Welcome to the Most Literary and Soccer-Obsessed Country on Earth

The World
How It Works
Oct. 16 2013 12:39 PM

Iceland: Home of the World’s Craziest Population Statistics

111287773
Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Iceland, was named after subglacial lakes in a very volcanically active region in its center. It also happens to sit in a nation where one of every 10 people is an author.

Photo by Thorvaldur Orn Krismundsson/AFP/Getty Images

Is Iceland the most literary and sports-mad country on the planet?

Well, sort of. One important thing to realize about Iceland is that there aren’t very many people there: 300,000, two-thirds of whom live in the Reykjavik area. The population is slightly larger than that of Corpus Christi, Texas. So when a lot of Icelanders do anything, it can produce some mind-blowing statistics. When, for instance, 6,000 people come out to protest the government, that’s 2 percent of the population. Two of these impressive stats popped up in the media this week.

Advertisement

On Monday, the Independent reported on a Norway-Iceland World Cup qualifying match being held in Oslo, and pointed out that “There will be nearly 3,000 Iceland fans at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo—almost 1 per cent of the country’s population.”

Also this week, the BBC reports in a feature on Iceland’s literary culture that “one in ten people will publish a book” in the country.

The country’s statistics agency predicts that the population is expected to climb to between 430,000 and 490,000 by 2060, thanks largely to increased migration. That might be good for Iceland, but not so good for continuing to produce crazy population stats. 

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 4:33 PM Walmart Is Killing the Rest of Corporate America in Solar Power Adoption
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.