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Ten amazing facts about Iceland to teach your class before a school trip

Wednesday January 13, 2016

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If you’re planning a school trip to Iceland, you probably don’t need much help getting your students excited about this particular break from the classroom. Famed for its dramatic landscapes and geothermal activity, whether you’re visiting to study the country’s unique geography or the science behind its geological formations, you’re certainly in for a treat.

To give your students a gist of just how unique this country really is, and to provide them with a little background information before they head off on their school tour to Iceland, we’ve rounded up 10 amazing facts about Iceland to teach your class before a school trip.

1. 100% of Iceland’s electricity is generated from renewable resources.

A world leader in harnessing renewable energy, Iceland is the only country on the planet that can claim their electricity (not energy) comes from entirely renewable resources. With around 80% of the country’s electricity generated from hydropower and 20% from geothermal fields, Iceland is a great example of a low carbon emission developed country.

2. 60% of Iceland’s population live in the capital city, Reykjavik.

Over half of Iceland’s population reside in Reykjavik and about 94% of the population live in urban areas. However, although the majority of people live in towns and cities, the urban areas are still fairly sparse. Iceland’s total population only amounts to a mere 329,740 people, compared to that of the UK which has a total population of around 64.1 million.

3. Icelanders have no family names.

As Icelanders still use the traditional Nordic naming system, family names don’t exist in Iceland. Instead, their surnames consist of either their father’s or mother’s first name and the addition of son or daughter. Therefore, Icelanders call everyone by their first names, even their teachers!

4. Traditional delicacies include raw puffin heart, whale blubber and sheep’s head.

If you’re new to Iceland, be careful what you order on the menu! There are numerous unusual dishes in Iceland which have rather an acquired taste, many of which we can’t imagine going down too well with teenagers. However, one traditional food we would recommend trying is Skyr; a rich and creamy, yet low-fat dairy product that resembles yoghurt.

5. Mosquitoes don’t exist in Iceland.

One thing you don’t need to pack for this school trip is insect repellent. Due to the erratic nature of Iceland’s climate, such as sudden temperature drops or temperature rises, mosquitoes don’t have sufficient time to complete their lifecycle and therefore can’t reproduce.

6. The country previously voted one of their favourite comedians and ex-punk rocker, Jon Gnarr as Mayor of Reykjavik.

Serving as Mayor of Reykjavik from 2010-2014, Jon Gnarr was elected by the residents of the city, representing the Best Party. The one-of-a-kind politician, with zero experience in politics, made quite an impact during his four-year term. After saying that he wouldn’t enter a coalition government with anyone who hadn’t watched his favourite TV show, The Wire, he granted permission for the construction of Iceland’s first mosque, campaigned for scrapping the law that citizens have to have traditional Icelandic names and showed his support for Gay Pride by dressing up in full drag.

7. Iceland is the best country in the world (per capita).

Due to its tiny population, when it comes to measuring qualities per capita, Iceland usually comes out on top. For instance, they claim to have the most beautiful women in the world (per capita) and have produced the most music and bands in the world (per capita). It’s also the safest country on earth and one of the happiest, hence you might find a few Icelanders claiming that they live in the best country in the world during your trip!

8. The country ranks number one on the Gender Gap Index 2015, meaning it’s the best place in the world to be a woman.

Leading the way for gender equality, Iceland is the best place in the world to be woman. With the highest literacy rate and highest enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary education for both genders on the globe, Iceland is a great place to live for both men and women.

9. It’s custom for mothers to leave their babies outside to nap.

During your school tour to Iceland, you might spot a few seemingly abandoned prams around Reykjavik. This is because it’s common for mothers to leave their babies outside to nap while they stay indoors. The convention stems from traditional Icelandic homes being rather smoky from cooking and the common belief in the benefits of fresh air to strengthen children’s immune systems.

10. It’s illegal to own a pet snake, lizard or turtle in Iceland.

If you’re a reptile lover, it’s probably best not to move to Iceland. The ban is thought to have come about after a pet turtle gave its owner salmonella in the 1990s, resulting in the nation fearing reptiles and amphibians could spread infection. Dogs were also previously banned as pets in the 1920s, and although no longer illegal, you’ll probably find you’ll spot far more cats than dogs during your trip!

If you’re thinking about organising a school trip to this spectacular country, get in touch with one of our specialist team members who can create a bespoke trip to suit your student’s needs.

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