Hollywood, IcelandBesides hugely famous TV series such as Game of Thrones, Iceland has been the set for several movies. Here is our random top five:
Die Another Day (2002) – directed by Lee Tamahori Main locations: Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull National Park
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) – directed by J.J. Abrams Main locations: Eyjafjallajökull, North Iceland
Prometheus (2012) – directed by Ridley Scott Main locations: Dettifoss and surroundings, Hekla, Vatnajökull National Park
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) – directed by Ben Stiller Main locations: Seyðisfjörður, Skaftafell, Snæfellsnes
Thor: The Dark World (2013) – directed by Alan Taylor Main locations: Hekla, Highlands, Skógafoss and South Coast
Snow White was a ValkyrieWhile the century-old story of Snow White comes from Germany, the most easily recognisable design of her character is the one by Walt Disney Studios whose illustrator supposedly took inspiration from some Icelandic beauty.
Kristín Sölvadóttir was engaged to Charlie Thorsson, born Karl Gustaf Stefanson, character designer for Walt Disney. Despite the marriage never taking place, Charlie allegedly promised his lover he would immortalise her and did so in 1937 by basing the design for Snow White on her.
Wow, Mjallhvít (Snow White) is from Siglufjörður!
Reykjavík is the coolestReykjavík is the world's northernmost capital of any sovereign state, latitude 64°08' N.
Greater Reykjavík is the name used collectively for Reykjavík and six municipalities around it. Its population of 209.680 altogether is over 60% of the population of Iceland, in an area that is only just over 1% of the total size of the country.
The entire country of Iceland (which covers roughly the same area as the U.S. state of Kentucky) only holds a little over 330.000 inhabitants. This small population makes for a largely rural country and a capital city which feels like a really big small town – so lovely.
HÚ!Everybody, football fans or not, cheered for Iceland during the last UEFA European Football Championship held in France. The Icelandic men’s national football team shined bright at the Euro Cup 2016, its first participation ever to an international tournament.
Iceland is the smallest nation in history to qualify for the Euro Championship and went unbeaten through both the group stages and the round of 16 (winning England 2-1, England!). Over 8% of the nation flew to France to support their heroes singing the “HÚ” Viking chant now famous worldwide.
The team has worked wonders, shooting up to 22nd place on FIFA’s national teams world ranking. Believe us, this is just the beginning.
The Viking mixIcelanders were long thought to descend exclusively from the Norwegian Vikings who settled the island from 874. Genetic studies recently revealed that a remarkable portion of our ancestry can actually be traced back to the native Celtic populations of Ireland and Scotland, who were brought to Iceland as slaves by the Vikings…beautiful women especially.
The population of Iceland is therefore best described ethnically as a Celto-Germanic hybrid, like the Lowland Scots, the English, the Belgians, the Southwest Germans and the Swiss. We just took the best of everything, yo.
We the bestIcelanders are famous for their immense strength. Strength athletics and powerlifting have been Iceland's greatest success in sports on an international level so far. In the World's Strongest Man competition Iceland has a record that belies the size of the nation’s population, having won 8 WSM titles (second only to the USA with 9 titles). For Game of Thrones fans, the Mountain - aka the Icelandic Thor Björnsson - has finished in the top three for the WSM for the past three years. Freaking scary. Moreover Iceland is also one of Miss World top nations, placing three winners since the competition began in 1951. Strong men and beautiful women, but also handsome men and strong women.
BookslandIceland is said to have the world's highest number of writers, authors and artists per capita: there is hardly anyone who doesn't write or make art. And we do read a lot as well, with 50% of the population reading at least 8 books per year, while an impressive 93% reads at least one.
Books are everybody’s favourite Christmas present, this longstanding tradition being called Jólabókaflóðið or “Christmas book flood”.
But our most interesting one is definitely the Íslendingabók, which is now a website containing a full genealogy of 720.000 Icelanders. It has given rise to a very popular app that young people use to check whether they are related before starting a romance – especially on a Saturday night.
Skál means cheersBeer was banned nationwide until 1989. The legal drinking age in Iceland is 20, the highest in Europe, and still nowadays alcohol can only be purchased in very expensive state-owned Vínbúð, or in licensed bars, restaurants and hotels.
Anyways our favourite drink will always be anything containing caffeine. Icelanders consume the most Coca-Cola per capita as well as about 9 kilos of coffee beans per year. The national daily average is 7 cups for men and 6 for women. Coffee is also really intertwined in the day as terms like morgunkaffi (morning coffee) or kvöldkaffi (evening coffee) show.
We work hard, play hard, drink hard!
Shiny happy peopleAccording to the World Happiness Report, published every year by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Iceland is among the very happiest countries on earth, placing in the top 5 of the list for several years in a row.
This year was no exception: Iceland scored third place, falling just behind Denmark and Switzerland by a fraction of a point. This index takes into account GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and much else.
As for peace we have no rivals: Iceland topped the Global Peace index for the sixth year in a row. That’s surely something to be proud of, high five!