25 Interesting facts about Iceland

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Last updated: April 2, 2019

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.

Traveling to Iceland is a dream for many and Iceland’s nature is truly magical.

The climate is relatively mild thanks to the Gulf Stream. However, the weather conditions change rapidly and it is not unusual to experience different types of weather only a few hours.

A well-known Icelandic adage is that “if you do not like the weather, just wait 5 minutes”.

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.


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.

READ MORE:  My favorite things to do in Iceland

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.

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

Icelandic family

Photo: Shutterstock

4. There are no mosquitoes in Iceland

Thanks to Iceland’s 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 rash, although these are not mosquitoes.

5. Home to Europe’s first parliament

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

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.

READ MORE:  25 Amazing Places to Visit in Iceland

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 many interesting facts about Iceland!

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. 

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!


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. 

READ MORE:  Postcards from Iceland

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. 

Northern lights

5 x Fun facts about Icelanders

  • 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

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


General facts about Iceland

Total area103 492 km2
Ice and glacier area10 500 km2
Lakes2 656 km2
Area without ice92 692 km2
Farmland, vegetable, and fruit plantations1 290 km2
Forest1 907 km2
Largest lakeThingvallavatn 82 km2
Coastline6 088 km
Highest pointHvannadalshnúkur 2 110 m
Average temperatureAround 0 degrees during winter and 10 during summer

More facts about Iceland

Population333 690 inhabitants
Women and menAbout the same number of women and men are born each year
Average age36.3 year
National day17 June (independence day 1944)
ParliamentAlltinget or Alþingi
(63 seats)
Membership in EUNo
Membership in EESSince 1 January 1994
Membership in NatoSince 4 April 1949
CurrencyIcelandic krona (ISK)
Country code number+354
Official websitewww.iceland.is
Official languageIcelandic

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

April 3rd, 2017|


Swedish Nomad

Hello! I’m Alex Waltner — A Swedish Travel Blogger & Photographer.

My vision with this blog is to inspire people to travel more and better by sharing useful travel guides and tips from my adventures around the world.

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