Here are a few fun facts about Iceland – The Land of Ice and Fire as told by our tour guide who looks and has the same sense of humour as James Corden. For context, there are about 333K people in Iceland – keep this in mind as you read through these fun facts.
You want more facts about Iceland? Here are 11 crazy facts about Iceland written by Kate over at Travel for Difference!
- There are only 300 police officers in the entire island nation
- It’s hard to find police anywhere in Iceland – they don’t patrol any major tourist sites, and during my stay, I’ve only seen 1 driving by in a motorcycle and not an actual police cruiser/car
- Police officers don’t carry gun. Or tasers. They only carry a mace / pepper spray.
- You can walk into the Prime Minister’s office just by walking in. It is a white building located at the end of a major tourist shopping street with absolutely no signage or security. Apparently a lot of tourists think the PMO (with its lack of guard and security) as being a tourist info centre, so they often wonder into the PMO asking for the bathroom.
- The only location in Iceland with any type of security is the US Embassy
- There are 6 political parties in Iceland – an island with 333K inhabitants
- 29 / 63 senate members are women
- Cost of utilities is some of the cheapest in the world – on average the cost of electricity + hydro + water is equivalent to $8/month
- Iceland produces 4x more geothermal energy than it uses (hydro, electricity), hence the insanely cheap cost of utilities.
- Iceland’s homogeneity means everyone in Iceland is somehow related to the other. The Book of Icelanders (which details family trees) makes it easy for Icelanders to trace their ancestry. You can read the Wall Street Journal Article on this here
- The most expensive cost for tourists and locals alike in Iceland is the food and/or grocery as most things are imported
- The last trees on Iceland died during the little Ice Age (end of 1300s) before being re-introduced in the 20th century with a mandated plantation program
- In the 1930s Iceland was one of the poorest nations in Europe
- There are only about 150 people in Icelandic “prison”
- Iceland was the only country to prosecute banking executives in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis so some of those 150 people are white collar criminals responsible for the banking crisis
- Gender equality in Iceland in ingrained in their DNA and inherited from the Viking Days. Supposedly 40% of Viking raiders of the time were women who had as much right to the loot as the men.
- Icelandic hot dogs are legendary for a reason. They are topped with fried and raw onions, plus a specialty mayonnaise sweet brown mustard and a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. They are also at every gas stations
- There are about 1.2M sheep in Iceland. That’s about 4 sheep per Icelander
- 2/3 of the Icelandic population live in the capital, Reykjavik
- The weather in Iceland is actually temperate and doesn’t go lower than -10C. However, the wind and rain are highly unpredictable making it a tricky place to pack for.
- You don’t need to buy a SIM card. There’s wifi everywhere, and if you really want wifi at your fingertips you can purchase a portable wifi that can be turned on/turned off at will. It comes with 10GB of data and costs around 1500 kr ($15)
- You don’t need to carry any cash, Iceland is a very plastic country meaning that credit cards are accepted everywhere, even the hot dog stands
- There aren’t any tall buildings in Iceland due to the frequency of earthquakes, and very strong winds.
- The tap water (cold water) is perfectly safe to drink. It’s pure glacier water
- The rotten egg smell from your shower / tap is from the sulfur in the geothermal plant which is used to heat up the water.
- There are heated thermal pipes under the main streets in Reykjavik which means that during winter the snow melts almost automatically
- Sheep roam free in Iceland and it is against the law to use any kinds of pesticide, or growth hormones. Icelandic meals are as organic, and free-range as they get. I mean, these sheeps are literally marinating themselves.
- Iceland has quite the coffee culture.
- Rainbows occur everywhere and so often in Iceland – it’s quite common to see double and triple rainbows during my road trips.
- The black sands at most Icelandic beaches came from volcanic ashes.
- There is a 70% tax on alcohol and tobacco so the cheapest place to buy alcohol in the country is duty free at the airport where you can expect to save around 40% of the list price in the city.
- Only 7% of the population smoke
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Have you been to Iceland?