PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT ICELAND

PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT ICELAND

Emergency numbers

Customer service team has your back 24 hours every day of the year +354 5544000 But in the event you need other assistance here is a list of Emergency services: police, fire and ambulance. Tel: 112 Search and Rescue. Tel: 570-5900 Police Station. Tel: 444-1000 International Directory Inquiries: 1811 Dental assistance. Tel: 575-0505 Health Care Services (out of hours) Tel: 1170 For lost or stolen credit cards: Visa Tel: 525-2000. American Express Tel: 800-8111 For lost or stolen credit cards: Master Card & Diners Club Tel: 533-1400/550-1500 E.R Emergency Room Landspítali Hospital. Tel: 543-2000 Icelandair Airline 24 hour. Tel: +354 5050100

Currency Exchange

The Icelandic monetary unit is the krona (plural kronur), which is abbreviated Kr or ISK. Money can be easily exchanged at the airport, bank and currency exchanges. All major credit cards are accepted and can be used to pay for virtually anything – except the public buses. Electron, Maestro and EDC debit cards are increasingly being accepted by merchants. ATM/Bank machines are found in most banks and many other locations throughout the country. Look for the Hradbanki sign.

BUSINESS HOURS

Office hours are generally M-F 9:00 to 17:00 and 8:00 to 16:00 during June, July and August. Banking hours are M-F 9:15 to 16:00. General Post Office hours are M-F 09:00–16:30. Shopping hours are M-F 9:00 to 6:00; Sat from 10:00 /11:00 to 14:00/18:00. Some food stores are open to 23:00 seven days a week or even 24 hours in the larger towns. Shopping malls, souvenir and bookshops in the city center are open on weekends.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT ICELAND

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Emergency numbers

Emergency services: police, fire and ambulance. Tel: 112

Search and Rescue. Tel: 570-5900

Police Station. Tel: 444-1000

International Directory Inquiries: 1811

Dental assistance. Tel: 575-0505

Health Care Services (out of hours) Tel: 1170

For lost or stolen credit cards: Visa Tel: 525-2000. American Express Tel: 800-8111

For lost or stolen credit cards: Master Card & Diners Club Tel: 533-1400/550-1500

E.R Emergency Room Landspítali Hospital. Tel: 543-2000

Icelandair Airline 24 hour. Tel: +354 5050100

 

Useful statistics for Iceland

  • Population: 334.309 (1 Jan 2017).
  • Religion: 86% Evangelical Lutheran.
  • Total area: 103,000 square kilometers / 39,756 square miles.
  • Capital: Reykjavik.
  • President: President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson (since 1 August 2016)
  • Former President Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimson (since 1 August 1996)
  • Prime Minister: Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (since April 2016)
  • Form of Government: Unitary Parliamentary Republic since June 17 1944.
  • Independent since 1 December 1918.
  • Approximately 7,250 square kilometers of Iceland is covered with glaciers.
  • Hvannadalshnjukur is Iceland’s highest peak (2110 m).
  • Jokulsarlon glacial reservoir is Iceland’s deepest lake (284 m).
  • An average Icelandic male is 1,80 m, 88 kg and 33.9 years old.
  • An average Icelandic female is 1,67 m, 73 kg and 35.3 years old.
  • For two to three months in summer there is continuous daylight in Iceland.
  • The mean annual temperature for Reykjavik is 5˚C, the average in January temperature being -0.4 ˚C and July 11.2 ˚C.

 

Iceland’s location

Iceland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean just south of the Arctic Circle. It lies about 970 kilometers west of Norway and about 287 kilometers southeast from Greenland. Iceland is geologically located on both the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate.

 

 

When should I travel to Iceland?

You can travel to Iceland at any time. Iceland is great and beautiful in every season. The main visiting season lasts from mid-May until early September. During this time there are long daylight hours. Traveling in Iceland off-season – winter, spring and late autumn – can also be very special and is the best time to search for the Northern Lights. From the beginning of July most interior and highland routes are open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The History of Iceland

The first people believed to have settled in Iceland were Irish monks who came in the eighth century AD. They left, however, upon the arrival of pagan Norsemen, who came in 874 to seek freedom from Norway’s oppressive king Harald Fairhair. In 930 the Icelanders founded the Althingi, their supreme general assembly – the oldest extant parliament in the world. Christianity was adopted in the year 1000. In 1262, Iceland became subject to Norwegian control and in 1380 came under Danish control, along with Norway. After the granting of a constitution (1874) and with an improving economy, Iceland, in 1918, finally became an independent sovereign state under a common king with Denmark. The Republic of Iceland was formally declared on June 17, 1944.

