If you thought you knew all there was to know about Iceland, take a look at these 13 facts about the small volcanic island in the North Atlantic, and think again.
It’s in the ‘wrong’ time zone
Iceland lies in the same time zone as England, even though it is hundreds of kilometers to the west, and you can see on a map that the time zone makes a huge detour to embrace Iceland. Considering the already extreme conditions of light and dark that the country experiences between summer and winter, this time zone has been the subject of debate for many decades, as it can have a detrimental effect on the body to be out of line with your actual geographical position.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Everyone speaks English
Everyone speaks English, that is, except perhaps for those born before around 1940. Iceland does not dub movies, and therefore the English language has quickly become the second language for most of the small island.
(Almost) everyone lives in Reykjavik
You may imagine Icelanders living on farms and taking care of sheep all year, but that is not that case, as 94% of the population lives in Reykjavik. Cast away any vision of a country full of rugged farmers; the majority are actually city-dwellers.
Perhaps you had it in mind that Iceland had a village-like atmosphere in which everyone walked from place to place, embracing the incredible natural elements. Well, that is to some extent true, but it is also true that there is an incredible amount of traffic in Reykjavík, so someone’s driving somewhere. There is a very limited public transport system, and the country is full of wide, open spaces, so a car is a must for many people.
Everyone has the internet
If you imagine that Iceland is an Arctic village on a windswept rock, consider that almost 100% of Icelanders have access to the internet, and it’s one of the fastest in Europe.
The population is tiny
While an island the size of Texas inevitably has a small population, some visitors don’t realize exactly how small it is, and what implications that can have. As of last year, the population of Iceland was 334,000. That’s about the same as the city of Leicester in the UK, or Tampa in Florida. And while the population may be growing, there will always be the sensation that very few people live here, and that everyone knows everyone.
Hardly any Icelanders eat whale
Whaling in Iceland is a subject of much controversy, but the fact of the matter is that no one is really eating the whales that are hunted for eating in Iceland, and it is now an industry catering mostly to tourists.
The National Church is Lutheran, but it’s in decline
The number of Icelanders unregistered in any religious organization has increased greatly in the past few years, while those registered in the National Church of Iceland, also known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, is decreasing.
There’s a housing crisis
The housing crisis, which ultimately has arisen because the rising population has not been matched by the construction of an equal number of new homes, has also been affected by tourism. Many residents of Reykjavik have found a lucrative business in renting rooms and flats to tourists instead of to residents, especially during the summer months.
Wealth is distributed evenly
Iceland had the lowest level of income inequality within Europe in 2016.
Icelanders use a lot of water
While there is plenty of promotion about Iceland being green, it’s not totally true. The country uses lots of geothermal energy for heating and hot water, and there are many natural benefits of hydropower, but having so much water available definitely seems to make people consume it without a second thought, as Icelanders use a lot.
Iceland loves pills
According to the Icelandic Monitor, Iceland is top on the list of all the Nordic countries when it comes to the use of addictive painkillers, stimulants, sleeping pills, and sedatives. With the drastic shifts in light from one season to the next, this is understandable, not to mention the added factor of being in a time zone that is hundreds of kilometers west of where it should be.
It’s extremely expensive, even for residents
The minimum wage in Iceland has not risen in line with the inflation in the cost of goods and housing. While visitors to Iceland often note how expensive things are, most assume that it is affordable for the residents themselves, but this is more often not the case.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
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