Wednesday Wanderlust: Iceland

No matter how wonderful my corner of the world, every so often all I want to do is grab my passport and head for the great wide elsewhere. Since that’s not feasible right now, here’s where I’m dreaming of wandering this week.

This week, I’m dreaming of Iceland. A little off the beaten track, yes, but since we’re just wandering through our computer browsers, we’ll survive.

A few grade school facts to get us started:

  • Iceland is a small island in the North Atlantic; the capital is Reykjavik.
  • Despite its proximity to the Artic Circle, Iceland actually has a rather temperate climate, thanks to the Gulf Stream.


  • The primary trade in Iceland is fisheries and agriculture.
  • The first permanent settlement in Iceland was founded by Norwegian explorer Ingolfr Arnarson in 874 AD. (Ingolfr is from the same root as Adolf and means “royal/kingly wolf”.)
  • There is a widespread belief in elves (Reportedly 20% of the population.) Yep. Read it here, in the NY Times.


  • Iceland has what is known as the Nordic welfare system, which provides universal health care and education through graduate degrees for its citizens. (Forget the scenery—I’d go for that alone!)

  • Iceland is 17 on the United Nations Human Development Index.
  • Iceland was called the “most feminist country” in a March 2010 Guardian article, but they seem to be basing this merely on Icelandic prime minister Johanna Sigurdardottir’s prohibition of strip clubs.  Read the article here. (The article’s reduction of feminism to that-which-prohibits-strip-clubs is problematic, but interesting nonetheless.)

  • Iceland was ranked number 1 on The Global Gender Gap Report, which assess how equitably the resources and opportunities are divided between the male and female populations of any given country. (The United States is number 19. NINETEEN!) (Page 8 is where it gets juicy.)

Also: There’s no word in the Icelandic language for “please,” the Prime Minister’s number is in the phone book (listed, like everyone else’s, by first name), there are more broadband internet connections in Iceland than anywhere else in the world (per capita), 80% of the country’s power comes from renewable sources, and earthquakes happen every day.

And that’s what I’m dreaming of today. Where would you go, given world enough and time?


“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a single page.”
–St. Augustine

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