A little piece of Iceland

Let's check out some facts and data about Iceland from day 0 until now. Learn some necessary information about our country, history, geography, and maybe catch some of our common phrases for travelers.

Current Facts

 

Population: 339,031 (2019)
Capital City: Reykjavík
Time zone: GMT
National Flag: Blue, Red, and White. The colors are symbolic of three elements that make up the island: blue is for the sky, red is for the volcanic fires, and white represents the snow and glaciers.

Size: 103,000 sq. km
Language: The official language is Icelandic, a language from the North Germanic derived from Old Norse. It is constantly changing due to generations, and the majority of the population speaks English very well.
GDP: 23.91 billion USD (2017)
Unemployment rate: 3.5% (2019)
Predominant Religion: Lutherans

 

History

When you hear about Iceland’s history, the first word that might come to your mind is “Vikings.” Around the 870s, the first Norse settlements took place in Iceland, and Ingólfur Arnarsson, one of the noblemen, settled in Reykjavík.

More and more people continued to arrive and settle in Iceland. Historical data shows that these people were mostly Norwegian men and Irish women. In 930, The Althing, parliament for the judiciary and law-making body, was created in Thingvellir.

After 1000, Christianity is adopted, Icelandic culture begins to blossom with medieval literature. Around 1260, Norway’s king becomes the monarch of Iceland, and in 1380 both countries enter a union with Denmark, now Iceland being under the Danish rule. Is not only until 1944 that Icelanders vote in a referendum and become a republic on June 17th.

Geography

Iceland is one of the youngest countries in the world. It is located in the region of northern Europe and has a total area of 103,001 sq. Km. Climate is classified as a subpolar oceanic climate and tundra. The average temperature in summer can be 12 degrees and winter can reach 1 degree. During the past years, the summers are getting warmer and maybe rising to 20 degrees or a little bit more.

You might know already about the power of the Icelandic landscape: that’s why we call it the land of fire and ice. You will find a delicate balance between volcanoes, green valleys, glaciers, fjords, black sand beaches, mountains, hot rivers, and a very cold ocean. The primary natural resources are Renewable Energy, Fishing, and Water.

 

Regions

National Parks

Vatnajökull National Park, Snæfellsjökull National Park, and Þingvellir National Park.

Glaciers

10.2% of the total area of the country is covered by glaciers. The four largest are:
Vatnajökull (7,764 sq. km)
Langjökull (868 sq. km)
Hofsjökull (827 sq. km)
Mýrdalsjökull (542 sq. km)

Wildlife

Yes, it’s not only ice! The country is rich in birdlife and marine mammals. Dozens of birds species can be found mainly around summer during the nesting season. Other birds like the famous puffins, nest on sea cliffs all around the country.

Wild mammals like the Arctic Fox and the Icelandic Horse are the most popular. The Icelandic sheep is also very famous, especially for its delicious meat flavor and its hair that is used to produce wool, a textile fiber. And of course, we couldn’t forget about the stunning whales, seals, and dolphins. Other hundreds of fish species exist in Iceland, making fishing a significant industry for consumption and export.

Learning Icelandic Phrases

The Icelandic language derives from the Old Norse and it is only spoken in the country but it can be very alike other Scandinavian languages. Here are some words and phrases that could be helpful for your visit to Iceland.

English

Yes

No

Hello

Goodbye

Please

Thank you

Thank you very much

You are welcome

Excuse me

Good

Bad

I don’t speak Icelandic

Cheers!

Icelandic

Nei

Góðan daginn

Bless

Vinsamlegast/Gleðja

Takk

Takk fyrir

þú ert velkominn/Gerðu svo vel

Fyrirgefðu/Afsakið

Góður/Goð (male/fem)

Vondur/Vond (male/fem)

Ég tala ekki íslensku

Skál!

Numbers

1 = einn
2= tveir
3 = þrír
4 = fjórir
5 = fimm
6 = sex
7 = sjö
8 = átta
9 = níu
10 = tíu
0 = null

If you need any help during your trip, here are some important numbers for you to know when traveling in Iceland:

Emergency 112
Police 444 1000
Medical Assistance 1770
Dental emergency 575 0505
Information 1819