Monday, September 24, 2012

Iceland, Who knew?

Adventures in Iceland

“What?” you say, adventures in Iceland?! How adventurous could Iceland be?  Well, surprisingly it looks like a very fun country that no one ever really knew about – well, I never knew about it.  Located near the Artic circle, where the Atlantic ocean meets the Artic Ocean, Iceland is an island nation of about 320,000 people.
 On the map at 64.13N/21.9W, Iceland is almost halfway between North America and Europe.  The most sparsely populated country in Europe, it has glaciers, steaming natural mineral baths and erupting volcanoes, oh, and beautiful, amazing scenery!!  The capital city of Reykjavik is home to over 60% of the population and is a modern, safe and culturally-rich big city with symphonies, operas, gourmet restaurants and fine shopping.  However, drive 30 minutes away and you can feel like you are the only person in the world.  Ok, so it must be cold right?  I mean that’s why they call it Iceland!  But no, I was surprised to learn that it’s not usually any colder than New York or Minneapolis in winter – average temp is about 31 degrees F, and the summers are usually mild too, with temps in the 70s.  Here are a few other surprising things I learned about Iceland –

·        It was the last European country to be settled permanently, around 874 AD by Vikings from Norway.

·        Iceland has one of the longest life expectancies and highest qualities of life in the world.

·        Its people drink more Coca- cola, go to the movies more often and own more books per capita than any other country.

·        The people believe in elves and have even rerouted some roads to avoid disturbing elf communities. How awesome is that?!?

·        Over 70% of the energy used in Iceland comes from either geothermal or hydroelectric power which means the country has almost no pollution.

·        The water is so clean and pure that it is piped directly into the homes with no treatment necessary.

·        Iceland has the oldest democracy in the world – it was first developed over 1000 years ago.

·        Iceland has no Army, Navy, or Air Force (it does have a Coast Guard) and the country has free healthcare and education for all of its people.

·        And this one is fun – the people of Iceland have no last names that they pass down.  A child is given a first name and their “last” name is their father’s first name followed by son or dottir (daughter).  So, in Iceland I would be Jennifer Michaelsdottir but my brother would be Ryan Michaelsson and my father would be Michael Dennisson.  Probably makes things kinda confusing I’d think, but apparently it works for them J

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