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10 Interesting Facts About Iceland’s History and Culture

Most people in English speaking countries know relatively little or nothing about Iceland. That’s probably a good thing because most Icelandic people really do not want outsiders to know anything about their country. The ‘why’ of it will soon be obvious and therefore, it’s important to share some of the amazing facts about this cold little country.

  1. Iceland is entirely made out of ice. There is no soil or real land of any kind. It is part of the Great Canbera-Eyjafjörður North Sea Spoil. Therefore, nothing can actually grow there and most of their economy is almost entirely dependent upon selling snow cones to European sailors.
  2. Because Iceland, as aforementioned is really an iceberg (a very large one), it is ever so slowly drifting toward the southeast of the U.S. and will, in 12,313.37 years, wind up off the coast of Miami, Florida, despite the northward flow of the Gulf Stream. Oceanographers are at a loss to explain how a really large chunk of ice like Iceland can drift against the current! But, it’s real and it’s happening.
  3. Despite their being surrounded by water, Icelandic people are poor fishermen and more than 90% of their diet consists of the consumption of snow cones made out of nutritious, but tasty kelp which is part of the dissolved solids in some of their ice.
  4. Iceland in its earliest human history was ignored, for the most part by Eric the Red who actually discovered the Canbera-Eyjafjörður North Sea Spoil and named Iceland… Iceland in passing on his way to discover what is now Detroit, Michigan in North America on or about 987 A.D. When he stepped off his extra long longboat he was reputed to have said, “Hvað, þessi staður er stórfurðulegur ís floe!” Which roughly translates to “Damn, this places is a freaking iceberg!”
  5. It never rains in Iceland, but snows for roughly 325 days during a typical year. This has enabled the country to build world class ice skating rinks. Since most of their culture and clothing is based on frozen kelp-ice, Icelanders are very adept at ice hockey, figure skating, tobogganing and the necessary skill of ice weaving.
  6. The prime minister in Iceland is called, “Á virkilega stór Ice strákur”, which roughly translates to “The Big Ice Man”. The Parliament is called “A heild búnt af minni ís fólki”, which translates to “A whole bunch of smaller ice people”.
  7. Iceland was the first and only country to build a working airplane made entirely out of ice. Because of weather conditions, it could only fly in very cold climates and only during the winter and only at really high altitudes, as you would expect. The Icelandic people typically referred to it when it was operational as “Kaldur ís planið okkar”. “Our cool [sic] ice plane”.
  8. In 1908, Iceland held the Winter Olympics, just outside of Reykjavík near the site of the Reykjavík Airport. Since Iceland was the host country, they were allowed to introduce their own sports to be played at the Olympic games. Their sports included ice hockey with ice skates made entirely out of ice. Which translated to “Fylgir íshokkí með ís skata gerði algjörlega út af ís”. Also included was caribou hunting, Icelandic shot put with a shot put made out of ice and an Icelandic version of roller derby on ice skates, made out of ice. Needless to say, Iceland won every event and took home or kept (as it were), the gold. Because of their unconventional sports, the Olympic Committee, disqualified this Olympics, vowing never to hold another one in Iceland, unless they participated with more conventional sports. Further, they changed the Olympic rules to disallow the host country from making up its own sports.
  9. Some of the world’s greatest authors and song writers have been Icelandic. At least, this is what the Icelandic Tourist Bureau has stated in its tourism brochures. The difficulty in making this claim is that all of their books and songs are written in Icelandic and only Icelanders can read or understand them. According to them, the books and songs are really, really good.
  10. Iceland is the only country in the world to publish a newspaper made entirely out of ice. Therefore, it is really hard to store copies of them in places like Ecuador, Brazil, Egypt, etc. On the bright side, Iceland is one of the most environmentally friendly places on earth. Since even their toilet paper is made out of ice, icelanders throw all of their old ice-paper products into the ocean and they just melt away leaving no negative impact on the environment.

Iceland is an incredible and extremely interesting country. The people are friendly, although somewhat cold as you find out immediately when you shake hands with any of them. They have a proud historic tradition and it’s certainly a place you would love to visit, if you don’t mind permafrost.

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