In Iceland, the phonebook is sorted by first names because everyone's surname is basically their father's first name followed by -son or -dottir.
2. In Iceland, the belief in Elves is so pervasive that it can determine government action. From roads avoiding large rocks (where the Elves "live") to construction permits sometimes requiring the aide of a mystic who can ask the elves to move.
3. People who wanted to commit suicide in 18th-century Denmark were afraid to take their own lives because they believed it would send them to hell. Instead, they resorted to killing other people to receive the death penalty and repented before execution, believing that doing so would send them to heaven.
4. Homosexuality was still classified as an illness in Sweden in 1979. Swedes protested by calling in sick to work, claiming they "felt gay".
5. Iceland is the only country without mosquitoes.
Sweden has instituted a country-wide program where citizens can enroll to receive an SMS when there is a heart attack victim nearby, allowing them to reach them faster than an ambulance and provide CPR. In 40% of the cases, SMS lifesavers arrived before ambulances and started providing CPR.
7. In 2004, a tax auditor in Finland died at his desk, and despite there being 100 staff on the same floor in the same department, no-one realized he was dead for 2 days.
8. Norway has very strict rules on advertising cars as "green" saying, "cars can do nothing good for the environment except less damage than others".
9. Norway owns an uninhabited frozen island (Bouvet Island) located halfway between Africa and Antarctica.
10. In Iceland, criminals are put on a waiting list to serve their time in prison because there aren't enough available jail cells. Many people who are on this list pay fines or do community service as an alternative to prison.
If you publish a book in Norway, the government will buy 1000 copies (1,500 if it is a children's book) and distribute them to libraries throughout the country.
12. Linje Akvavit is a flavored liquor from Norway. It is shipped from Norway to Australia and back before being bottled. The sloshing and temperature change the liquor. Experiences on the ship impart certain flavors to the beverage. Akvavit is traditionally served as a holiday drink.
13. A man named Göran Kropp from Sweden rode his bicycle to Nepal, climbed Mount Everest alone without Sherpas or bottled oxygen, then cycled back to Sweden again.
14. On October 24, 1975, 90% of Iceland’s female population went on strike, demanding equal rights. They did not work, do housework, or look after their kids for an entire day. In 1980, Iceland elected its first female president (Vigdis Finnbogadottir), who credits her win to this specific day.
15. In 2008, Doritos beamed a 30-second advertisement into a planetary system 42 light years away, in collaboration with EISCAT Space Center in Norway.
16National Sleepy Head day
In Finland, they have 'National Sleepy Head day', where the last person in a family to wake up is thrown into a lake or the sea by the rest of the family.
17. In a remote valley in Sweden, people still speak an ancient dialect of Old Norse, the language of the Vikings. It's called Elfdalian and they still used runes (ancient writing system) up until the 1900s.
18. In 2017, Norway became the first country in the world to shut down FM radio and go digital instead. Norway switched to DAB (which stands for ‘Digital Audio Broadcasting’) since FM is eight times more expensive.
19. There are more bicycles in Copenhagen, Denmark, than people, 5 times as many bicycles as cars, and 400km of cycle lanes not shared with cars or pedestrians for a city of about 600,000 people.
20. In Finland, speeding tickets are calculated on a percentage of a person's income. This causes some Finnish millionaires to face fines of over $100,000.
There are about two million saunas in Finland, enough for the entire Finnish population to take a sauna at the same time.
22. Helsinki cunningly survived World War 2. In 1944, USSR began a massive air attack on the city to force Finland to leave the war. Finns used fires and searchlights to trick Soviet bombers into dropping bombs outside the city. Russian diplomats were surprised to find an intact Helsinki after the war.
23. It takes 3 years of higher education to become a police officer in Norway. The training takes place at a university college and each graduate gets a bachelor's degree in "Police Studies".
24. Sweden is so good at recycling that it does not have enough rubbish to recycle and therefore imports 80,000 tons of trash a year from Norway.
25. Stockholm, Sweden tested a "Speed Camera Lottery" where speed limit-abiding drivers were automatically entered into a drawing to win a prize pool funded out of fines paid by speeders.