It’s a 7 hour flight from Vancouver to Iceland and there is a 7 hour time difference. The flight left at 7 pm and arrived around 9 am the next day. We met our friends John and Nancy from Denver at the airport and headed to the hotel. We did a tour of the city and learned a few things a bit about the island and its people:
There are no indigenous people in Iceland. Iceland is a relatively new island and was never attached to any other continents so any people that arrived would have had to come by boat. Those people were the Vikings – with the first arrival around 870 AD.
With a population of 350,000, there are no armed forces, only 3 coast guard vessels whose main concern is illegal fishing within coastal waters.
There is also very little crime in Iceland. The homicide rate is around 1.8 for the entire population per year. There are only 200 prison ‘cells’ in Iceland with rehab rather than punishment being the main purpose. Because of the limited number of cells, there is a waiting list. Those on the waiting list are considered on probation and many never see the inside of a prison cell.
Literacy in Iceland is universal and more books are published and read in Iceland than in any other country in the world. School is mandatory up to age 16 and university is free to Icelanders.
Icelanders have two official languages: Icelandic and English. Icelandic is a language that evolved from 9th century Norwegian and is very different from Norwegian today.
For me of course it’s all about pictures – but I’m not including any in this post. The reason is that I can’t do the place justice using my iPad editor. I’m not even sure I can do the place justice without coming back sometime later with a tripod. The south of Iceland is amazing. 10% of the land mass is glacier and the impact of recent volcanic activity is everywhere. In a given day, if you haven’t seen 10 waterfalls, you havent travelled very far; black sandy beaches, hexagonal basalt columns; lagoons filled with icebergs; huge lava fields; multiple glaciers with the largest (Vatnajökull) covering 8000 square kilometres and up to 1000 meters thick. What I found most interesting though were the farms nestled under green mountains. If I come back, I will probably skip the waterfalls which number in the 1000’s and focus more on the homes and communities and the background within which they exist. So far we have covered the south of the island and are now in the east (East Fjordlands). We continue our journey north and eventually will cover the “ring road” around the island before returning home.