Are the Icelandic people strange ? In fact “strange” for you doesn’t have to be “strange” for me. Am I right ? But we can agree on one thing, Iceland, like any country, has some odd, peculiar things about it and it’s inhabitants.
Have you heard about Icelandic believing in elves? When you see the landscape you can’t blame them. There’s just something mystical about Iceland, something that grabs a hold of our collective travel souls and refuse to let it go. I’ve been trying to understand for more then year and half what makes Iceland so special. And still trying. I undiscovered some strange and weird facts about Iceland that I thought I’d share with you. If nothing else, it will only make you to love this fun but slightly odd country even more. For example like I do.
- There is no surnames or family names in Iceland. Majority of Icelanders people have a last name that is comprised from their father’s (or mother’s) first name with addition of “-dóttir (daughter) or “-son”. This also means they call everyone by their first name. Using titles such as “Mr”, “Mrs, “Miss”or “Dr” is not common either. So, don’t get offended.
- Even tho this remote island had all conditions to be the most undeveloped place one the earth, Iceland for sure isn’t the one. The Althing, the National Parliament was founded in 930 at Pingvellir. One of the world’s oldest democracies.
- Babies in Iceland are routinely left outside to nap. You heard ti right ! It’s a common sight to see mother and fathers meeting up with their friends in cafés and catching up on the latest gossip. But they will sometimes leave baby in the peak outside the café, where they can watch it through the window. That way the baby won’t wake up form the hustle and bustle of the café – and the fresh air will do it good. And on Iceland it’s perfectly safe.
- There is no forests in Iceland. But there is many other exciting landscapes like geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, volcanos, valleys and endless stretches of black sandy beaches. For activities you can go hiking, biking, snowmobiling, kayaking or just soak in the hot spring. The options are almost endless.
- The geyser Geysir (where the name comes from), was the first geyser to be described in a printed source, and the first known geyser in the world. It’s been active for around 10 000 years. Geysir is quite “old” and “tired” so rarely erupts anymore but near is a Strokkur which is still active and make up a part of the popular tourist route The Golden Circle.
- Iceland is the only nation that put top finance executives behind bars after the 2008 crisis. 27 bankers in total are serving prison sentences. They spend their days doing laundry, working out in the jailhouse gym, and browsing the Internet. They can even walk outside because they were convicted of nonviolent crimes. Luxury life for prisoner but in most of the countries they live happy in their mansions. Way to go Iceland !
- Beside those in jail Iceland has some cool political figures that are popular and known all over the world with their interesting lifestyle and public appearance. Former Reykjavík major, actor, comedian, punk rocker Jón Gnarr, won the elections in 2010 and since then he has been featured and written about all over the world, for his eccentric and fun style and mainly because he always dresses up in drag for Gay Pride. And let’s not forget a Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir first openly declared lesbian prime minister in world . Again Iceland you did it.
- For a country where the inhabitants love their alcohol, it comes as a surprise that beer was banned in the whole country up until the 1st of March 1989 (close to date of my birth ). As a consequence, people still “celebrate” the 1st of March each year by drinking a few pints of this liquid gold.
- Nudity is very normal thing in Iceland. So it is as well in many others Scandinavian countries. Icelandic people don’t hesitate to strip naked and shower with other people before entering the public swimming pools. They are also bathe naked in hot springs and jump naked into the sea. If they go to business trip it’s usual to get naked and hammered with you co-workers and then show up ready for work the next day. Why not ?
- And there aren’t any McDonald’s restaurants anywhere in Iceland. Can I please get a citizenship so I can die there.
If you are not convinced to visit this strange country after this you probably have some issues. Not kidding at all.
Let me know if you know some other “strange” things about Iceland which I missed. Would love to hear all about it !
Feel free to comment and share you stories.