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Things You Didn’t Know About Iceland

How much do you know about your own country? You should at least be able to name the capital city, the name of the King, Queen or President and a few of the counties or states. While it’s all well and good knowing about your own country, very few of us know much about other nations. Okay, we’re probably - on the whole - pretty good at naming influential figures and capital cities, but what about the kind of random stuff that comes up on pub quizzes and leaves us all stumped? (Except that one guy who seems to know the depth of the river in the middle of nowhere in a country you’ve never heard of).

Iceland is the kind of country that many will struggle to point out on a map, located away from mainland Europe and completely surrounded by sea it’s only those with an interest or qualification in world geography that could probably hold
down a conversation about the nation. For example, I’ll bet you don’t know a lot about Icelandic fashion and the number of
designers who have come from the country. Many have started off designing outfits in notebooks just like the biggest names and are now living in places such as Los Angeles, (in the case of Helga Solrun) and now regularly exhibit across Europe and the United States.

So, to improve your knowledge of all things Icelandic, let’s take a look at a few things that you can use to your advantage at the next pub quiz:

  • Despite the name, Iceland isn’t actually that cold. It has been known to have warmer average temperatures than New York at certain times of year
  • Around 320,000 people live in the country, although more than 200,000 of those inhabitants live in the capital, Reykjavik
  • The country features five glaciers, including the three largest in Europe. Glaciers account for 11% of the country
  • In the peak of summer, the sun can shine for 24 hours straight in some parts of the North of the country. At the other end of the spectrum, there can be as little as three to four hours of daylight on some winter days; although you can see the Northern Lights on clear nights.
  • It is like heaven for geologists! Situated on the joint of the Eurasian and North American plates, there are geysers and daily minor earthquakes as the plates drift apart.
  • Surtsey Island, which arose from the Ocean following a volcanic eruption in 1963, is the youngest place on the planet and belongs to Iceland.
  • Iceland was ruled by Denmark between the late 14th Century and 1944 (Denmark is 1,300 miles away).
  • People are named by patronymics, the process of taking their father’s first name and the person’s gender, eg Christiansson (Christian’s son).
  • Iceland is home to around 130 volcanoes, although only 40 have erupted in the past 1,000 years. One of the most famous occurred in 2010 when volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull shut down most European flights.
  • Icelanders have the longest average working week throughout Europe, with employees clocking up around 43.5 hours per week.