Iceland is a remote island country in the North Atlantic. Do not let the name fool you, ice is just one part of it – beside glaciers Iceland also contains volcanoes, hot springs and wide greens. This volcanically active old viking settlement has a small quirky population and a distinct Nordic culture. Descendant of Old Norse, Icelandic is the only recognized language. The currency is the Icelandic Króna (ISK).
102 775 km²
Iceland possesses what is undoubtably one of the most dramatic natural landscapes in the world, with sweeping glaciers, imposing volcanoes and stunning hot pools and geysers. The unique and untouched landscape has contributed to a booming tourism industry, which now accounts for approximately 10% of their GDP. Reykjavík, the capital, is among is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world.
A geothermal spa located in a lava field, Blue Lagoon is a must visit attraction in Iceland. The mesmerizing light blue water is both relaxing and good for you, as it contains a lot of healthy minerals gushing from the earth’s crust. The steam from the spa covers the area, creating a stark contrast between the hot spring and the cold mountains around it.
The people of Iceland are known for many things: their beautiful, strange names; their Viking ancestry; and their widespread belief in the existence of elves (yes, we’re serious). But beyond these characteristics, who are the Icelanders? The first thing to know about them is that there really aren’t all that many of them – just a little more than 300 000. There is a good chance that an Icelander has a friend who went to school with the Prime Minister, or has an aunt who shared a plate of fermented fish with the Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson. Perhaps due to the ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ -culture Icelanders are quirky and laid back, unafraid of being themselves.
Culturally, Iceland has much in common with the Scandinavian countries, but is differentiated by their language, cuisine and medieval sagas. Icelandic cuisine has gained international recognition in recent years, with some rather strange dishes. One example is kæstur hákarl, or fermented shark. Its smell is described as “similar to many cleaning products” – appetising! From these angles, an image of the Icelandic people begins to take shape. The people are tough, healthy, creative – and fond of fermented shark.