From the big to the small there is a parade of different countries littered throughout the continent of Europe for you to enjoy, and today, we're going to draw our attention to one of the loveable underdog islands: Iceland.
You've all heard about the Blue Lagoon and everything that comes with it, but today, we want to investigate some of the other facts and figures associated with the nation that are not quite as well known. Whether or not they increase your interest in going there entirely depends on what you look for in a trip. Either way, we're big fans.
10 Lots Of Locals Believe In Elves
When your community has something called an elf walk, there are bound to be some questions that are raised. Over half the population of Iceland believe in the existence of elves and isn’t that just the purest thing you’ve heard all year?
The mythological landscape of this great nation has contributed towards these beliefs, which go back hundreds upon hundreds of decades. It’s an institution over there, and it’s just such a wholesome thing to celebrate. Hafnarfjörður is believed to be their elf capital, so make sure to get yourselves down there one day.
9 Best Country For Personal Freedom
Personal freedom is a fairly subjective thing to declare, but when Forbes believes that your nation is the best for personal freedom on the planet, it’s worth sitting up and taking notice. From the low crime rate to the overwhelming happiness of the locals, it’s not exactly difficult to figure out why there’s such a warm atmosphere up there.
You can be anything you want to be and while you could argue this is true in other countries, especially in places like the United States where they pretty much sell phrases like that on a t-shirt, it’s not always the case.
8 No Army
Iceland is one of the most notable countries in the world to not possess an army, with the coastal guard dealing with many of their issues on the waters.
To give you an idea of how non-confrontational they are, a lot of their police officers don’t even carry guns around with them. On top of that, back during World War II, Iceland remained largely neutral and didn’t want to get involved with any kind of conflict. That didn’t stop the British from invading, but at least the locals were able to keep their dignity intact.
7 Reykjavik Aka The Hub
With more than a third of Iceland’s population currently residing in Reykjavik, we think it’s safe to say that this city is the official hub of the country – for better, or worse (it’s better). It’s full of culture, fishing expeditions, nice locals, and that’s just when you’ve arrived at the airport.
It’s quite unassuming, but the same could be said of the entire nation. In many ways, it can be compared heavily to Anchorage over in Alaska, with both serving as rather unconventional yet somewhat charming cities. They’re not party hubs, but they don’t need to be.
6 World Cup Underdog Success
In late 2017, Iceland made history by becoming the smallest nation ever to qualify for the finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. This came just over a year after their fantastic campaign at UEFA Euro 2016, in which they were able to knock out England and reach the quarter-finals of the tournament.
While it may not seem particularly significant to non-sports fans, this achievement really did capture the spirit and the heart of the Icelandic people in more ways than one. After all, there aren’t many people that don’t enjoy a good underdog.
5 The Food Isn’t Great
From sheep’s head to lamb meat soup to fermented shark and beyond, there just isn’t much to scream and shout about when it comes to the local cuisine in Iceland. Everything in that part of the world is quite raw and rugged, which is probably why so many of their men go on to become strongmen.
The food doesn’t need to be good in order to get them big and strong, and while we’d prefer it if there were a few more options to choose from, we’re not stupid enough to argue about it.
4 Beer Day
For the longest period of time, the majority of alcohol was actually banned in Iceland, with this ruling eventually being dwindled down to alcohol above a certain percentage. Then, in 1989, the people of Iceland were able to celebrate as the majority of alcoholic beverages were permitted to play a role in the nation’s culture once again.
They even have a day that is known as Beer Day, and to say that we want to take part in that tradition would be a dramatic understatement. In fact, we’re booking the tickets now.
3 No McDonald’s
Due to the collapse of the country’s currency around a year ago, as well as a disagreement between the two parties, Iceland actually doesn’t have any McDonald’s restaurants currently situated in the country.
That’s a very first world problem and we’re well aware of that fact, but if you are craving a cheeseburger of some description, just make sure it isn’t from McDonald’s – because you’re going to be out of luck. In truth, this would probably be a really good thing if the rest of their food wasn’t so questionable.
2 The Forgotten Nature Reserve
When you glance over the landscape of Iceland as a country, it’s not uncommon to realize that, for the most part, there isn’t much forestry to speak of. However, tucked away up towards the far north of the country is the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. This stunning destination allows for you to travel miles upon miles without even seeing another soul, which should be enough of an incentive to go.
If you’ve ever wanted to go somewhere and feel like you’re stood on the very edge of the planet, head to Hornbjarg and look out into the great beyond.
1 The Land of Fire and Ice
This sounds like the latest book in the Game of Thrones series, but trust us, it isn’t. The down to earth nation of Iceland has gained this remarkable nickname over the years, to the point where it has stuck as a popular tourism selling point.
It captures the heart of the terrain, in addition to the volcanoes that threaten to wreak havoc across the country. Fun, isn’t it? If you’re going to go out of your way to name a nation something, then you’d better make sure it’s as cool as this.