  11. The coldest city in Europe is present in Iceland. Reykjavík has an annual temperature between 7 Celsius (high) and 1.9 Celsius (low). (Source)
  12. Iceland is one of the few countries in the world without mosquitoes. It is due to the chilly weather and the absence of breeding places for these insects. (Source)
  13. Iceland is one of just five countries that practice commercial whaling. (Source)
  14. Iceland has one of the cleanest drinking water in the world. It is mainly due to underground springs that provide 95% of the water in the country.
  15. Iceland has four waterfalls among the six best waterfalls in Europe.
  16. Before the arrival of humans, the arctic fox was the only land mammal in Iceland. 
  17. Iceland is the 2nd largest island in Europe. It is just behind Great Britain in the area.
  18. In 2010, the disruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland caused the world’s largest air traffic to shut down after World War 2. Due to this eruption, millions of passengers suffered in Europe and a few other parts of the world. (Source)
    Countries affected by volcanic eruption in 2010
    Volcanic eruption in Iceland caused the worst air traffic shut down in Europe

  19. Iceland has one of the lowest forested areas in the world. Only 0.46% area of Iceland is composed of forests. (Source)
  20. Forests were present in a vast area of Iceland between 5 and 15 million years ago. From 25 to 40% area of Iceland was covered with birch forests and woodland at the time of human settlement nearly 1150 years ago. (Source)
  21. Iceland provides a rare sight on earth. In a location, two tectonic plates (the North American plate and the Eurasian plate) meet above the earth’s surface. (Source)
  22. Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is the northernmost capital city in the world. (Source)
  23. Humans initially settled in Iceland in 874 AD. The first settlers in Iceland were small lords from Norway. These initial inhabitants of Iceland also discovered Greenland in 982 AD. (Source)
  24. Iceland’s national parliament (Alpingi or Althingi) is the oldest parliament in the world, founded in 930 AD. (Source)
  25. Vigdis Finnbogadottir was the world’s first democratically elected female president. She remained president of Iceland from 1980 to 1996.
  26. Iceland is one of the only eight countries with equal rights for men and women. (Source)
  27. An eruption of volcano “Laki” in 1783-1784 destroyed 20 villages and killed around 50% of livestock in Iceland. The resultant famine took the lives of nearly 25% of the whole Icelandic human population.
  28. Iceland has the longest working hours per week in Europe. Icelanders work for more than 44 hours a week. (Source)
  29. Iceland also followed other parts of Europe in the 17th Century for witch-hunting campaigns. But comparatively, almost all victims (21 of a total of 22) of this witch-hunting were men. (Source)
  30. Iceland is expanding at 2 cm per year due to the movement of North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in the mid-Atlantic ridge.
  31. Iceland is the only member country of NATO without having any standing army. (Source)
  32. Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world. (Source)
  33. Iceland has been declared the safest country in the world. It has maintained this top position for the last 12 years in a row. (Source)
  34. Life expectancy for men in Iceland is 81.2 years, which is the highest in the world. (Source)
  35. In 2018, Iceland became the smallest country in the world to qualify for the soccer world cup. (Source)
  36. Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland is the largest glacier in Europe. It covers an area of more than 8,100 km2. This glacier and its surrounding area are known as Vatnajokull National Park, which covers 13% of Iceland.
    Satellite image of Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland
    Europe's largest glacier is in Iceland

  37. In 2010, Iceland was declared the greenest country in the world. The status was due to its biodiversity, implementation of green energies, water usage, etc. (Source)
  38. Geothermal swimming pools are present in almost every town around Iceland. It gave rise to the tradition of public bathing in the country.
  39. Iceland is one of the world’s most atheist countries. The percentage of convinced atheists in the country is between 10 to 19%. (Source)
  40. Iceland has the highest number of writers, published books, and readers of books per head than any other country in the world. (Source)
  41. Iceland has one of the world’s highest rates of cars per capita. There are 745 cars for 1000 people in Iceland. (Source)
  42. Icelandic is the most conservative of all the Scandinavian languages. The Icelanders preserved their old language during Danish rule thanks to the remoteness of Iceland, the scattered population, and the use of this language for literary purposes. (Source)
  43. Students in Iceland must learn three languages during their school education. These include Icelandic, English, and any Scandinavian language. (Source)
  44. People can’t name their children on their own in Iceland. There is a 3-member committee that approves (or rejects) names given to children by their parents. (Source)
  45. Iceland fulfills most of its energy requirements (and whole electricity) through renewable sources of hydropower and geothermal.
  46. Iceland is one of the few European countries that provide free education for local and foreign students in public universities. The students only have to pay annual registration fees.
  47. Iceland is one of the few countries without a railway network. (Source)
  48. Latrabjarg in Iceland is the largest seabird cliff in Europe. It is 14 km long and 441 m high. (Source)
  49. Iceland is exceptional in the western world as it bans strip clubs and porn sites. (Source)
  50. Iceland has the largest banana plantation in Europe. But the production is comparatively low as the climate is not ideal for bananas.
  51. Halldor Laxness is the only Noble Prize winner from Iceland. He achieved this milestone in 1955.
  52. Iceland banned all types of alcoholic drinks in 1915. The complete lifting of the ban took place on 1st March 1989. The day is celebrated as Bjordagur (Beer Day) in Iceland yearly. (Source)


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