Planning a vacation can be very stressful given all the work that it takes. From the unlimited beautiful options that you have to choose from to packing just the right kind and amount of clothing and other essentials, vacation comes with their own set of problems and many difficult decisions that are required to be made. Apart from choosing the perfect location that is exactly what you are craving for, you want to travel to a place that can take your worries away so that you get to relax as much as you like. But that can be a hard thing given the fact that a strange and different country that you are traveling to may have some lurking dangers. This is why people look for safe places to travel and this is why Iceland fits perfectly into every vacation plan that people have.
It is the 12th year in a row that Iceland has topped the list of the safest countries in the world. Being on top of the list of the safest countries in the world along with being one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, Iceland also evidently tops the list of the best countries to spend your vacation at. Since the things that showcase the beauty of the land of ice and fire are well-known by the masses, lets up explore what makes Iceland the safest country in the world.
The Factors – What Makes Iceland Safe
Being the safest country in the world sure takes more than just a few basic building factors. From factors like lower crime rate to the natural ones like the inherent nature of the locals, there are a few things that can make or break your experience in a new, unknown country. Let’s discuss some of the main reasons and things that make Iceland the safest country in the world.
1. The Lowest of Low Crime Rate
The average crime rate in Iceland is stated to be 22.26% – a ‘very low’ score on the board. The average crime rate is determined by several other rates combined for the report like the rate of thieving, drug dealing, corruption, murder, and bribery, etc. Violent crimes like murder are almost negligible in Iceland at a rate of 1.5 murders per year. Other crimes like vandalism, theft, and mugging, all stay under 15% which translates as “very low”. Armed robbery and assault have a rate of 19.65% as recorded by a numbeo.com in a recent survey. It is rated “safe” to travel in the country by 88.31% survey participants.
2. Happiness Index
Iceland ranks 4th on the list of happiest countries in the world. This rank is a combination of low crime rate, high standard of living, and a high level of satisfaction among the citizens. The happier someone is, the more polite they are in general which explains the polite locals you will encounter at almost every step in the country.
3. High Satisfaction and Standard of Living
If one seriously ponders over it, most of the crimes take place due to a lower level of satisfaction. The more you are happy with your life, the lesser you would feel inclined towards committing an unlawful act. Crimes like robbery and thievery have a low rate in Iceland because the standard of living is high in the country and there is enough for everyone to enjoy. The low population means that non-renewable resources do not have to be divided into major chunks leaving everyone with smaller portions. Iceland has the highest standard of living in Europe. The average high standard of living in Europe is 25% while Iceland has it at 29%.
Iceland has the second highest quality of life in the whole world with Norway ahead of it in the first position. The general index of life satisfaction across the world has a rating of 6.5 out of 10 in a survey conducted by OECD while the same survey in Iceland received a rating of 7.5. The maths is simple here – the more you are satisfied with your life, the lesser you would want to commit any crime.
4. Education and Jobs
Iceland gives education the level of importance that it deserves. A college degree in Iceland will cost you less than one month’s rent and that is one extraordinary step taken by the government. Education plays a very important role in According to OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) Better Life Index, 77% of adult men between the age of 25-64 years have a complete high school education while 78% of women in the same age group have received high school education. 86% of adults in Iceland have paid jobs which means that the employment rate in Iceland is even higher than the average employment rate of 68% as metered by OECD. Better education shapes the mindset of people making them understand the importance of peace and love for the existence of a society filled with harmony.
5. Equality is Exclusive
The term equality is not just a superficial concept in Iceland. It is a law in Iceland for female workers to not get paid lower than their male counterparts. The male population in the country stands at 50.4% while the female population is at 49.6%. From the freedom of same-sex marriage to the freedom of practicing any religion of choice, Iceland has raised the standards of equality and secularism for every country across the world. Along with same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption has also been made legal in the country. The country backs up the transgender community with their full support and has taken actions to prove their support for freedom of religion by recently allocating plots for the construction of mosques and Pagan worship centers in the capital city. Discrimination based on gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, age, or creed. Although all of these things are a part of common sense and something that everyone is taught from a very age, illegalizing the act of discrimination gives a lot more backing to “Equality” in Iceland.
6. Everyone Speaks English
While Icelandic is the national language of the country, English is made a part of the daily life of every citizen from a very young age. Schools include English as a compulsory second language so that children can develop the skills from a very young age. The main part that results in the fluency of the English language comes from the fact that most of the digital media in Iceland is in English. From video games to platforms like YouTube, everything is available in English primarily. Since Iceland gets almost 1.7 million tourists every year, it is considered smart to keep all the information tourists may need in English along with Icelandic such as route information, signs, and boards, websites about climate and other information, etc. This is why Iceland is seen as one of the top locations to go solo touring.
7. A Walk Under the Stars Is Always Safe
Safety when going out at night can be determined by a few points such as what are the chances of being robbed or what are the chances of being assaulted. The crime index of armed robbery, assault, and being attacked is classified as “very low” in Iceland with robbery and assault at 11.32% and being attacked at 13.81% according to the most recent survey by numbeo.com. last updated in May. Another survey by the same organization showed that 73.76% of people in the capital city consider it to be safe to go out in the night. This is one of the top reasons that nightlife in the capital is one of the liveliest events in the country.
