Isn’t finding out about the weird and wonderful side of people and places one of the greatest things about travel? Well, I sure think so, and if you want to delve in a bit further into what makes Iceland such a great place to visit (apart from the nature and incredible scenery of course) here are a few facts about Icelanders, that will hopefully spark your curiosity and make you chuckle, or perhaps even both. And as an added bonus, you can always use them as an ice-breaker (pun intended) at a party or any time you want to introduce a bit of fun to a particularly dull business meeting.
#1 Maybe baby
If you want to call your baby anything out of the official approved list of Icelandic baby names, maybe you should think twice. It can be a bit of a lengthy process and special permission is required.
#2 Al fresco
There might be strict rules about what to name your baby, but once that is done, you’ll often find the little ones sleeping outdoors. Yes, in Iceland, even in the middle of winter. And before you draw any conclusions, it’s actually not an act of cruelty but a very healthy custom, which you can observe in other northern countries. So, south European grannies, stay calm and don’t panic, this is actually Icelanders way to make sure babies have sweet healthy dreams.
#3 People of many talents
Despite the streets filled with sleeping babies, the population of Iceland is still relatively small (just over 320,000 inhabitants) which requires that most of the locals develop many skills and talents to compensate for the modest number of people. Come to think of it this might be one of the reasons they have the longest working week in Europe at 43.5 hours - work just needs to be done. And with a population spread so thinly in a land where nature is so raw and untouched, but also potentially hazardous with conditions that can be changing every 5 minutes, they always pull together and help each other. The ICESAR (Iceland Search and Rescue) is a unique organization with teams in almost every town and village staffed entirely by self-funded and self-organized volunteers, who are always ready to help their fellow countrymen or visitors who are in danger.
#4 Per capita
You might have guessed that for a country with such a small population Icelanders are top ‘per capita’ for many things. Here’s a few, not that they let you learn more about what Icelanders are really like, but you never know… data analysis is advancing all the time, one day perhaps we’ll be able to connect the dots between these:
#5 Beer Day
Yes, since 1989 when beer was officially allowed again, Icelanders have a special day - 1st March, to celebrate the return of this much loved beverage which has now become the nation’s favourite alcoholic drink.
Of course there are many more things that you will find out about Iceland and Icelanders that might seem surprising or unusual. I’d love to hear about your take on what has left you bewildered, perplexed or even shocked on your visit to Iceland. Perhaps it might be something new to them too...you never know!