17. Iceland Ponies--super cute, hardy, and fun to ride; bred to be loyal and soft on the move.
16. Geologic activity--tons of volcanoes, hot springs, earthquakes. Plus, it is one of the "youngest" lands on Earth and one of the only places where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rises out of the ocean, making it integral to geologic historians.
15. Tundra Climate--not only stunningly beautiful (think cold, Northern Tolkeinian Middle Earth) but also surprisingly mild, dipping only barely below freezing during winter in capital Reykjavík. Despite its chilly name, the climate is often described as similar to that in Northern Scotland, mostly because of an ocean current which heats the West coast of the island.
14. The Sagas and Eddas--some of the most important works of Scandinavian folkloric literature, these histories were written in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, describing the earlier histories and mythologies of Iceland.
13. Turf Houses--houses covered in grass or built into hills for better insulation. Tell me these aren't the most charming things you've ever seen!
12. Birches--once the most commom native Icelandic tree, and appropriately pale and delicate.
11. Reykjavík--this beautiful capital city (and the most populous in the nation) has fewer inhabitants than Modesto, CA.
10. Arctic Foxes and Puffins--two of the cutest animal on Earth, which just happen to coexist in this magical place.
9. Scandinavian Sweaters--they keep you warm stylishly.
8. Fjords--okay, so you can find these all over Scandinavia, but tell me they aren't that much cooler in Iceland!
7. Environmental Concerns--Icelanders as a people tend to be very environmentally concerned. When you live in a place that is so directly affected by global warming, you have to be. A majority of the manufacturing processes use geothermal energy, wind power, and even tidal energy to operate.
6. Quality of Life--although it has made the news in the last year for a minor financial crisis, Iceland has, for the last five years, overall been rated in the top ten nations for quality of life in the world.
5. Reindeer--not originally native to Iceland, they were brought to the island in the 1800's, and are the largest land mammals in Iceland.
4. Jónsi and Alex--mostly the cutest couple who has ever lived, the lead singer of phenomenal band Sigur Rós and the artist who does much of the band's record design.
3. Vikings--Iceland's first settlers. Enough said.
2. Icelandic--the most beautiful language in the world, full of whimsical rolled R's and reminiscent of epic poetry, Icelandic is the closest "living" language to Old Norse. While incredibly difficult for English speakers to learn (especially if they are incapable of rolling their R's), this language imparts on its native speakers a most charming accent. Check out my earlier video of Cute Couple Jónsi and Alex to hear Jónsi's.
1. Music--Okay, just in case those who know me didn't see this one coming, let me enlighten my readers as to the magic and beauty of the Music of the North. Icelandic music tends to be all at once poetic, melancholy, epic, delicate, sacred, and fanciful, orchestrally full and climactic, yet intensel personal and quiet. Some amazing performers, the reasons why music is the number one reason Iceland roxxors my boxxors, are: Sigur Rós, Björk, Emiliana Torrini, the Sugarcubes, Bang Gang, Amiina, Ampop, and múm. Check them out--you will not be sorry!