The majority of these I found out from our amazing and super friendly tour guide, Gilly for the Golden Circle and Snorkelling tour, whilst we were driving. I thought they were pretty neat and it never hurts to know a little of the history about the place you’re planning to travel to!
Reykjavik is a direct translation and means Smokey Bay.
It was very late to enter into the industrial era, only entering after World War II. Before that Iceland was the poorest country in Europe. This is why they have no really old houses like London does, their first cement long standing house was built in the last century.
Iceland is the only place where the mid-Atlantic ridge can be seen above sea level, appearing as a mountain range.
Iceland is around 60 million years old.
Icelandic horses are the purest breed on earth. If one leaves the country, they’re not allowed back in.
Where their parliament was established, they used the cliff face as an amphitheatre, so that the wisest man in the village had the responsibility of memorising all the laws and reciting them to the village folk in the valley. A pole now stands to mark the parliament site. When they got their independence, they converted from believing in Viking Gods to Christianity .
On the Golden Circle tour, you will be driving along the cliff of the North American tectonic plate. This and the Eurasian plate are moving apart at a rate of 2 cm each year, creating a fissures, to which glacial water filters through the lava rock and creates a lake (the one we snorkelled in!)
Considering the two tectonic plates are moving apart 2 cm each year, one would think Iceland would eventually split in two, but this is not the case! This is because there is so much volcanic activity in and beneath Iceland that the magma rises up and cools, so Iceland is actually getting larger!
Iceland runs entirely on renewable energy; 20% is geothermal energy (steam from hot springs underground turn turbines) and 80% is hydroelectricity, with the island hosting over 10,000 waterfalls. It’s so easy, making Iceland’s electricity relatively cheap, especially compared to England.
They also pump steam from the hot springs into greenhouses and with the aid of UV lights, create a tropical climate. This allows them to grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables, all year round. Even banana trees!
They have a population of 330,000, all of which have been mapped out onto one family tree. You can only go 9 generations backs before you will be related to someone. Everyone on the Island is related somehow! Gilly told us they have a dating app as it were, for it, to check beforehand.
They deal so well with their chaotic weather, that since they have roads that run through mountain passes, they actually have signs by the side of the road to update them on wind speedy, direction, force etc. If it looks bad, they’ll stop off at a gas station for pancakes and hot chocolate and wait for it to all blow over. It is this mentality which has led to a mere 2 deaths by car accidents this year so far in Iceland! With their lowest at 4 deaths in a year and a maximum of 12. Apparently the majority of these are in fact tourists, as they do not know and cannot therefore follow the same road safety and weather guidelines to such a standard.
I hope you enjoyed these little factoids, they are only snippets of the amazing history and knowledge of this place, be sure to hear it for yourself!