8 reasons we believe Iceland is one of the happiest nations

Sunset over glacier - 8 reasons we believe Iceland is one of the happiest nations
Let’s have a look at some remarkable facts on Iceland! So many people have told us that it is their number one favorite travel destination in the world. The nature is extremely divers and beautiful…..glaciers, geysers, lagoons, volcanos, mountains, whales, waterfalls, caves and fjords. And with only a little over 330.000 inhabitants on 103,000 km2 it is the most sparsely populated country in Europe.

In this years World Happiness Report Iceland ranks #3 only preceded by Norway and Denmark. Why? Happiness is evenly distributed in Iceland. That is, most Icelanders are more or less equally happy, while in other nations – particularly those in the Middle East and Latin America – happiness levels vary tremendously. Research suggests that people are significantly happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness. In other words, we can achieve only so much happiness if our neighbours are miserable.

More remarkably, Iceland was one of only three countries in 2016 to maintain or improve their happiness score despite external shocks like the 2008 economic crisis or natural disasters. This should come as no surprise to the land of fire and ice, which enacted special measures to keep moral up during these times.

8 facts on Iceland that most likely have an influence on Iceland’s national happiness

  1. Icelanders have also developed a fierce resilience honed over centuries of deprivation and isolation. – Think winter darkness, volcanic eruptions and unforgiving terrain so otherworldly that NASA dispatched the Apollo astronauts here in 1965 to train for their upcoming moon walks.
  2. Per capita Iceland has the highest number of book and magazine publications and 10% of the country’s population will publish a book in their lifetimes. – Some psychologists believe that literature – and other cultural resources – provides a buffer during difficult times. Stories provide a vehicle for expressing grief, and grief expressed is grief reduced. They also provide a means for a culture to channel its creative energies. And Icelanders certainly recognise the value of the written word, an attitude reflected in a common Icelandic saying: “Better to go barefoot than without books.
  3. Beer remained illegal in Iceland until the 1st of march 1989 – This is strange for a country where the inhabitants LOVE their alcohol. The Icelanders still ‘celebrate’ the 1st of March – Bjordagur (Beer Day) – each year drinking some beers.
  4. Babies in Iceland are routinely left outside to nap while mom’s and dads catch up with their friends inside a bar. – The fresh and clean Icelandic air will do the baby good and it won’t wake up form the chatter and laughter inside the café
  5. First names not previously used in Iceland must be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee.
  6. Iceland does not have an army, navy or air force. – Above that the Icelandic police don’t carry guns. Crime in Iceland is very low and violent crime is practically non-existent.
  7. Icelanders have an app called ÍslendingaApp to check if their potential romantic interest is actually a little-known cousin or long-lost aunt. – In Iceland, there has been little immigration over the years. This means there is not as much genetic diversity as on larger land masses. Go back a few generations and most Icelanders will find they are related to each other.
  8. Not a funny or positive fact, but Iceland is known as the country with the highest rate of antidepressant use in the world. – Some argue this is due to the financial crisis, others because of the long winters, but a shocking fact is that the estimated rate of depression is between 15-25% (meaning residents are expected to experience depression at some point).

Last but not least. According to Michael Booth,  54 per cent of Icelanders believe in elves. At least that is what he writes in his book ‘The Almost Nearly Perfect People: the Truth about the Nordic Miracle’.

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