Iceland is becoming an increasingly popular place to visit. Everybody has their own reasons for visiting the land of fire and Ice, but we have compiled a list of ten reasons why Iceland is so special and unique.
10. Everybody is Related
Icelanders can trace their ancestry to the year 874 when Iceland was first settled. With Iceland being such a small and remote island, people only dated other Icelandic people back in the day. Icelanders have created a genealogy database called “The Book of Icelanders”, which covers the entire nation. That database is now online, so every Icelandic person can check how they are related to any other Icelandic person.
9. A lot of Icelandic people believe in elves
In a 2006 study of Icelandic people, 55,5% of participants said that elves either possibly exist, are likely to exist, or definitely exists. The Icelandic tales about trolls and elves are very old, but they still manage to live on through the years. Even though many Icelandic people are not certain that elves exist, most people are not willing to deny the possibility of their existence.
8. Iceland is the Most Peaceful Country on Earth
According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland is the most peaceful country on the planet. Iceland has no army, navy, or air force, and Iceland’s police officers do not even carry guns. The country has a very low crime rate, so low in fact, that mothers will leave their young children unattended outside sleeping in strollers while they go shopping or to cafes.
7. World’s First Parliament
The Icelandic national parliament (Althingi) was founded in 930 at Thingvellir. Althingi was the first parliament to be created in the world. Back in the day, the parliament was an outdoor assembly where Icelandic leaders decided Icelandic law. The parliament stayed in Thingvellir until the year 1798. Now Thingvellir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on historic and geologic criteria. You can go explore Thingvellir and its surrounding area in our Golden Circle Tours.
6. The Women´s Strike
On October 24th in the year 1975, Icelandic women decided to go on strike. The women were fighting for equal rights for the genders. Almost every woman in the nation refused to cook, work, or look after children that day. The country was not able to survive without the women, and the workforce was completely paralyzed. Five years later, Iceland elected a female president, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, who became the first democratically elected female president in the world. Today, Iceland has the smallest gender gap in the world.
5. Icelandic Phone book
Almost every single person that lives in Iceland, is in the Icelandic phone book. That includes everyone from politicians to celebrities. The phone book is alphabetized by peoples first names. The phone book does not only give up everybody’s phone numbers, but also their home addresses. Imagine being able to look up your state politicians in the phone book and stopping by their house for a visit. In Iceland, you can (but most people don’t).
4. Anybody can Walk up to the President’s Home
The president of Iceland lives on Bessastadir. His residence is only a few minute drive from the capital, Reykjavik. There is no security surrounding the presidential lot, and anybody can walk up to the president’s door and knock if they wanted to. Many people go there to take pictures, since this is very unique.
3. Icelandic People are one of the Happiest People in the World
According to the World Happiness Report, Icelanders are the third happiest people in the world. The World Happiness Report is based on GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and “everything else”. Icelandic people have managed to maintain their happiness levels even after the devastating economic crisis that affected so many in 2007.
2. Icelanders are great at sports
Iceland has only around 320.000 habitants, yet somehow Iceland manages to compete at the top level in so many sporting events. Iceland has a very large sport culture and have managed to achieve greatly in sports. Here are four examples of Iceland´s many achievements in the sporting world.
• Icelandic women have three times earned the title “The Fittest On Earth” when they landed in first place at the Cross-Fit World Championships.
• Iceland won silver in the 2008 Olympics in men´s handball.
• Iceland recently debut in the UEFA European Championship (Men´s Soccer) and managed to make it all the way to the quarterfinals. The women’s national soccer team also made it to the quarterfinals in 2013.
• Fanney Hauksdottir recently became the female youth world champion in bench press.
1. Icelandic Nature
One of the most special things about Iceland is its nature. It´s magnificent. Iceland has everything from volcanoes to geysers. Icelandic nature is so diverse and beautiful that it has inspired and influenced people for years. Here are some of the tours we offer if you want to see for yourself why Iceland is so special.