I love Iceland. I’ve been fortunate to have visited twice. I’ve seen the astonishing, alien-like terrain; the beautiful glacial vistas; the serene, relaxing hot springs; and the hip, vibrant capital city of Reykjavik. Shockingly, it’s only a 4.5 hour flight from Boston — very doable for a long weekend.
One of the most interesting facets of Iceland is its tight-knit culture that emphasizes its own Nordic legacy. Did you know that additions to the language are ratified by the parliament, and must be consistent with Ancient Norse? To that end, modern Icelandic is very similar to ancient Norse (which, by the way, is directly responsible for at least 5% of modern English, and some would say closer to 15%). Did you know that all men take their surnames with an -sson after their fathers’ names (i.e., Magnusson), and all women similarly take -dottir (e.g., Sigurdsdottir)?
Did you know that Iceland boasts the oldest existent parliament, the Althing, which first met at Thingvallir — which happens to straddle the continental divide between the North American and European continents? I’ve been there. The beauty is breathtaking.
Did you know that 81% of Iceland’s energy comes from renewable geothermal or hydroelectric sources? 100% of electricity is renewable (70/30 hydro/geo). Over 80% of Icelandic homes are heated by geothermal energy.
Here are some websites to check out regarding this tiny Nordic country:
- Wikipedia entry
- Lonely Planet’s Travel Guide
- Trey Ratcliff’s Amazing Iceland Photos
- Iceland’s Official Tourism Site
- Adventure Tours in Iceland