 

Icelanders

Are quite Scandinavian, exceptionally friendly, highly educated, sophisticated, attractive, honest and very modern. Their ancestors were predominately Norwegian, although some came from the British Isles.

 

Languages in Iceland

The country’s written and spoken language is Icelandic, a Nordic language very similar to the language spoken by Iceland’s first settlers. Icelandic is one of the oldest living languages in Europe. English and Danish are mandatory subjects in school.

Most Icelanders speak fluent English. In fact, they welcome the opportunity – so never be shy about approaching an Icelander.

 

The Icelandic Population

The Icelandic population was 332,529 on 1 Jan 2016. There are about 4 times that many sheep in Iceland. Iceland is the least populated country in Europe (seventh in the world). Most of the people are of Norwegian as well as Celtic descent from those who came from Ireland and the Scottish islands from the time of settlement.

 

 

 

What do Icelanders eat?

Icelanders now have a diet that is close to the recommendations of nutritionists. Consumption of saturated fats has been reduced while fruit and vegetables are eaten more often. However, some developments are not so positive, as sugar consumption has increased. Boys drink an average of one liter of sweet, carbonated drinks every day. Their sugar intake is also exceedingly high at 143 grams of added sugar per day. Altogether more than 50 kg annually! Girls consume less sugar and drink more water than boys. At the same time, consumption of coffee has decreased. Icelanders now eat more poultry than before and less lamb. Fish consumption is dropping, which is a move away from traditional Icelandic eating habits. In 1990, Icelanders ate more fish than any other European nation, but current consumption is similar to most other countries in Europe. The proportion of fat in food has fallen and is now close to acceptable levels. Although Icelanders eat more sugar, their dental health has improved greatly thanks to improved dental hygiene and regular visits to dentists. Surveys show that tooth decay in the adult population dropped by 70% between 1986 and 1996. This figure was only 50% among children but still represents a significant improvement.

 

What is there to see besides nature?

Nature is obviously a big part of the Icelandic experience – but it is by no means the only part. Reykjavik is one of the liveliest, safest, most sophisticated and modern cities there is, and its nightlife and cultural activities have earned an exciting reputation. Other towns, such as Akureyri in the north, are also great for visiting. For those who want to see both city and nature, the wilds begin just outside urban communities and a wide range of sightseeing tours are on offer from most of them.

 

 

Weather

Iceland is not considered a warm place by any normal standards, but thanks to the Gulf Stream temperatures are usually moderate all year round. Average temperatures in July are about 12 °C in Reykjavik and it is usually a bit warmer in the North and East of Iceland. It doesn’t snow as much in Iceland as many people think, especially in Reykjavik where there is generally very little snow to be seen, even during winter. However, in the north and east of Iceland and in the West Fjords, there is more snow during winter. A big factor in Icelandic weather is that it is unpredictable; you never know what is going to happen next. A beautiful day can suddenly turn windy and rainy (and vice versa), and you can expect to see every weather imaginable in only a couple of days in Iceland, especially in late autumn and early spring.

 

Month °C °F
January -1.3 29.7
February 1.0 33.8
March 2.1 35.8
April 4.0 39.2
May 7.2 44.9
June 13.1 55.6
July 15.2 59.4
August 13.3 55.9
September 13.0 55.4
October 6.1 43.0
November 3.7 38.7
December -0.8 30.6

Daylight

The daylight in Iceland is from mid-May to mid-August and the sun only sets for around 3 hours per day, and there is effectively light for the whole 24-hour period. In midwinter, there are around 5 hours of effective daylight. These long and short periods of daylight add drama to the atmosphere with lingering twilight.

 

Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the capital and the largest city of Iceland. It is located in southwestern Iceland on the southern shore of Faxafloi bay. Reykjavik is known worldwide for its wonderful amalgamation of unique boutiques and shops. A sense of fashion is central to the charm of the city, and the creative products that consistently originate from Reykjavik ensure that it remains at the cutting edge of art, culture and style. Reykjavik means “smoky bay” in Icelandic. It received this moniker as a result of the geothermal steam witnessed by the country’s first settler, Ingolfur Arnarson.

