Iceland is one of the world’s most magical places with its ancient lava fields, towering fjords and mighty waterfalls. There’s lots to love about the gorgeous Scandinavian gem from the unique local culture to the otherworldly landscapes and overflow of folklore and mystery. Whether you’re planning to visit or are just curious, here are seven interesting facts about Iceland.
7 of the Most Interesting Facts About Iceland
1. More than 60% of Icelanders live in Reykjavik
It’s no surprise that Iceland’s countryside is incredibly remote but to what degree may surprise you. More than 60% of the population lives in the capital of Reykjavik, which also holds the title for the most northern capital city in the world. Thanks to this, the Icelandic wilderness is incredibly rural. Especially since the entire population of Iceland is just a smidge over 355,000 or just 4% of the population of London alone.
2. Iceland was one of the last places on earth to be settled by humans
It may come as a surprise given Iceland’s rich Viking history and plethora of ancient pagan sites, but the northern Scandi nation was one of the last places on earth to be settled. Just 1,100 years ago Vikings sailing from Norway happened upon Iceland by happenstance, and the rest is pretty much history. This makes it You know what they say – save the best for last.
3. Iceland has a thing for reading
If you’re a bookworm, then your paradise may lie in Iceland. Turns out Iceland has more writers, more books published and more books read per head than any other nation on earth. In the population of 356,000, one in ten people will publish a book at some point in their life and that Icelanders read on average 2.3 books per month.
4. Iceland is one of the greenest nations on earth
Recently Iceland ranked as one of the most eco-friendly nations on earth; which isn’t surprising given over 99% of electricity production, and nearly 80% of total energy production comes from hydro and geothermal power. The capital city of Reykjavic has even bagged the Nordic Nature and Environment Prize. And they’ve no plans on slowing down either. Reykjavic is currently working on becoming completely carbon-neutral by 2040.
5. More than 10% of Iceland is glacier
According to this study, roughly 11% of Iceland’s surface is made up of glacier – around 400 distinct glaciers, in fact. That 11% also includes the mighty Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest and most important ice cap. This brings the term “land of fire and ice” to a whole new level, especially given that Iceland is technically a volcanic island.
6. Iceland is full of volcanoes
Most people know that Iceland is a volcanic island, but did you know that there are more than 100 volcanoes on the island? With a landmass of just 103,000 square kilometres, roughly the size of Kentucky, that’s really saying something. Thanks to the 130 volcanoes peppered across the nation, Iceland has its famous lava fields and otherworldly appearance.
7. Iceland has its own beer day
Following a 1908 referendum, Iceland banned beer from 1915 – 1989. In commemoration of the ban being lifted, Iceland celebrates “Beer Day” on the first of March every year. Beer is also now the nation’s most popular drink, and the craft beer scene is one of the fastest-growing in Europe. Icelandic breweries are quite creative too, with some using geothermal energy to fuel their brews.