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According to a research Newsweek made Iceland is the best place in the world for a woman to live in.
We got 100 out of 100 for justice.
90,5 for health.
96,7 for education.
88 for economics.
92.8 for politics.
We had a gay female Prime Minister for 4 years (2009-2013) and we had the first woman president in the world, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir who was our president from 1980-1996.
There are ca 2.000 more men in Iceland than women - men: 161.227 and women: 158.909 in 2010.
But even if women have it good in Iceland there still is the difference in salaries... when is that going to change, and honestlly what is that about!!??
Updated May 4, 2013
The historical data of the Icelandic national costume date back to the 16h century. There are 5 types of national costumes here for women; the bodice (upphlutur), "faldbúningur", "peysuföt", "skautbúningur" and kirtle (kyrtill). I think the "skautbúningur" is so beautiful, my mother got married to my father in such an a beautiful blue "skautbúningur".
Women wear these costumes only on special occasions, like the 17th of June which is our national holiday. My grandmother wore her national costume, the bodice, to weddings and major events in the family. And the older generation wore the costume much more often than we do. I have only worn the bodice once. I went to a business college called Verslunarskólinn and there we have a traditional day called "Peysufatadagurinn" or the traditional costume day where all the women students wear the traditional costume for a whole day. We go down-town and dance, go to dinner and to a ball, dressed all day long in the traditional costume. So if you are ever down-town Reykjavík and see a group (maybe 100 people or more) dressed in the traditional costume, then the group is from Verslunarskólinn.
But it doesn´t come cheap and a national costume can cost ISK 1.000.000! The price ranges from ISK 500.000 and it gets more expensive with the adornaments of silver. So if one is only going to wear it once for a special occasion, one has to get it on loan from a person who has invested in one or inherited it from a grandmother or a mother.
The traditional costume for men is not that recognised, I guess men don't like that much to dress up, but there are two costumes, one called the farmer's costume and the other one was designed in 1994 (on the 50th birthday of the Icelandic republic) and is called regalia (hátíðarbúningur) and is very beautiful and fitting I think.
My 1. photo is of different national costumes: faldbúningur, upphlutur (bodice), peysuföt, upphlutur (bodice).
My 2. photo is taken on our Cultural night and the women are wearing the bodice and the men are wearing the regalia.
My 3. photo is of: upphlutur (bodice), skautbúningur and kyrtill (kirtle).
My 4. photo is of peysuföt.
Updated Oct 11, 2012
The most common male name here in Iceland is JÓN and the most common female name here is GUÐRÚN.
Other male names on the top of that list are: Sigurður, Guðmundur, Gunnar, Ólafur and Einar.
And other female names on the top of that list are: Anna, Sigríður, Kristín, Margrét and Helga.
Now the younger generation is giving different names to their children, Aron and Alexander are very popular f.ex. now.
There is a Name´s Committee here in Iceland that decides on which names are allowed and which names are not - imagine that!
Updated Oct 9, 2012
Although our hot water is geothermal water and has a distinctive smell, our cold water is very pure. You can drink our cold water from the tap and we have big reserves of pure cold water. Iceland has got the biggest water reserves in the world.
So you really don't have to buy bottled water here, if you have bought a bottle at the airport f.ex., just refill it with water from the tap.
Sodastream is big here in Reykjavík, you just fill your bottle with pure water from the tap and "sodastream" it and get your own homemade fizzy water :) I use that a lot.
But despite the clean water we have in abundance, we Icelanders drink a LOT of soda pop here, gigantic amounts of soda pop really. In 1960 we used to drink 18,7 liters of soda pop a year, but now we drink 173 a year per person over the age of 10. I guess we do not always appreciate what is right in front of us.
Updated Oct 9, 2012
I have only added a few Icelandic custom tips here on my Iceland pages. But I have added many, many custom tips on my Reykjavík pages f.ex.: drinking habits, homosexuality in Iceland, Icelandic, gender equality, different festivals, Christmas traditions, big trucks and many more.
So please look up these pages if you want to know more about Icelandic customs.
Seeing that my Reykjavík page is getting very big I transferred a lot of Icelandic tips from there to this page.
