What you didn't know about Iceland
Iceland is fast becoming the little darling of the travel community. With a breath-taking landscape carved by glaciers and lava flows and a small population that retain strong ties to their Nordic history, Iceland is attracting more and more visitors every year.
Here you’ll find a fascinating language that seems to use an abundance of consonants in any given word, traditional dishes that will test even the most adventurous of us and a small community that’s big on environmental issues.
Today, we’ve got some fun facts that you may not know about Iceland and her people:
• Icelandic people take their folklore very seriously. A good majority of them believe in elves and trolls.
• The Vikings named both Iceland and Greenland, but here’s the funny thing. They deliberately switched the names to confuse their enemies. They called the ice-covered country Greenland, and the green country Iceland (where they settled) to throw their enemies off the scent.
• There are no forests in Iceland – mainly due to the Vikings decimating the forests completely.
• Iceland is one of only two places in the world where you can see two tectonic plates meet above the earth’s surface. They move apart around 2cm each year and you can swim or snorkel in the water that lies between them.
• You probably remember the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajӧkull in 2010 that caused huge disruptions to air travel across north and western Europe. Iceland is actually home to 125 volanic mountains, only a handful of which are active. The country experiences an eruption every four years or so, although they are becoming more frequent in recent years. A result of these eruptions is that a good portion of Iceland is covered in lava fields.
• Around 85% of Iceland’s energy is from renewable resources – over half of which is geothermal.
• The land mass of Iceland is just a little bigger than South Korea. But, population of Iceland is just 337,780 as opposed to 51.4 million in South Korea. • There are no “surnames” in Iceland. Instead, they follow the Nordic naming system where the surname is the person’s fathers (or mothers) first name with either dottir (daughter) or son added to the end. For example: the surname “Grimsson” means “son of Grimur”
• Any first names not previously used in Iceland have to be approved by the Naming Committee.
• The Icelandic language is still very close to the original language and early texts are still easily read today.
• Iceland has their own unique breed of horse, also introduced by the Vikings. It has two additional paces to the usual walk, trot, canter and gallop. • While the Icelandic people enjoy their coca-cola (the highest consumption rate anywhere in the world), they have to do without the McDonalds burger to go with it. There are no McDonalds restaurants in Iceland.
• Speaking of food, here are some traditional foods you might like to try: Fermented Shark, dried fish jerky, Sour Ram’s Testicles, dark rye bread, Puffin (yes, the bird), whale meat and sheep’s head. Perhaps it’s because of these menu choices that Hot Dogs are one of the biggest sellers in Iceland! (Don’t worry – if you’re cruising you don’t have to eat any of this if you don’t want to and you still won’t go hungry!)
• Iceland does not have an army, navy or airforce and police do not carry guns. In fact violent crime is near non-existent.
From a cruising perspective, you can cruise Iceland by itself or combine it with Norway or Greenland, or cruise from Iceland over to Scotland. There are several options depending on time and budget. If you book far enough ahead you can take advantage of extra savings such as Early Bird offers, or sometimes fly free deals so it pays to plan ahead.