Icelandic Fun Facts

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  1. Iceland was formed due to volcanic activity in the rift between the North American and European continents. (We actually stood on 2 continents at the same time; more about that later.) It is still volcanically and geologically active – in fact, the planet’s newest island just recently appeared in Iceland. Lava fields are everywhere and it looks like the moon.
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  2. Until the Norse moved to Iceland, the only creature on the entire island besides birds was the Arctic Fox. Pretty sure Iceland is Justin’s favorite country because there are no snakes.
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  3. As of right now, there are 320,000 people in Iceland (and 4 times as many sheep). 2/3 of the country lives in Reykjavík and the 2 neighboring cities. The majority of the rest live in a large city in the north. No one lives in the middle. 90% of the towns you see on an Icelandic map are composed of 3-5 homes. One town we passed was just, like, a broken down barn. I cannot stress this enough: it is so empty. People have an entire mountain range and waterfalls in their backyards with no neighbors in sight.
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  4. Because the inhabitants of Iceland only go back about 7 generations, everyone in the country is related somehow. The government recently introduced an iPhone app with the entire country’s genealogy. Meet a cute girl at a bar? Bump phones and make sure you’re not cousins before you make a move.
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  5. There are no last names in Iceland, at least not family names like ours. (The few that exist are Danes.) Everyone’s last name ends with either –dottir or –son, meaning “daughter of” or “son of”. Bjork’s last name is Guðmundsdóttir, meaning, “daughter of Guðmundur.” For this reason, the phone book is alphabetized by first names.
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  6. They are one of the most environmentally efficient countries in the world – 13th, I believe. Our hotel rooms required us to put a key in the wall in order for us to have power. Most cars run on hydrogen. Everyone recycles. No litter, no pollution. (And yet, TONS of graffiti.) The head of the Icelanic Electricians’ union? Guðmundur of “Guðmundsdóttir.”
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  7. Some cars run on garbage! Our driver to and from from the airport had one of these cars. The government rewards you by giving you free parking for an hour and a half anywhere you want. These cars have a tiny clock on the dashboard to time the free parking.
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  8. Icelandic continental breakfast: a huge spread of swiss cheese, salami, salmon, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes and cucumber – all sliced so that you can put them on pieces of toast. Usually bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns, yogurt and cereal were in the mix. If you really lucked out, heart-shaped waffles. One hotel had shot glasses of fish oil. (P.S. Popular dinner dishes include whale and puffin! We stuck to lamb and lobster. SO much lamb and lobster.)
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  9. The sun is out for the majority of the summer. In the north, it never sets at all during the month of June. The darkest I ever saw Iceland in May was a glowing dusk. We drank in Reykjavík until 1 in the morning and the sun was still up.
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  10. Much like St. Louis, the famous saying in Iceland is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.”
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