Updated Jul 31, 2012
Icelandic surnames are a bit confusing to foreigners as our surname derives from our father's first name plus "-son" (son) and "-dóttir" (daughter). F.ex. my father's name was Ragnar so my surname is Ragnarsdóttir (daughter of Ragnar) and my brother's surname is Ragnarsson (son of Ragnar). So in my family only my sister and I have the same surname.
When we Icelandic women get married we keep our surname, so my name will always be Ragnarsdóttir. But when foreign women get married to Icelandic men it becomes a little confusing as they often change their maiden name to their husband´s surname, and are thus called f.ex. Hjálmarsson (son of Hjálmar)!! Married couple not having the same surname, and their children not having the same surname as their father and mother, used to cause confusion abroad and I remember my Uncle telling me that when he went abroad once, many years ago, with his wife the hotel reception didn't want to give them the same room as they didn't have the same surname ;)
This is the most common custom, but there are some variations to this, you can f.ex. get your mother's name if the mother is a single parent, my son would then be called Regínuson ;) There are also some family names in Iceland, my mother's family name is Thomsen, as her great-grandfather was Danish. But she had to be Christened by this name or else she would have been Pétursdóttir as her father's name was Pétur Thomsen.
There are ca 9.000 family names in Iceland and ca 27.000 people are registered with family names. The most common ones are Hansen, Blöndal and Thorarensen.
So when looking up an Icelandic person in the phone-directory you look them up by their first name.
Updated Mar 5, 2012
Our main export is not fish but aluminium.
Iceland is in the 17th place of the largest fishing nation, catching 2% of all the fish caught in the world. 39% of our export earnings come from fish.
6,8% of the population in Iceland were foreign citizens (January 1st, 2010).
Most foreign citizens travelling through our international airport are British citizens.
95% of all 16 year olds are in college.
Two out of three graduates from University are women.
79% of all our electric power usage goes to the heavy industry.
7 Icelandic movies premiered in 2008.
91% of the nation uses the Internet daily.
5% of the Icelandic nation support UNICEF, which is the highest percent of supporters per capita in the world.
Icelanders are the 4th fattest nation in Europe (some of us).
0,01% of the nation is deaf - ca 300 people.
8,2% of the nation are immigrants (2010) or 26.171, most of them Polish immigrants (10.058). The second largest group of immigrants are Lithuanians. The highest percentage was in 2009 when 9% of the nation were immigrants. Since the crisis in October 2008 a lot of them have moved away. In 1996 immigrants were only 2,1% of the nation (5.357).
In 1996 0,1% of the nation were second generation immigrants, but in 2010 this number had raised to 0,8% or 2.254.
Iceland is in the second place for the countries with the best democracy, right after Norway.
83% of Icelanders are on Facebook.
There are ca 147.000 horses here in Iceland which is the highest number of horses in the world per capita.
In Iceland is the lowest infant deaths in the world (it didn't used to be this way though).
Icelanders have the longest working hours compared to Scandinavia and many other European countries.
The Cost of living in Iceland
I have added this tip under general tips as well, as I never know which tips to add there, and I will be adding more facts in time as I come by more facts about Iceland and Icelanders.
Updated Jan 29, 2012
Icelanders speak Icelandic, a language so similar to what the Vikings spoke that the Vikings and the modern Icelander could easily have a conversation. The Vikings who came here in ca 874 were from Norway, so Icelandic is old Norwegian. The Norwegian spoken in Norway today is quite different from the language which has been preserved here, and we can only understand Norwegian today as we have to study Danish in school (and Danish and Norwegian are very similar). But the Scandinavian nations cannot understand Icelandic.
The Norwegian Vikings kidnapped some Irish women on their way to Iceland, so there is also some Celtic influence, I would say.
The remoteness of the island for decades and decades made it easy for us to preserve the language. Of course there have been some Danish influences on Icelandic seeing that we were a Danish colony, but the language is very well preserved. We even have a special committee on the preservation of the language. Their role is to make up a new word for loanwords. F.ex. computer=tölva, lap-top=fartölva, police=lögregla, design=hönnun. This makes it harder for foreigners to learn our language, but I think these words are a lovely addition to Icelandic.
