Iceland marks National Day on June 17

Iceland marks national day on June 17, commemorating the foundation of the Republic of Iceland on 17 June 1944 and its independence from Danish rule.

The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, a major figure of Icelandic culture and the leader of the 20th century independence movement of the country.

The celebration traditionally takes the form of a parade through each urban area with a brass band at the fore. Riders on Icelandic horses often precede the brass band and flagbearers from the Icelandic scout organization traditionally follow the brass band.

After the parade several speeches are held out in the open, including one from Fjallkonan (the woman of the mountain). She represents the fierce spirit of the Icelandic nation and of Icelandic nature. After speeches and other official authorities are over, a less formal celebration takes place with musicians entertaining the crowd, candy being devoured by children in huge quantities, and gas-filled balloons escaping their owners and flying to the sky. It is also somewhat traditional to expect rain on this day, particularly in the Southwest of Iceland.


Interesting facts

  • Iceland is the second biggest island in Europe.
  • Before the Global Financial Crisis, Iceland was one of the richest countries in the world with 1 Euro = 80 Icelandic Krona. Today, 1 Euro = 158 Icelandic Krona.
  • Iceland’s parliament was formed in 930 AD, making it the oldest parliament in the world.
  • Iceland is warmer than most European capital cities in winter with an average temperature of zero degrees Celsius.
  • The longest day in Iceland happens in June where the sun rises before 3am and sets at midnight – over 21 hours of daylight!
  • The shortest day in Iceland is December 21st with the country only receiving 3-4 hours of sunlight.
  • There are 200 volcanoes in Iceland, 120 of which are still active. All of them rest of tectonic plates. There is a volcanic eruption every 4 years on average.
  • Lava covers 11% of Iceland, which is one-third of all lava in the world. 11% of Iceland consists of glaciers. 20% is farming and 8% is housing.
  • Reykjavik is the only capital city in the world that has a salmon river running right through it.
  • There are no mosquitoes in Iceland!
  • There is no pollution in Iceland and you can drink water straight from the tap.
  • There are 5000 different species of moss growing in Iceland.
  • Icelanders drink more Coca-Cola per capita than any other nation.
  • Icelanders still believe in hidden people (elves and trolls). They even build roads around rocks believed to be inhabited by elves instead of destroying them which is why some of their roads are windy.
  • Iceland runs on nearly 100% sustainable green energy. Approximately 75% of the nation’s electricity is generated by hydroelectric power and 25% comes from geothermal energy. Just 0.1% comes from fossil fuels.
  • The majority of Icelandic houses are heated by geothermal water.
  • Iceland’s streets are heated by geothermal water so they do not become slippery in winter.
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