Friday, January 29, 2010

iPhone and Iceland: New stuff I'm learning about travelling

Since I got my new and most favourite toy last year – the iPhone I’d coveted for a long, long time – I’ve been "in the know". They may not be on any top ten lists but two of my favourite iPhone apps are the OECD Fact Book with its summary of 2009 statistics, and one called World Countries which lists every nation with its flag, population and other vital statistics and a stack of geographical description. Call me a geek, but these are the apps I go to when I’m sitting somewhere with time to kill, as well as in the middle of class when my students need to know some statistical detail about the world. Recently I mentioned knowing about the population of your own country, and it was the iPhone that I went to when some of my class didn’t actually know their own nation’s vital facts.

During my travels through these cool (for me) apps, I’ve discovered all kinds of interesting things I didn’t know. For some reason, the one that sticks in my mind the most is the fact that the nation of Iceland had a population of just 316,252 in 2008, according to my iPhone. (Wikipedia says it's 319,756, but let's just agree it's under 320,000). (Oh, I also learnt that the highest point of Iceland is named Hvannadalshnjukur, just in case you ever need that for a very obscure quiz night.)

I’ve read and written quite a lot about Iceland over recent years, and despite them suffering especially badly from the economic crisis, the Icelanders have still been really gung-ho on doing interesting promotions to get tourists to visit Iceland. I’ve known a few people who’ve been there and for me it’s clearly a fascinating place to visit – especially for plenty of unique landscape, one of my favourite reasons to travel. Plus, it really seems to have a unique culture of its own. And for all those reasons, I am still surprised that the population is so small – not even a small city’s worth of people populate the whole of Iceland. But have no fear, I still want to go there. Now I'm going back to my iPhone.

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