8. Child Safety with Infants Taking Naps Outside
If you are traveling to Iceland with children and are concerned about their safety then you can relax. Iceland is extremely safe for adults and children alike. The environment is so friendly that you will often see little ones taking naps outside restaurants in open while their guardians grab a bit inside. Almost all tourist activities have strict guidelines that are established for child safety. The parents certainly take necessary measures to make sure that the babies are comfortable outside. They wear proper warm layers and are tucked inside their sleeping bags before getting into the strollers. The strollers have a baby monitor inside to keep tabs on the baby. But the main thing here is that parents are not worried about someone just stealing and running away with their babies. As absurd as it sounds, this is a very common incident in many countries but not Iceland.
9. Wild Animals – Only the Friendly Ones
Iceland has very rich wildlife but you will hardly find any dangerous animals in this country. While the majority of Iceland is covered with the Icelandic horses, one can also find the Arctic fox, mink, rats, reindeer, mice, and rabbits as the wildlife of the country. Polar bears are generally not a part of Iceland’s wildlife but they sometimes come from Greenland riding the floating icebergs from Greenland but that is a very rare occurrence. This makes camping in forests or traveling at night is incredibly safe and it is highly unlikely that you will encounter any rouge bear when on the roads or in the woods.
10. Breathe in the Exquisite Air Quality
One of the reasons Icelanders choose to let their babies nap out in the open is because the air quality is simply exquisite. The air pollution index of Iceland stands at 12.71 which makes it rank third on the list of the least polluted countries in the world. The exemplary air quality makes Iceland perfect to give your lunges a break and breathe in luxury-level air – a vacation for you and your body.
11. Who Has Bodyguards? No One!
This may sound unreal but another proof of Iceland being the safest country in the whole world is the fact that no one has bodyguards in the country – not even personalities like the president and celebrities. People are extremely polite and there are almost no violent crimes or hate crimes reported in the country. The president was offered to make his vehicle bulletproof but he refused the offer as there is no need for that kind of protection in Iceland.
12. A Never-Protested Pride Parade
While pride parades are a very important event around the world, there are a few protestors in almost every area who protest against the pride parade. Avoiding this certain pit, Iceland is the only country in the world where Reykjavik Pride, formerly known as Gay Pride, has never been protested. This fact may have to do with the fact that Iceland has a very close-knit community or with the high education rate of the country. Either way, people are more understanding and accepting in the country and hence make it safe and pleasant for everyone.
13. Very Strict Road Rules
Not only Iceland has strict road rules, but these rules are also followed religiously by everyone. Road safety is a very serious topic in Iceland as it should be everywhere. There are certain vehicles assigned to travel on different kinds of roads, for example, only 4×4 vehicles can be used to travel the Adventure F-roads. The maximum speed limit for driving in Iceland is 90 km per hour.
Special measures are taken to ensure the road safety of travelers. There is always a search and rescue team ready to take action on a call. Call 112 in case of a road emergency or install the exclusive 112 Iceland App on your phone. It is a great variant for travel safety launched by the Iceland government to help tourists and travelers.
14. Police Force Do Not Need to Carry Guns
Police force not needing to carry guns is a whole new high, even for the safest country in the world. The police force is very polite, helpful and approachable as well making them less of a threat and more of the helpful hand that it is intended to be. To make things even easier, the police department has an Instagram account that has adorable pictures of officers at work socializing with folks and taking cute snaps with children. Iceland does have a SWAT force that can administer firearms and can be called in case of need.
15. And the Last but Not the Least - No National Army
Sounds impossible but it is true. Iceland does not go to war. The one cold war Iceland was at was with the UK when it tried to fish in Icelandic national waters. Icelanders swam underwater and cut-off their nets with underwater scissors as a response and won the battle. Sneaky move but better than picking up guns, right?
What About the Natural Calamities?
While all the factors that can be manually controlled to make a place safer are covered and checked as “just right” for all tourists to enjoy themselves to the fullest, there are still a few things that cannot be controlled completely by mankind. These factors include the challenging natural landscape of Iceland. Several volcanoes are quite active in Iceland and predicted to erupts “at any time”. But maximum safety is made sure for the tourists by the tour agencies. The experts and guides are always sent up ahead to these landscapes in advance to make sure that all the landscapes and tourist sites are safe to be traveled every season. Your safety when traveling completely depends on how attentive you are on the road when or during the tours and activities which require safety measures to be followed like hiking, surfing, diving, visiting ice caves, and snowmobiling. To summarize, Iceland is safe to travel to in every possible way, as long as you are aware of your emergency helplines, and some locals to guide you through unknown paths.
While we have covered the technical factors that make Iceland the safest country in the world, the essence of safety lies in the inherent goodness of the people and their values. People of Iceland follow a very friendly culture that respects and welcomes guests into their homes with open arms. This explains why you would find many homes transferred into guesthouses offering accommodation to travelers. The goodness inside the hearts of the people of Iceland makes it as beautiful as it is.