Let's talk about...water
Yes, water. Possibly the most interesting, and also boring, topic in the world. It's all over the place, it's clear, it doesn't have much taste and rain is made of it. On the other hand, it created our most impressive landscapes, it is the main ingredient of beer, and cruises would be rubbish without it.
You see, before WOW air invented the aeroplane there was no other way to and from Iceland than overwater. A few settlers turned up in about AD 874, and then more and more, and then they were pretty much forgotten about and left in isolation for a thousand years. That's why water is central to the survival of the old Icelandic language and for the nation's culture. Things only really started moving in 1914 when the government bought the nation its first ship to transport goods and passengers.
Water, hot and cold, is directly and indirectly responsible for nearly Iceland's entire economy. Sure it would be easier to fish for fish on dry land; but the fish would probably not survive long if the sea wasn't there – and fishing is really, really important to Iceland. We also use our natural hot water to heat greenhouses that grow our fruit and vegetables.
Water is essential to Iceland's sustainability simply because nearly all of the country's electricity is generated from geothermal and hydro power stations and hot water for bathing and heating is either warmed with this electricity or, far more often, pumped straight out of the ground hot into homes and businesses. There is no mains gas in Iceland and very few people choose to buy bottled gas for their kitchen stoves. It's electric all the way.
Without water, Iceland would look very different. Almost every interesting feature (aside from recent volcanic lava flows) in the landscape was created by rivers, floods or glaciers. And that's not to mention the lakes, rivers and waterfalls which are still going strong today and attracting awestruck tourists from all corners of the globe.
Heck, we even have frozen water in the name of the country and hidden in the names of thousands of places and towns: Reykjavík is named after geothermal steam and a bay; in fact anywhere ending in ‘vík' is named after a bay. Anywhere ending in ‘fjörður' is named after a fjord. ‘Foss' in the word Selfoss means waterfall. The ‘hver' in Hveragerði means hot spring. You get the picture.
So, we have proven how important water is to Iceland and we haven't even got to the fun stuff yet! The fun bits are that Icelandic tap water tastes amazing and bottled Icelandic water is the toast of the mineral water world (environmentally unsound as it is). People love to ski, sail and kayak (all of which need H2O) – and of course our geothermal swimming pools are an endless source of joy. That joy is only bettered, perhaps, by the joy of bathing in a natural hot pool somewhere out in nature. Iceland is one of the few places where people jump in the water to heat up, instead of to cool down.
So raise your glass and say ‘Cheers' to water.