  • 61% of Icelandic population lives in the Reykjavik area
  • Reykjavik population: about 120.000
  • Greater Reykjavik area population: about 202.000
  • There are 180 licensed pubs in Reykjavik

 

Northern lights

The solar wind is a constant flow of atomic particles from the surface of the sun. These particles travel at extremely high speeds as they approach the Earth. They are generally repelled by the gravitational field, although some of them enter our atmosphere. When the charged particles collide with gas molecules, energy is released in a manner similar to fluorescent light. This light is called the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. The lights, which shimmer and shift due to the constant movement of the particles, are normally only visible near the North and South Poles because of the structure of the Earth’s magnetic field. Many tourists come to Iceland during the dark winter specifically to watch the spectacular displays of Northern Lights. They are more clearly visible away from the Reykjavik area, where there are fewer streetlamps lighting up the surroundings.

 

How to drive in Iceland

Driving around Iceland in a rented car or your own vehicle gives you more freedom and greater options than the bus system. Most of Route 1, which runs around the perimeter of Iceland are fully surfaced except for a gravel run between lake Myvatn and Egilsstaðir in the north-eastern part of Iceland. Many other roads are gravel surfaced, but in the summertime they should be fairly easy to drive on, although they tend to slow the traveler down a bit.

 

Monetary unit in Iceland

The Icelandic monetary unit is the “krona” (plural “kronur”) (ISK).

Coins are in denominations of: 100 kr, 50 kr, 10 kr, 5 kr, 1 kr.

Bank notes are in denominations of: 10.000 kr, 5000 kr, 2000 kr, 1000 kr, 500 kr.

All major currencies can be exchanged at the airport, banks and currency exchanges. Visa and MasterCard are accepted almost anywhere, and ATMs are easy to find.

 

Sport

Icelanders will ceremonially announce that handball is their national sport, although it is a long way from being the most popular; football has far more participants. In 2002, there were 16,000 footballers and 1,000 golfers. Around 6,000 played handball. Two sports that show constantly increasing popularity are golf and equestrian sports with 7,000 people riding regularly. Other popular sports are athletics and swimming. One sport that has increased rapidly in popularity in recent years is couch football. This increasing appeal is attributed to the large number of live broadcasts from the best competitions in the world, such as the English Premier League and the European Champions League. Many Icelandic sportsmen have competed professionally at top levels all over the world.

 

Electricity

Icelandic electrical standards are European (50Hz, 240 volts) so many North American electrical devices will require converters. Plugs are generally two-pin, so devices brought in from the UK and North America will require adapters.

 

Alcohol and smoking

Icelanders drink less alcohol than most other Scandinavians (the Norwegians drink less). Icelanders and Norwegians are in the group of Europeans that drink the least. A typical Icelandic family, however, spends more money on alcohol than on coffee, tea, cocoa, fizzy drinks and water put together! Beer was prohibited in Iceland for more than 80 years until it was permitted in 1989, and consumption has increased steadily since then. Consumption of spirits fell during the same period. Many believe that the country’s drinking culture has improved in recent years and there is now less drunkenness. Modern Icelanders have a growing taste for fine wines. People are more likely to drink wine with their food. Fewer teenagers go to summer festivals now, where many in the past drank alcohol for the first time. Most of these festivals are held on the public holiday at the beginning of August. Icelanders drink more heavily when they travel abroad, where prices are invariably lower than at home. They are also different to most other cultures in that they drink little during the week, choosing to indulge themselves more at weekends. 22% of Icelanders smoke. As in most Western countries, the number of people using tobacco has fallen in recent years. It is prohibited to smoke in restaurants and cafes, similar to laws now in force in Ireland and Norway. Icelandic women smoke more heavily than women in most other countries.

 

Alcohol can only be purchased at the state-run liquor store, Vinbudin, or served on the premises of bars, restaurants, and cafes. Vinbudin stores can be found in nearly every city and town around the country.

 

Tax Free

A refund of local Value-Added Tax (VAT) is available to all visitors in Iceland. The refund will result in a reduction of up to 15% of the retail price, provided departure from Iceland is within 3 months after the date of purchase. The purchase amount must be no less than ISK 6000 (VAT included) per transaction. All goods (except woolens) need to be shown at customs before check-in. At Keflavik airport this applies only to tax-free forms whose refund value exceeds ISK 5000.

