Things are looking up for Iceland this season. With the latest UN Index on Human Development report out, Iceland has finally overtaken Norway for the top position. The UN index is a statistical measurement of life expectancy, literacy education and standard of living for countries worldwide.
For the last six years Norway has been in the top position, but this year Iceland has taken over, dropping Norway to second place by a mere fraction. According to the report, free market countries dominate the top positions. Currently the rankings are as follows: Iceland, Norway, Australia, Canada and Ireland. The United States dropped from 8th place to 12th. The UK is down to16th, behind Austria.
Iceland has a small population of only 300,000, which might have contributed to its high rank on the index. Iceland has also made technological advances over the last couple of years. With the increased promotion of the country, it has become one of the most popular places for vacations.
With almost all-around-the-clock daylight in summer, the weather is perfect for a holiday. There are day-tours around the country, which visitors can find at tour operators in the capital, Reykjavik. The tour operators also take visitors out to the country’s spectacular waterfall, the Gullfoss.
The Gullfoss is an exquisite waterfall that drops in a staircase fashion from the highlands. About a kilometre above the large fall, the water makes a sharp turn to the left and drops into a three-step “staircase”. The water then plunges down twice, first 11m and then 21m, into a crevice. The crevice itself is 105ft (32m) deep, 60ft (20m) wide and 2.5km in length. The average amount of water that plummets down the fall in the summer is 140m3 per second. In winter it’s 80m3 per second. The largest flood to hit the river was 2000 m3/s.
Other features that add to the standard of living are the natural hot springs and the famous Blue Lagoon. The Lagoon was named after the pure milky blue waters that are filled with natural minerals. Visitors come from miles around to experience the blue water’s healing and tranquil properties. They enjoy lying in the water while staring out at the lava fields that surround them.
The landscape is filled with natural spas and springs, encouraging a healthy and relaxing lifestyle. However, with long black sandy beaches to walk on and the Landmannalaugar Hills to explore, exercise is also actively encouraged. The hills are in the central highland, with hikes and 4X4 drives available.
It is not surprising then, that with all these natural resources and comforts from nature, the life expectancy and standard of living in this beautiful country has increased. Although the latest reports show only a fraction between Iceland and second place Norway, with all the promises of pleasure, it seems that Iceland will extend that gap in no time.