Okay, to be fair, most Icelanders don’t eat this stuff on a regular basis, but some of the weirdest stuff includes Hakarl(fermented shark that apparently tastes and smells like ammonia), svid (singed and boiled sheep’s head), and Hrutspungar (ram’s testicles).
2. Babies Are Left Outside To Nap In Sub-Zero Temperatures To Improve Their Health
Believe it or not, Scandinavian parents will regularly leave their babies outside alone to nap, even in freezing temperatures. The logic behind it is that “children exposed to fresh air, whether in summer or the depths of winter, are less likely to catch coughs and colds — and that spending a whole day in one room with 30 other children does them no good at all.”
In Iceland, last names don’t get passed down through generations as is common in many cultures. Instead, Icelandic last names are a combination of each person’s father’s name, preceding -son or -dottir (daughter).
For example, the male child of Oskar would have the last name Oskarsson, and the female child of the same Oskar would have the last name of Oskarsdottir.
Known as “The Land of Fire and Ice,” Iceland is home to both the largest glaciers in Europe, and some of the world’s most active volcanoes. Iceland is also the “land of light and darkness”; its summers sometimes see 24 hours of daylight, while winters often only see a couple hours of daylight per day.
Iceland was the last country in Europe to be settled, in the 9th century. It remained pretty isolated until the early 20th century. Up until that point its inhabitants were mainly farmers and fishermen.
Yup, you read that correctly. Despite being a fairly progressive and technologically advanced country, surveys have shown that up to 80% of Icelanders believe in the existence of elves. They’ll even re-route roads or redesign building plans where elves are rumored to live.
9. This Is How You Pronounce The Name Of That Volcano
You know, the volcano that erupted in 2010 that cancelled flights across Europe for days and forced hundreds out of their homes?
Iceland is known for being quite a progressive country, and gender equality is of no exception there. Women hold 41% of the seats in government (compared with just 17% in the US), and 80% of Icelandic women work.
“It’s a good place to be a woman,” says Thordis Loa Thorhallsdottir, the CEO of a tourism company.
Ever since Iceland was first inhabited, people have been chronicling the nation's scarcity of trees. Over time the trees have been cut down for firewood or prevented from growing properly due to volcanic ash. Luckily though, today Iceland plants more trees than any other nation in the world.
Probably due to the nation being isolated for so long, the Icelandic language changed relatively little over the centuries. Instead of incorporating foreign words into the vocabulary, a government committee works to invent new ones. For example, they have their own word for “iPad” -- spjaldtovla.
They even have a holiday called “The Day of the Icelandic Tongue.”
Contrary to what you may believe, a flight from New York City to Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, is only about five hours long, and seven from the West Coast! If that’s not enough, flights can be as cheap as $500 for a round trip!