To know what is so amazingly special about Iceland, read on.
What Makes Iceland a Special Place?
1. Iceland is the most peaceful country - Did you know that Iceland does not have an air force, army or navy of its own, and its police officers do not even carry guns? With its extremely low crime rate, it is undoubtedly a favourite spot for tourists and a cause of pride for its citizens. The place is so safe that mothers do not even think twice before leaving their sleeping children unattended in strollers. The result - you hardly see a missing child poster. All of this strengthens the Global Peace Index rankings, placing the country at the top.
2. It ranks high on happiness - With peace leading the way, happiness cannot stay far behind. The World Happiness Report positions Iceland in the 3rd place in the world. The ranking factors are life expectancy, GDP per capita, freedom to make life choices, social support, and much more. You will be surprised to know that even after the economic slowdown of 2007, Icelandic people have been able to maintain their tryst with happiness.
3. Environmental cleanliness and purity - Another factor is placing Iceland amongst the best in the world is its purity and cleanliness. Second, only to Finland, it had been declared the second most environmentally-friendly country in the world by EPI (Environmental Performance Index) in 2016.
4. Iceland wins in gender equality - You simply cannot differentiate between girl jobs and boy jobs in the country. The World Economic Forum ranked it the best country on gender equality.
5. It has the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun - Iceland is one of the best places to visit if you want to witness the ethereal dance of the Northern Lights as it adorns the night sky. These lights bring countless tourists and photography enthusiasts to the island’s shores. During the summer, the sun barely sets in Iceland for a while, a phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun. This is a great time to embark on sightseeing tours as you can enjoy very long periods of daylight almost every day. These are some natural occurrences best enjoyed on a trip to Iceland.
6. The world’s first parliament is here - Thingvellir houses Iceland’s first national parliament, founded in 930, Althingi. In the days of yore, the parliament was an outdoor assembly where the country’s law was decided upon by the leaders. Till 1798, the assembly took place in Thingvellir, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
7. It is a powerhouse of heat - For land of ice, it produces quite a lot of heat; no wonder it is called the land of fire and ice. Even though the country is quite cold, it also shelters some of the most active volcanoes on Earth. With 800 hot springs, you can imagine how much hot water it pumps out. This is beneficial to the nation’s energy conservation endeavours, as around 85% of Iceland’s homes get natural heat by geothermal water. As a tourist, you can ward off the cold by taking a dip into one of its hot cauldrons.
8. Icelanders believe in elves - Telegraph Travel's Mike Unwin warns the uninitiated against upsetting an elf when you visit Iceland. Although it might seem weird, the country’s people love to believe in the existence of elves. In fact, a 2016 study showed that 55.5% of people either considered these magical creatures to likely exist or definitely exist. Local belief hides them under waterfalls, behind rocks and in volcanoes, and glaciers. Their fellow community members, trolls, are said to operate at night. Many of the rock formations in the country are thought to be trolls, who got caught in the open when the sun rose. The legends and myths surrounding these creatures are so well-known that Discover the World, a hiking tour, tailors a trip around it.
9. Mosquitos are missing - Iceland is a no mosquito zone. Have you ever narrowed down your holiday destinations on the basis of these bothersome and dangerous living beings? Or rather the dearth of it? If yes, Iceland is the ideal option for you, competing only with Antarctica.
10. Reykjavik and its surroundings are amazing - The country’s capital, Reykjavik, is a storehouse of startling information. Starting with its geographical endowment, it is the western-most and the northern-most capital city in Europe. You can treat your eyes to the various museums in the city, but do not miss the Penis Museum, boasting the largest collection of penises (280) in the world. Bessastadir, the official residence of Iceland’s President, is just a few minutes’ drives from the capital. But that is not amazing. What surprises people is the absence of security around the presidential lot. This means you can simply walk up to the President’s door and knock on it or even click a picture outside it.
11. Naming your little one is a matter of research - You cannot name your child as you wish to. The Icelandic Naming Committee considers all new first names before deciding whether they can be incorporated into the country’s tradition and culture or not.
12. Drinking alcohol has a unique scene - You can buy alcohol only at one of the 46 Vínbúð, state-owned licensed liquor stores. Interestingly, Iceland’s unusual relationship with hard drinks dates back to 1915 when they were banned until 1989. Beer (2.25% ABV or above) was probably in the worst books as it was the only hard drink announced illegal from 1935 to 1989. Fortunately, modern Icelandic people and tourists can make the most of the successful craft beer industry.
These are some of the reasons why Iceland is a special place and also why tourists return to it again and again. A trip to Iceland can give you many amazing experiences and memories to cherish forever.