 

Reading

Icelanders regard themselves as a literate nation, and in 2000, a total of 1,137 books were published. The country’s interest in books is never more obvious than at Christmas time when advertisements for the latest publications flood the newspapers and television screens. Christmas books are an Icelandic phenomenon; Icelanders crowd into shops to buy books for friends and relatives. Biographies are still popular, but crime fiction is seen more and more often on the best seller lists. Arnaldur Indridason has claimed top spot for his detective novels during the last few years. Icelanders are very proud of their Nobel Prize-winning author, Halldor Laxness. His books sell well and are the subject of many further education courses. Universal literacy came early to Iceland, and less than 3% of the population is unable to read. This is similar to other Scandinavian countries.

 

 

 

 

Tipping policy

Service and VAT are invariably included in prices in Iceland and tipping is never required. However, if you are very pleased with provided service, Icelanders are generally not offended if they are offered a tip.

 

Opening hours of stores

Shopping hours are generally from 10:00 until 18:00 Monday to Friday. On Saturdays most shops are open from 10:00 until 16:00. Opening hours of stores vary greatly between places, especially in the countryside. Office hours are generally from 09:00 to 17:00 and opening hours of banks and post offices are generally from 09:00 to 16:00.

 

Post offices

There are post offices located in all major communities in Iceland. General hours are: Monday to Friday 09:00-16:30. Many post offices in Reykjavik are also open during the weekends.

 

Pharmacies

Icelanders enjoy a healthy life, thanks to clean air, water and quality fish. Water is safe to drink throughout Iceland. Pharmacies are called “apotek” and are open during normal business hours. Many are open at night. Reykjavik has many great general practitioners, as well as specialists, many of whom will receive patients at short notice. There are also many Health Centers in Reykjavik, with officially appointed family doctors who receive patients at short notice during the day.

 

Medical help

There are medical centers and/or hospitals in all major cities and towns in Iceland. The emergency phone number (24 hours) in Iceland is 112.

 

Health insurance policy

Citizens of Scandinavia must show a passport in case of medical emergency. Citizens of EEA countries must have the E-111 form, otherwise the patient will be charged in full. Citizens of other countries will be fully charged.

 

Internet access in Reykjavik

To check your e-mail or surf the net, drop in at one of Reykjavik’s internet cafes or cafe hot spots with free wireless Internet service. Internet service is also available at the Tourist Information Centre on Adalstraeti, and at all branches of the City Library.

 

Mobile phones and computers

Mobile phones and computers are widely used in Iceland. There are over 280,000 mobile phones in the country — almost one per person. Every Icelander over preschool age has a mobile phone and many have two. The Danes own on average 0.83 mobile phones, the Irish 0.68 and Germans 0.81. 81% of Icelanders use the Internet as opposed to 77% in Sweden and 75% in Norway. Half of all Europeans use the Internet. There are computers in 86% of Icelandic homes and four of every five homes have an Internet connection. Icelanders are quick to adopt new technologies and determined to keep up with their neighbors.

 

Mobile phone system

There are few GSM operators in Iceland: Nova, Siminn and Vodafone are the largest ones. Together they cover most of Iceland including all towns and villages with over 200 inhabitants. These telephone companies both sell pre-paid GSM phone cards and offer GSM/GPRS services. Pre-paid cards are available at petrol stations and shops around the country.

 

Telephone code

The telephone code into Iceland from overseas is +354 and then a seven-digit number. There are no area codes.

 

Visa policy

Western Europeans and citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore do not require visas. Tourist stays are permitted for up to three months. If you do not live in Western Europe or one of the countries mentioned above, then contact the Icelandic embassy or consulate in your country to make sure you have a valid visa before entering Iceland If there is not an Icelandic embassy or consulate in your country, you can approach the Danish embassy or consulate.

 

Passport

A passport or other travel document accepted by Icelandic authorities must be valid for at least three months beyond the intended stay for visitors to Iceland.

 

Outdoor clothing

We advise that you wear good shoes or boots your maximum comfort. Bring a hat, gloves and also a waterproof outer garment. Wearing three layers of lightweight upper body clothing is the most effective method for retaining warmth.

Author: admin00