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About Iceland

Iceland is an island nation in the North Atlantic, slightly crossing the Arctic Circle at the north tip of the country. Or as we say; at the top of the world.

Its capital, Reykjavík, is the northernmost capital in the world. The Icelandic population is about 280.000 people and the language is Icelandic.

Icelandic Music
Iceland has a rich music culture.

Most people know Björk but there are also many other Icelandic musicians and bands that are worth taking notice of. For example Quarashi, GusGus, Ampop, múm, Bang Gang, Ensími and Ske.

A good source for Icelandic music related sites is musik.is.

You can also buy nearly all icelandic music on the tónlist.com website.

International musicians sometimes make a stopover in Iceland while touring between North America and Europe and have a concert for the Icelanders. And because it's not an everyday event everybody will show up and have a really good time.

Sayings like, "There is no weather in Iceland, only samples" or "If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes," indicate the variability of the Icelandic climate. It is cool, temperate and oceanic.

For two to three months in summer there is continuous daylight in Iceland, and early spring and late autumn enjoy long twilights. The really dark period (three to four hours daylight) lasts from about mid-November until the end of January.

The temperature can go up to 25° C in the summer and the down to -20° C in the winter depending on your location. Near the ocean it only goes to maybe -10° C on the coldest days of winter.

You might think that the Icelandic people have adapted to the cold but they are not. Icelandic houses are heated with hot water all year around and the temperature inside is between 20° C and 25° C. The Icelandic people are used to the darkness, which means that they can handle less daylight without getting depressed. A smaller percent of the population gets depressed because of the darkness in the wintertime in Iceland than does in Florida in the USA. .

Icelandic name tradition
By law, Icelanders must follow the ancient tradition of deriving their last name from the first name of their father (patronymic system). For example, if a man named Jóhann (John) names his son Davíð (David), the son's last name will be Jóhannsson (John's son). His daughter Helga would be named Helga Jóhannsdóttir (John's daughter). She would keep her own name even if she marries. In recent years, mothers' names have also been used in last names as in Helga Rakel Guðrúnardóttir (Gudrun's daughter).

Members of a family can therefore have many different last names, which sometimes causes confusion to foreigners and problems for Icelandic families travelling abroad.

For this reason, Icelanders are referred to by their first names. Last names are never used alone, and two first names are very common.

Photographs © Anna Guðrún Torfadóttir