Iceland is now on most people’s bucket list – and with reason. The land of fire and ice is like no place else on earth. Here are some fun facts I picked up during my first visit there:
10. Iceland is home to the largest glacier in Europe – Vatnajökull.
9. The word ‘foss’ means waterfall so anytime you see a place that ends in ‘foss’ you know it’s a waterfall (Gulfoss, Dettifoss, Selfoss, etc…). There are more than 10,000 named waterfalls in Iceland.
8. The population is just over 320,000 with 2/3 living in the greater Reykjavík area. This means there are more sheep than people in Iceland (about twice as much).
7. Vík means ‘bay’ so when you see it as part of a place name, you know it’s in a bay (eg. Reyjavík, Keflavík, Vik í Myrdal, etc…).
6. The word ‘geyser’ (a spring characterized by intermittent discharge of water ejected turbulently and accompanied by steam) comes from a place in Iceland named Geysir. Most people visit this place on the famous Golden Circle Tour.
5. Iceland is a popular spot for filming movies and tv shows because of it’s varied and rugged landscape, including Game of Thrones, a couple of 007 movies, Prometheus and one of my faves The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
4. The last 2 Great Auk (a large, flightless bird) were found in Iceland and became extinct in the mid 19th century. Now you can find puffins and many other birds during the summer months, including the pink-footed goose.
3. Iceland is home to the very first parliament in the world – in Thingvellir (also part of the Golden Circle Tour).
2. Geothermal heating meets the heating and hot water requirements of approximately 87% of all buildings in Iceland and 73.8% of the nation’s electricity is generated by hydro power. Only 0.1% is produced from fossil fuels.
Finally, 1. Many Icelanders believe in elves and trolls (Huldufólk). At first, I couldn’t quite believe this but after reading about it, watching a film about it on my Iceland Air flight, but most importantly, seeing the beauty of Iceland and feeling how alive the land is (thanks to it’s geothermal activity, volcanoes and glaciers), I too felt this place was magical.
If Iceland wasn’t on your bucket list before, I hope it is now!