Elves, ice, lava and peace – four words that could only ever be related to that stunning lump of lava rock that sits tranquilly between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. They call it the Land of Fire and Ice due to its severely paradoxical nature – geysers and volcanoes erupt furiously over the endless deserts of ice and tundra that stretch across the landscape for as far as the eye can see while lagoons engulfed in the snowy mountains boil blisteringly, in spite of the glacial temperatures that attack the air. The frost-bitten island really is one of the most beautifully peaceful locations on Earth, and here’s a few reasons why.
1. Iceland is the most peaceful country on the planet
It’s really not surprising. They’re far too busy circulating their beliefs around the existence of elves rather than building bombs that kill hundreds of thousands of people – go them. Statistically speaking, Iceland is ranked number one in the latest version of the Global Peace Index published in 2014 making them an international beacon of equality and peace throughout the world. Violent crime is also an extremely rare occurrence in the Nordic state.
2. iCELAND IS THE HOME OF INVISIBLE ELVES
Icelandic folklore is possibly one of the most intriguing cultural phenomenons of all. The entire nation seems hell-bent on the belief that invisible elves exist across the country and they’ve even built small homes for them to live in. In fact, belief in elves is so strong in some parts of Iceland that the construction of roads has often been halted due to fears that it may disturb elves living in the area. A survey published in 2006 revealed that over 50% of Icelanders either fully believed in elves or at least believed that their existence was a possibility. A mere 13.5% of those surveyed thought it impossible that they could exist. Clearly the latter are on the naughty list this year.
3. The blue lagoon
It looks freezing, but I can assure you it’s quite the opposite. The bustling attraction to both Icelanders and tourists is undoubtedly one of the most genius accidental creations in history. In the mid-1970s, the construction of a geothermal power plant formed a pool of water that soon caught on to the public as a glorious spot for bathing. The lagoon was soon after utilised as a spa where bathers can now indulge in in-water massages and drinks at the swim-up bar. The azure waters are also extremely healthy for the skin.
4. Aurora Borealis is at its most stunning
The ethereal explosion of blues, greens and pinks under a starry night sky is perhaps the most enchanting of the attractions Iceland has to offer and if you’re feeling super ambitious, why not view it from behind the glittering curtain of Seljalandsfoss?
4. Water does fall quite impressively in iceland
That pathetic drizzle of water flowing into the drain at the end of your street shouldn’t inspire you nearly as much as the momentous waterfalls of Iceland. The awe-inspiring waters of Gullfoss falls located in the canyon of Hvítá is will definitely arouse all of your senses. You can get up close and personal with Seljalandsfoss by literally walking through it, and then back out again, and then back in, and out, and in – it’ll make you super moist.
5. ICELANDERS ARE ACADEMICALLY AWESOME
The literacy rate in Iceland is superior to most other countries in the world at an astounding 99%. More books are produced per capita in the nordic state than any other country on the planet with an incredible five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. The act of gifting books at Christmas is a cultural phenomenon that’s been embedded into Icelandic tradition for decades. It is extremely rare for an Icelander to walk into a bra.
6. The sun doesn’t sleep in the summer, and neither will you
During the summer, the days become so short in Iceland that the sun can eventually be seen setting at midnight and then popping back up again just a few hours later with no real darkness in between. Although most people fear that the never-ending daylight will disrupt their precious beauty sleep, the use of blinds in Iceland is quite a common one and so it’s not really a huge issue. Besides, the 24 hour summer parties are sure to keep you occupied anyway.
7. THE INTERNET CONNECTION IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE
As much as many people derive their definition of Iceland from its name; a desolate land of ice that’s people live a very primitive lifestyle with minimal technology, this is quite simply, horse crap (see Iceland horses). Iceland is a global leader in internet technology with over 96% of the population connected to broadband. And the best part is, it’s all hydro-powered!
8. There are over 130 volcanoes in Iceland
Of the over one hundred volcanoes scattered across the rustic landscapes of Iceland, only a few have erupted over the last few hundred years. However, they do hold a more crucial purpose to the people of Iceland – they generate renewable energy. Over 26% of it to be precise.
9. the most popular restaurant in Iceland is a hot dog stand
There’s no McDonald’s in Iceland, but there are a few of these. Bæjarins beztu, translated into English as The Best Hot Dog’s in Town, quite possibly sell the tastiest hot dog munchies in the world. It is said that most natives of Iceland have visited the hot dog stand branch at least once in their lifetime and that tourists are often guided to or lured in to the hot dog haven either by locals or by the formidably enticing smell of meat.
10. Iceland is the land of equality, and political quirkiness
The land of fire and ice has accumulated rather a peculiar record of political leaders over the previous decades. For one, they gave power to Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, who conducted the first ever lesbian marriage in the history of the country after the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Iceland in 2010. The former mayor of Reykjavík (Iceland’s only city) Jón Gnarr, was also an exceptional character in Iceland’s political history. The self-determined punk rock taxi-driving comedian advocated equality in 2010 by showing up at a Gay Pride parade as a drag queen.
You should book your flight tickets pronto.