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Monday, September 29, 2014

9 Cool Things to Know About Iceland

1. Geyser comes from the Icelandic word Geysir, meaning hot spring. That, in turn, comes from the Old Norse Geysa, meaning to rush forth.

2. Iceland is considered among the Top 10 happiest countries in the world. What's not to like? 

3. That said, Iceland could be said to be splitting apart. The country runs along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, meaning, geographically, it includes parts of both the European and North American continental plates. This phenomenon can be best seen at Þingvellir National Park, the site of Iceland's first parliament (930 AD--the world's oldest continuously-running parliament) and plenty of fissures unrelated to politics.

4.Reykjavik played host to Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986. The meeting is considered by historians as the first thaw of the Cold War....

5. ...only adding to Iceland's reputation as the most peaceful country in the world.

6. It's also one of the most progressive in political terms. Iceland had the world's first directly-elected female head of state (1980) and the world's first openly gay head of state (2009).

7. If you clicked on the links above, you'll notice the names of both female leaders end in dóttir.  This is part of the old Nordic tradition of using patronymic names. In Iceland, surnames are not passed down from generation to generation. Instead, the suffix sson or dóttir (daughter) is added to the father's first name to create a new last name. 

8. Because people are so often referred to by their first names (even in places like Parliament and the phone book), Iceland has an officially approved list of names. Given names must be "capable of having Icelandic grammatical endings" and may not "conflict with the linguistic structure of Iceland". If a name contains a letter that doesn't not exist in the Icelandic alphabet (like C, for example), said name is verboten.

9. Iceland has 3,088 miles of coastline.

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