Fun facts and a brief history

Did you know you can follow the Icelandic police officers on Instagram!? How can you not already love this country just based on that?

On my first day in Iceland I signed up for a free walking tour of Reykjavik to learn about the little capital city (ok, town). Our guide who’s name I completely forget because there are about 13 syllables took us around for two hours and these are some fun facts that we learned: 

  • Reykjavik was settled by the vikings (around) 871. Those vikings (pirates) were mainly from Norway but also Denmark and Sweden. Along the way they raped and kidnapped English, Irish, and Scottish women. In the following picture the sign says 871 + or – 2 because there was some debate about the exact time…

 

  • There are NO native people; Norwegian man + English, Scottish, OR Irish woman = Icelandic baby.

  • The only known native species is an Icelandic fox that came over during the ice age.

  • There is no army, but there are three coast guard ships and two helicopters.

  • The U.S. military had stations there until 2006 due to 9/11.

  • The U.S. built the airport, which is about 45 minutes southwest of Reykjavik.

  • During WWII there were 55,000 American troops stationed there and the population of the whole country was only 112,000 at the time.

  • During WWII the U.S. supported them against Denmark; they were officially freed in 1944 because Denmark was occupied.

  • The current population of Iceland is 338,000 people with about 2/3 living in or near Reykjavik.

  • It’s one of the most feminist countries in the world and will (soon) be the first country to require equal pay by releasing everyone’s income.

 

  • It was the country with the first elected female president in the world (1980).

  • There is a database in which you choose your children’s names. You can’t just name your child a western name because you like it. It has to have an Icelandic meaning to it.

  • In the summer it can stay light for over 20 hours and in the winter it can be dark for over 20 hours. To see a timeline of daylight click here. While I was here in April it was light by 5AM and dark close to 11PM.

  • There are almost NO trees in Iceland. But each year they have a competition called “Tree of the Year” and this is the one that won in 2016. It is in downtown Reykjavik. 

20170423_154811

  • It is the MOST peaceful country in the world.

  • I asked if there are any homeless people in the country and the guide said, “Yeah, maybe about 6, but we just build them houses.”

  • The American Embassy is the only building in the country that has any form of security.

20170423_160355
The white building on the far left is their “white house”
  • There are seven political parties.

  • Hallgrimskirkja is an iconic church that was designed to look like a geyser. 70% of Icelandic people are Lutheran.

  • The national sport is a form of wrestling called Glima.

  • Five years ago about 3% of the population worked in tourism and today it’s about 25%.

  • The lava cleans the water making the drinking water some of the cleanest in the world.

  • Fermented shark is the delicacy dish.

  • Global warming has caused the glaciers to melt.

  • The polar bears from Greenland are making their way to Iceland and have to be shot so not to kill the little kiddos.

  • There are 120 active volcanoes and there are some that are overdue by 18 years and could erupt any day. In the past four months there has been a lot more noticeable activity. 

  • I met an Icelandic guy who had just traveled to Washington state and he said, “I was shocked by the very large trees. I get bored here in Iceland. I wish I could just live on a big farm in the states and sip moonshine.” I asked him if there was anything bad about Iceland because it just seems like this perfect utopia. He responded saying the politics are corrupt, but of course, that would happen anywhere.

For more history click here and for more fun facts click here.

***What do you do if you get lost in a forest in Iceland?***Stand up.***

5 thoughts on “Fun facts and a brief history

Add yours

  1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience! So proud of you for being brace enough to travel alone and being so thrifty!

    Like

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