Meet Jon Gnarr, By Far the Coolest Mayor in the World

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The coolest mayor in the world never went to university, is an ex-taxi driver and used to be in a local punk rock band called ‘Runny Nose’ before he became a comedian and actor. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as Jon Gnarr is concerned, a man whose achievements in life are so bizarre that it is truly a wonder how he became the mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city and home to over half of the nation’s population.

You’d think that a goofy guy has the chance to be President for the day only in the movies, but it seems in Reykjavik anything’s possible. Jon Gnarr, who was diagnosed with severe mental retardation and ADHD as a child, started his own political party in 2010 after refusing to join up with any of the existing parties. Funny enough, he named his party ‘The Best Party’. Simple, yet brilliant, isn’t it? It had to be, because he won his very first election to the office of mayor with 34.7% of the popular vote. According to what Gnarr told the media, his first real challenge as a politician was deciding between the names ‘The Best Party’ and ‘The Cool Party’. He ultimately settled for the first because it sounds dorkier, which was the vibe he was looking for. Called ‘Besti Flokkurin’ in the local language, the party is a motley group of artists, comedians and punk rockers, none of whom have had any prior experience in city-planning or politics. The only thing they did do well before the elections was record an Icelandic take on the Tina Turner song ‘Simply the Best’ and use it as their official campaign song. With lines like “We want a city that’s cuddly and clean and cool,” and “Tell the squatters in-charge that it’s time to leave,” the song was both silly and attention-grabbing at the same time. If the goofy mayor is to be believed, the city was being run by ‘blathering loons’ and it’s no surprise at all that the Best Party won.

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Elves, Trolls and Hidden Beings – Iceland’s Love of the Supernatural

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You probably think anyone who takes elves and other fantasy beings seriously is either childish or just plain mad. According to polls, most Icelanders believe in, or at least refuse to deny the existence of elves, and most of them seem pretty sane to me.  Welcome to Iceland, the small island country where technological advancement goes hand in hand with a belief in the supernatural.

Located just below the Arctic Circle, Europe’s most remote nation is also probably one of the world’s most bizarre. Civilized, and certainly no strangers to technology, the majority of 320,000 Icelanders also firmly believe in the existence of spirit beings like elves, gnomes or fairies. Of course, there are fantasy-enthusiasts who believe in these creatures all over the world, only in Iceland this matter really is taken very seriously. Annoying the mystical creatures living all over the island is thought to carry a heavy price, so human inhabitants will do almost anything to avoid getting on their bad side.

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Website Helps Icelandic Couples Avoid Incest

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In a country with only 300,000 people, the risk of two people who like each other being related is quite high. Throw in the absence of last names, and the confusion only increases. This is precisely the case in Iceland today. Luckily, they have a website that keeps them from committing incest.

So when a man and a woman begin dating in Iceland, the first thing they ask each other is, “Hverra manna ert þú?” which means, “Who are your people?” Obviously, none of them want to end up marrying their cousin. Even so, widespread rumors do the rounds about someone who knows someone who found out too late that the object of their interest was in fact, a long-lost cousin. Fortunately,  a website called  Íslendingabók exists to help Icelanders with the situation that almost seems unique to the isolated country.  Íslendingabók, which means the Book of Icelanders, is a genealogical website that carries a huge database of the people of Iceland and has been around for almost over a decade. When it was first launched, it turned out to be an instant hit.

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