Getting to Know Iceland
While Iceland might seem like a strange and foreign land, it’s actually closer than you might thin. The distance from Washington, D.C. to Reykjavík, its capital, is under 3,000 miles. You could leave the United States after breakfast and enjoy a late dinner on one of several Iceland tours that very same day. Here are a few other things that you might not have known about this fascinating country:
The days vary wildly in length
You might be used to shorter winter days and longer summer ones, but unless you’ve visited Iceland, you’ve probably never experienced anything like its sun.
The shortest day of the year, generally around the winter solstice on Dec.21, has sunlight for under five hours! It rises around 11:30 a.m. and sets at about 3:30 p.m. On the other hand, when summer rolls around, the days get extremely long. At their longest, Reykjavík will get sunlight for about 21 hours total, with setting not occurring until after midnight.
The further north you go in the country, the more pronounced the effect will be. This unusual solar action creates some uniquely picturesque landscapes – and a market for curtains so that residents can occasionally get some rest.
Iceland has some of the world’s most interesting food
While Iceland might not have the same international reputation for cuisine as some other countries, perhaps it should: it is home to some of the world’s freshest and most delicious delicacies. And considering that the average lifespan of a resident is 81 years, one of the longest in the world, it seems like those dishes are pretty healthy as well.
A big part of the Icelandic diet is seafood, which primarily comes from small family farms. One of its biggest fish exports is Arctic char, which is enjoyed around the world and has a mild, sweet flavor. Because of environmental regulations aimed at assuring the quality of the fish, it is nearly uniformly delicious.
Iceland has food for red meat lovers as well. The lambs there are fed a pure organic diet, and because of the availability of sunlight, grow to be big and strong. This cultivation leads to lean meat that is healthy and full of flavor.
There are also cuisines for adventurous eaters. The country is famous for hákarl, or shark that has been buried, dried and fermented. While the unusual preservation technique definitely turns off some visitors, others are only too eager to try to the local delicacy, which has become a sort of rite of passage for foodie tourists.
Iceland is a land of peace
Unsurprisingly, Iceland is a generally peaceful, welcoming place. It does not have an official army, navy or air force, and it features one of the lowest crime rates in the world. In fact, the police don’t even carry firearms as a matter of course, and violent crime is virtually nonexistent.
According to the BBC, this in many ways can be attributed to economic harmony. The source finds, “there is virtually no difference among upper, middle and lower classes in Iceland. And with that, tension between economic classes is non-existent, a rare occurrence for any country.”
The country’s social welfare system promotes a sense of camaraderie and equal participation. As a friendly, outgoing, open people, the citizens of Iceland are as accepting of each other as they are of visitors from afar.