Iceland has a tiny population – only 322,000 people – but it is impressive for a country of any size. The country boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world, 99%, and unsurprisingly is home to a large number of writers and poets. Here are six things you didn’t know were Icelandic.
1. The world’s first female president
In 1980 Vigdis Finnbogadottir made history by becoming the worlds first democratically elected female president. Not that it was without debate, though. Before her inauguration there was discussion over whether a woman, and a single mother, could handle the responsibilities that came with being president. Vigdís proved her doubters wrong and went on to become a very beloved and well-respected leader. Iceland is one of the countries which has come the closest to achieving gender equality.
2. Of Monsters and Men
This Icelandic indie folk-pop band formed in 2010 and released their debut album in 2011. By March 2013 they had sold over two million copies in the US alone. Last year alone the band performed in T in the Park Festival in Scotland, Lollapalooza in Brazil and Chile, Coachella, Bonnaroo Music Festival and Glastonbury Festival. The band sings solely in English.
3. Lazy Town
LazyTown is an educational musical children’s television program with a cast and crew from Iceland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Performed entirely in English, It was filmed and produced at 380 Studios, a purpose-built studio near Reykjavík. The show follows Stephanie, an optimistic girl with bright pink hair, and has won many awards for children’s programming around the world.
4. Quiz Up
Quiz Up is a mobile trivia app similar to Trivial Pursuit created by an Icelandic startup called Plain Vanilla Games. It is currently the world’s biggest trivia game with more than 600 different topics. Over a billion matches have been played in over 197 countries as of March 2014 and it recently passed the 20 million user mark. The games have also been translated into five different languages – none of which are Icelandic, ironically.
The word geyser comes from the Icelandic verb, geysa, which means “to gush”. The English usage of the word was originally derived from Geysir (The Great Geysir) which is the first geyser mentioned in print and the first one known to Europeans. Iceland is home to many famous geysers, due to the high volcanic activity on the island.
6. The world’s first openly gay head of government
If being home to the world’s first female president wasn’t enough, Iceland also became home to the world’s first openly gay prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, in 2009. That same year, Forbes listed her among the 100 Most Powerful Women in the world.
From this list, it is evident that Iceland has a small but highly creative and enterprising population. From music to leaders who pave the way to technology start-ups, we have a lot to thank Iceland for!
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