20 Mind-Blowing Facts About Iceland That Will Make You Think It’s From Another World

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Image: greenzowie / BERNARD MERIC/AFP/Getty Images
Image: greenzowie / BERNARD MERIC/AFP/Getty Images

Iceland is an astonishing country. Caught between continents, it retains – sometimes enforced by law – some of the culture and language of the Vikings who first settled here. It’s sparsely populated and most people live on the coast. Why? Because its interior is full of live volcanoes and colossal glaciers. Oh, and elves. Lots of elves.

Image: Atis Gailis / Fingalo

20. Elves apparently share Iceland with people…

Many Icelanders still believe in magical beings called Huldufólk, or “hidden people.” According to a 1995 survey, as many as 70 percent of Icelanders thought that they coexisted with elves. A later survey in 2006 found that people were more doubtful – but not completely disabused – of their belief in hidden folk.

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Image: via The DAILY REVOLUTION

19. …and that’s not good news for planning permissions

Because of this belief in magical creatures, there are sometimes problems seeking planning permission in areas where they are thought to live. For example, Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir, a kind of elf conservationist, protested the building of a major road for fear of vengeful elves and “very bad things” happening.

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