20 Questions about Iceland (Answers!)

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[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]
Here are the answers to the ‘20 Questions about Iceland‘ quiz from OtC writer and editor Mingming Shi on 4 December.

1) Please identify the international organisation of which Iceland is not a member.

A. European Union
B. European Free Trade Association
C. Nordic Council
D. Arctic Council

A) Iceland applied for EU membership nine months after the 2008 financial crisis first hit, however, the application was withdrawn due to many reasons, such as the controversial benefits and costs of joining the organisation.

2) Who was the Prime Minister of Iceland at the start of the 2008 Financial Crisis?

A. Jóhanna Vigdís Hjaltadóttir
B. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
C. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
D. Geir Haarde

D) It was Geir Harrde. Jóhanna Vigdís Hjaltadóttir is a local news reporter in Iceland; Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir came to power as Prime Minister after Geir Haarde stepped down in 2009. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson was a former President of Iceland, from 1996 to 2016.

3) In which year did Iceland gain full independence from the Kingdom of Denmark?

A. 871
B. 1908
C. 1944
D. 1945

C) Iceland gained full independence from the Kingdom of Denmark in 1944.

4) The biggest glacier in Iceland is:

A. Vatnajökull
B. Drangajökull
C. Langjökull
D. Mýrldalsjökull

A) “Vatnajökull”, which means “water glacier” in Iceland, has an area of about 7900 km2

5) Which university in Iceland was established in the early twentieth century, and open to both men and women from the beginning?

A. University of Iceland
B. University of Akureyri
C. Iceland University of the Arts
D. Reykjavik University

A) It’s the University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands). The other three universities were founded in recent decades.

6) Which of the following statements is correct?

A. There is no such political position as Vice President in Iceland
B. Most Icelandic women adopt the last name of their husbands after marriage
C. The biggest sector in the Icelandic economy is tourism
D. Icelanders are the descendants of Eddard “Ned” Stark and Catelyn and Tully

A) While Iceland does have a president, Mr Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, there is no vice-presidential post in the country. 

7) The name of Iceland’s parliament, in the Icelandic language, is: 

A. Alþingi
B. Folketing
C. Bessastaðir
D. Viðey

A) Folketing is the Danish Parliament; Bessastaðir is the name of the presidential residency in Iceland; Viðey is an island near Reykjavík, the capital of the country.

8) What is the currency of Iceland nowadays?

A. Danish Krone
B. Viking Krona
C. Nordic Krona
D. Icelandic Króna

D) Viking Krona sounds cool though. 🙂

9) Katrín Jakobsdottir, the current Prime Minister of Iceland, is affiliated with which political party?

A. Progressive Party
B. Left-Greens
C. Independence Party
D. People’s Action Party

B) There are a number of political parties in Iceland, including the Progressive Party and the Independence Party, two of the oldest. The People’s Action Party is the dominant political party in Singapore.

10) Please identify the brand name below which is not Icelandic.

A. 66º North
B. Omnom
C. Geysir
D. The North Face
E. Cintamani

D) Surprised? (North Face is an American company.)

11) How many Christmas folklore figures, (or Santa Clauses), does Iceland have, according to local legends?

A. 3
B. 7
C. 13
D. 15

C) Unlike much of the rest of Europe and North America, there are thirteen Christmas folk figures in Iceland, whose images may very much different from the expectation of a normal Santa Claus. Their appearances, preferences, personalities, etc. are diverse.

12) What does “lopapeysa” mean in Icelandic?

A. Icelandic lamb soup
B. Icelandic painting tradition
C. Icelandic wool sweater
D. The National Day of Iceland

C) Literally, “lopa” means wool, and “peysa” sweater, in Icelandic.

13) Which of the following activities cannot be done in Iceland?

A. Tasting local greenhouse grown tomatoes
B. Puffin watching
C. Glacial hiking
D. Polar bear watching

D) Normally, there are NO polar bears in Iceland, despite the name of the country suggesting vast ice sheets in its territory and a home to that species. However, the image of the animal has been used in Icelandic tourism, and frequently plush polar bears in souvenir stores, and even giant figures of polar bears, can be found in shopping streets. 

14) The last name of Björk, the Icelandic musician, is:

A. Grímsdóttir
B. Magnússdóttir
C. Guðmundsdóttir
D. She does not have a last name

C) Although her last name is rarely used. 

15) Which of these mammals is native to Iceland?

A. Icelandic sheepdog
B. Arctic fox
C. Sheep
D. Cow

B) Arctic foxes are the only mammal native to Iceland. Compared to Icelandic sheepdogs, sheep and other domestic animals, the fox’s habitats tend to be away from populated regions, and they are less noticed by visitors.

16) In 2019, Icelanders held a funeral for a melted glacier in the country, and the name of the glacier was:

A. ‘Ok’
B. ‘Yes’
C. ‘No’
D ‘Sorry’

A) Sorry, it was “Ok”, but also not okay. Due to rising temperatures in the Arctic and surrounding circumpolar regions, glaciers in Iceland are diminishing, and “Ok” was believed to be a recent victim of climate change.

17) The best conditions for northern lights observation, including in Iceland, do not include: 

A. Clear and dark sky
B. Low temperature
C. No artificial lights
D. Strong solar wind activity

B) It has been proven that there is no relation between the appearance of northern lights and outside temperatures. If you wish to observe the aurora in Iceland, try to plan your trip between late September and early March, when the sun sets earlier and the sky is more likely to be dark enough! 🙂 

18) What was the name of the volcano which erupted in 2010 and caused massive flight cancellations around Europe?

A. Öræfajökull
B. Snæfellsjökull
C. Eyjafjallajökull
D. Tindfjallajökull

C) As we all know, it was not a pleasant experience, including attempting to pronounce the tongue-twisting Icelandic words!  

19) Please identify the news media service below which is not Icelandic.

A. Morgunblaðið
B. Vísir
C. The Reykjavík Grapevine
D. Berlingske

D) Berlingske is a Danish news service.

20) The only part of Icelandic territory north of the Arctic Circle is:

A. Húsavík
B. Westman Islands
C. Grímsey Island
D. Akureyri

D) The latitudes of Húsavík and Akureyri are not north enough, although both towns are in Northern Iceland, while the Westman Islands are at the most southern tip of the country.