The first foreign language we learn here is Danish, when I was younger we had it at school when I was 10 and then started learning English when we were 12. So almost the whole nation speaks English, we are not so keen on speaking Danish though, seeing that the pronunciation is somewhat difficult. Then some of us have German and French at college.
We use some letters in Icelandic which are not commonly seen: f.ex. the letter "æ" which is a and e put together. And "ð" which I have only seen in the Serbian language, but pronounced quite differently. We also have "þ" which is pronounced "th". We also use "ö" like the Swedes and the Germans.
Here are a few phrases in Icelandic:
Góðan daginn = good morning or good day. This is what sales-people in the stores will say to you.
Góða kvöldið = good evening
Góða nótt = good night
Hafðu það gott = have a nice day
Bless = good bye
Skál = cheers
Takk (fyrir) = thank you
Gjörðu svo vel = please eat, please enter, please take this.
Takk fyrir matinn = thanks for dinner. These two sentences are quite necessary in Iceland, always say "gjörðu svo vel" when inviting people to eat at your place, and "takk fyrir matinn" when standing up from the table.
Velkomin = welcome
Fyrirgefðu = I'm sorry
Afsakið = excuse me
Ég tala ekki íslensku = I don't speak Icelandic.
And yes, we say "ha" a lot if we don't hear what you say :)
The website I add is from Youtube - pronounciation of a few common Icelandic phrases.
Updated Jan 29, 2012
Skyr is a dairy product which used to be unique to Iceland and very popular here. The Vikings settlers brought the knowledge of skyr-making with them when they came over from Norway in ca 874.
Skyr is really thick, made from pasteurized skim-milk which is cultured and concentrated. It contains no fat, but a high percentage of protein. It comes with all kinds of different flavours now, see my photos. When I was younger we bought a very thick chunk of skyr, unblended, and added sugar and water or milk to it and mixed it. It was traditionally eaten with milk or cream and sugar on top and it was/is a stable in the Icelandic diet. Sometimes skyr is called the Icelandic cheese ;)
There are always new and new skyr products coming on the market, the latest idea being sea-weed/blueberry/honey skyr :) which we are waiting for (Nov. 2011). It is made with 100% Icelandic ingredients.
And now there are assorted chocolates made from skyr, white chocolate with skyr fillings.
Skyr can now be bought in some places in the USA now, have a look at their website for information on where it can be bought. And Icelandic skyr is becoming increasingly popular in Norway, from where the Vikings came to Iceland. It seems like skyr making died out in Scandinavia but stayed strong in Iceland (maybe it stopped being popular and the Vikings didn't hear about it, seeing that they were so isolated here on this island).
Now skyr is being sold in the USA under the name of Greek Yogurt.
Do try it, it is both healthy and yummy. Unfortunately I became allergic to dairy products when I was 19, but I remember the taste well.
Updated Jan 14, 2012
It is an old tradition to use hot springs here in Iceland to steam/cook rye-bread. The photos I include are from bread-baking in the hot springs by Geysir.
The recipe for the rye-bread is 2 kilos rye, 300 gr sugar, 2 table-spoons salt, 5 tea-spoons dry yeast and 1,75 liters water. Knead the dow and put into an empty milk-carton. Let it set for an hour. Put the cartons into the hot spring and let it bake for 24 hours. Be careful as the hot springs are like really hot and use oven mittens ;) The hot spring is then covered with a piece of wood.
Nowadays the rye-bread is baked in the oven for 24 hours as not all of us have got our own private hot springs. But those who live in the country side and have access to hot springs use them for cooking and the taste of the rye-bread baked in hot springs is stronger than of the one baked in a normal oven.
At the restaurant by Geysir the bread is served with herring and strong Icelandic "brennivín" spirit. TV-programs from many countries in the world have filmed the rye bread being steamed in the hot spring by Geysir, f.ex. from the USA, Italy and India :)
Steamed rye-bread is best eaten with butter. You can buy it in all food-stores.
A word of warning though, the Icelandic name for rye-bread is "rúgbrauð", but another name for rye-bread here in Iceland is "þrumari" - you will have to find out for yourself what that means ;)
Updated Dec 27, 2011
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