You may have heard of the Blue Lagoon, the Northern Lights, and those damn cute Icelandic ponies, but there’s plenty of things about Iceland that remains a mystery. Impress your fellow travellers with these most random and remarkable facts about Iceland – the Land of Fire and Ice.
1. There are no mosquitos in Iceland.
Seriously… None! The country’s lack of buzzing biters remains a mystery to scientists the world over, with mosquitos populating neighbouring countries like Greenland and Norway with gusto. One thing’s for sure though, the locals certainly aren’t missing much.
2. There are no McDonalds’ either – the chain shut their last Iceland restaurant in October 2009.
This one definitely hits home more than the lack of mosquitos. The locals have recognised this significance of this sombre event – with the last McDonald’s burger ever sold in Iceland currently on display at the Bus Hostel. The hostel even has a webcam live streaming Iceland’s last McDonald’s meal as it decays! Check it out here. McCreepy.
3. Beer was illegal in Iceland until March 1st, 1989.
Despite wine and spirits being reintroduced following the nationwide ban on all alcohol just over a century ago, beer remained illegal in Iceland until the late 20th century. According to historians, officials feared that, as beer was cheaper than wines or spirits, legalising it would lead to a big rise in alcohol abuse. Subsequently, it was only until March the 1st in 1989 that Icelandic locals could finally legally order a pint. Today March 1st is celebrated annually as Bjordagur (Beer Day) across Iceland. If you’re looking for a party, this is a great time to visit Reykjavik.
4. Iceland’s Government was the first democracy to elect a female president.
5. Iceland is nicknamed the land of fire and ice.
The fact that icy glaciers, geysers and active volcanos cover the country should give you a clue as to why.
6. The colours in Iceland’s national flag represent the country’s landscape.
The blue colouring in the flag depicts the water and the mountains, the red represents fire and lava, and the white marks the country’s snow and ice. The flag’s cross design is a distinct feature seen in many Nordic flags.
7. Midnight Sun is a thing here.
A natural phenomenon occurring in many places north of the Arctic circle or south of the Antartic circle, the term ‘Midnight Sun’ describes the occurrence when the sun remains visible even at midnight. Iceland’s summer months welcome 24 hours of daylight – meaning you get optimal time for topping up your tan.
8. First name terms.
In telephone books in Iceland, people are listed in order of their first name, rather than their surname.
Indeed, say goodbye to Mr and Mrs on your Icelandic trip, locals here don’t usually tend to address each other by their surnames. Even in formal or official circumstances, first names are still primarily used.
9. Iceland is evolving.
As the last country in Europe to be settled in, Iceland remains the youngest country in the world. Rising out of the North Atlantic only 25 million years ago, Iceland is ever-changing and evolving before our eyes, with many volcanic eruptions paving the way for new landscapes and species. The country’s newest land, Surtsey, rose from the sea in 1963 after an underwater eruption occurred off the south coast. Parts of Iceland are still so rugged that it was chosen as a training ground for American astronauts before they journeyed to the moon.
10. Pet peeves.
Owning a pet snake, lizard or turtle is illegal here, sorry folks! The reasoning for the ban is still unclear, but some suggest it’s because a pet turtle gave it’s owner salmonella in the 1990s, sparking fear that reptiles and amphibians could infect the island nation.