31 Weird Facts About Iceland That Will Amaze You


I’m not the only person who has a bad case of the Iceland bug. It seems that nearly everyone I talk to has either been or wants to desperately visit this small island in the North Atlantic. There’s just something mystical about Iceland, something that grabs a hold of our collective travel souls and refuses to let go. I’ve been a couple of times and am already plotting my return visits; the allure is just too strong. Add to that the fact it’s a short and easy flight from both North America and Europe, and it really is the perfect destination for a quick getaway. In trying to better understand what makes it so special though, I uncovered some strange and weird facts about Iceland that I thought I’d share with everyone. If nothing else, I guarantee it’ll only make you love this fun but slightly odd country that much more.

Reykjavik, Iceland

  1. A majority of Icelanders believe in elves.
  2. At about 39,000 square miles, Iceland is small – close to the size of Ohio.
  3. There is a volcanic eruption every 4 years on average.
  4. There are no forests in Iceland.
  5. Beer remained illegal in Iceland until 1989.
  6. At 43.5 hours per week, they have the longest work week in Europe.
  7. The Icelandic language remains unchanged from ancient Norse. That means 1,000-year-old texts are still easily read.
  8. Babies in Iceland are routinely left outside to nap.
  9. There are no surnames or family names in Iceland – Icelanders use the traditional Nordic naming system, which includes a last name that is comprised from their father’s (or mother’s) first name with the addition of -dóttir (-daughter) or -son.
  10. 60% of the Icelandic population lives in Reykjavík.Stykkishólmur Iceland
  11. Iceland’s revenue from whale watching exceeds any income from whaling.
  12. Usually a temperate country, not too hot or cold, the highest temperature recorded was 30.5 °C (86.9 °F) at the Eastern fjords in 1939.
  13. Iceland had the first democratically elected female and openly gay Prime Ministers.
  14. Consumption of Coca–Cola per capita is higher than in any other country.
  15. But there aren’t any McDonald’s Restaurants anywhere in Iceland.
  16. In 2010 Iceland banned strip clubs.
  17. Roughly 85 percent of Iceland’s energy is from renewable resources, and well over half of that is geothermal alone.
  18. Icelandic horses display two additional gaits as compared to all other breeds.
  19. First names not previously used in Iceland must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee.
  20. Iceland was one of the last places on earth to be settled by humans.Blue Lagoon Iceland
  21. Icelanders watch more movies than any other nation.
  22. Iceland is home to one of the world’s oldest democracies; established in 930.
  23. In Iceland owning a pet snake, lizard or turtle is against the law.
  24. The country’s national sport is handball.
  25. Iceland does not have an army, navy or air force.
  26. Mosquitoes do not exist in Iceland.
  27. The Icelandic police don’t carry guns. Crime in Iceland is very low and violent crime is practically nonexistent.
  28. Per capita Iceland has the highest number of book and magazine publications and 10% of the country’s population will publish a book in their lifetimes.
  29. Icelandic telephone directories list Icelanders by first name alphabetically.
  30. In 2010, 97.6% of Icelandic population had Internet connection.
  31. Raw puffin heart is considered a delicacy.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

84 thoughts on “31 Weird Facts About Iceland That Will Amaze You”

    1. Depending on where you visit in Iceland, some do speak English but most speak Ancient Norse.

      1. Almost everyone in Iceland under the age of 50 speaks good English. The native language of people in Iceland is also Icelandic, it is similar to Old Norse but has still changed a fair bit from it.

  1. Hey Marshal,

    I just got back from Iceland so I feel I can answer a few of your questions. A strip club is a place where women take off their clothes for money and dance on stage. They do have martial arts. A friend of mine visited a martial arts studio there when she visited. They do have video games. When I was there I ate pizza, cheeseburgers, and cake so I can confirm they have all of those. The places that me and my friends stayed were equipped with many books but they were in Icelandic so good luck reading them! I used my credit card the whole time but did see plenty of paper money. We stopped at a few art galleries. I’ve never been to New Zealand, Germany, or Belgium but they didn’t seem too much different from people in the USA. I didn’t see anyone pick their noses but can’t say for sure that they don;t. :-)

  2. So !0% of the population write a book in their life time.I am thinking they would have very snall books because their vocab would be limited to Rock,water,boat whale,video,movie,magazine,seat,hot and cold and %^&& freezing )))

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