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Looking for facts about Iceland? It’s a Nordic country, which is also known as the land of fire and ice, thanks to its diverse landscape and nature. It is a relatively young nation since it was first inhabited by Vikings from Norway in the late 800s.

Here are 25 interesting facts about Iceland along with some general information that may be useful to know.

1. Hot dogs are sold almost everywhere

Hot dogs are the most popular food in Iceland and there are hot dog stands in almost all cities. Sausage is called “pylsa” in Icelandic. It’s a common fast-food in Iceland, and a great option if you want a quick and cheaper lunch. 

pylsur

Photo: Marcin Kadziolka / Shutterstock.com

2. Virtually all energy comes from renewable energy sources

Icelanders get basically all its electricity and heat from geothermal water sources and hydro-electricity.

3. Icelandic family names are unique

In Iceland, the common surname will be determined by the father’s name combined with the suffix “son” if you are a guy or “-dóttir” if you’re a girl. If one’s father is called Eirik, would thus his son be named Eirikson and the daughter would be named Eiríksdóttir.

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In other countries, you usually inherit the surname of the family.

Icelandic family

Photo: Shutterstock

4. There are no mosquitoes in Iceland

Thanks to Icelandic climate, there are no mosquitoes. A fun fact about Iceland that has led many to believe that it’s an insect-free place on earth.

Unfortunately for those people, there are other kinds of insects that can bite and cause a rash, although there are no mosquitoes. It’s not something you typically have to worry about though. 

5. Home to Europe’s first parliament

Already in 930, the first parliament (Althing) was gathered in Thingvellir National Park, which is now included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

If you’re a fan of democracy this might be one of the most interesting facts about Iceland. 

Thingvellir National Park

Photo: Shutterstock

6. About 60% of Icelanders live in Reykjavik

Iceland is a large country if you compare how few people actually live here. It is not uncommon with cities that have less than 3000 inhabitants. But in terms of real size, it’s a small country, at the same size as the US State of Ohio. 

It takes just about 1 day to circumnavigate the island. Reykjavik is the most populated city with about 60% of Iceland’s population.

7. Until 1989, beer was banned

Nowadays, however, there’s a fairly wide selection of microbreweries and beer is of strong interest among many Icelanders. It is easier to find unique beers than the more traditional drink that Vikings drank, also known as mead.

Icelandic beer

Photo: Shutterstock

8. There are no Mcdonalds in Iceland

However, one can find both KFC and Subway, as well as a couple of Icelandic fast food outlets. A rather interesting fact about Iceland, since Mcdonalds is virtually everywhere in the world, + Icelanders have one of the highest consuming of Coca-Cola.

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9. A volcanic eruption about every four years on average

When you consider that Iceland’s nickname is often referred to as the “land of fire and ice”, it is perhaps not surprising that there are relatively frequent eruptions in Iceland.

In fact, on average, there’s at least one eruption every four years.

Volcano eruption in Iceland

Photo: Shutterstock

10. The Icelandic language is almost unchanged

Icelandic is the language that is most similar to the language of the Vikings. In fact, very little of the language has been changed and therefore it is still quite easy to read ancient writings.

11. Sheep’s head is a traditional Icelandic dish

Are you ready for the Icelandic cuisine? One of the most traditional foods in Iceland is the dish made with a Sheep’s head. 

One of the many interesting facts about Iceland and the Icelandic culture and traditions!

Icelandic dish - Sheeps head

Icelandic dish – Sheeps head – Photo: Shutterstock

12. One of few countries who still practice and allow commercial whaling

Even though more and more people see it as a controversial practice, it is still not illegal with commercial whaling. Although most Icelanders don’t eat whale meat very often, it’s still served at some restaurants, mainly due to demand from tourists. 

13. You can walk on Glaciers

There are many glaciers in Iceland, and one of the most accessible is the one in Svinafellsjökull. There are guided tours where you can walk down into Ice crevasses, ice caves as well as walking on top of the mighty Icelandic glaciers!

glaciärvandring

14. Extremely low crime levels

Iceland is one of the countries in the world that has the lowest crime levels along with countries such as Japan and South Korea. It is very unlikely that you will encounter any crime at all. 

15. You can experience the Northern lights here

Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see Northern Lights, which are usually available from sometime in September until March/April. There are several apps that can be used to track Northern Lights activity as well as the visibility forecast.

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Northern lights

5 x Fun facts about Iceland

  • Some Icelanders still believe in Elves and Trolls
  • Consumption of Coca–Cola per capita is higher than in any other country
  • Some Icelanders have taken back the old Norse gods
  • Icelanders watch more movies than any other nation
  • Some of the most famous Vikings were born on Iceland
Fun facts about Iceland

Photo: leospek/Shutterstock

5 x Iceland facts for kids

  • The Icelandic horse is one of many unique animals
  • Iceland was one of the last places on earth to be settled by humans
  • It was settled by Vikings from Norway
  • The national sport is handball
  • You can see puffins in Iceland

Icelandic-Horses

General Facts about Iceland

Below are some general info such as total population, land area, biggest lake, highest mountain and other general facts about Iceland that might be interesting to know.

  • Total Population: 338,349
  • Capital: Reykjavik
  • Life expectancy: 82.47 years
  • Highest Mountain: Hvannadalshnúkur at 2,109.6 metres (6,921 ft)
  • Area: 102,775 km2 (39,682 sq mi)
  • Largest Lake: Thingvallavatn
  • National Day: 17 June
  • Government: Unitary parliamentary republic
  • President: Guðni Th. Jóhannesson
  • Currency: Icelandic krona (ISK)
  • Official language: Icelandic
  • Religion: Church of Iceland (Christianity)
  • Member of Nato: Yes
  • Member of European Union: No
  • National song: “Lofsöngur”
  • Time zone: UTC+0 (WET)
  • Country Number/Prefix: +354
  • Country Code: IS

The Biggest Cities in Iceland

If you’re looking for Iceland facts, it might also be interesting to know which are the biggest cities. Here’s a list of the top 10 biggest cities ranked after population.

ReykjavikKópavogur
HafnarfjörðurReykjanesbær
AkureyriGarðabær
MosfellsbærÁrborg
AkranesFjarðabyggð

Flag of Iceland

The Icelandic flag is characterized by it’s red and white cross and blue background. 

icelandic flag

Map of Iceland

Map of Iceland

Photo: Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock


How many of these facts about Iceland did you know? Leave a comment below!