Reykjavík, Iceland

Which city is the northernmost capital in the world?

And the answer is: Reykjavík.

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

The world's northernmost capital city is Reykjavík, Iceland, which is located just a couple of degrees short of the Arctic Circle. Despite its location, the average temperature in winter doesn't reach too far below freezing.

Reykjavík's reputation precedes it as one of the cleanest, greenest and safest cities in the world. Founded in 874 AD, this capital city not only has a history of sustainable energy, but is also home to natural wonders, such as the world's only capital of puffin colonies. In fact, 60% of the entire world puffin population nests in Iceland!

Another cool fact? Geothermal heating supplies an astonishing 87% of the nation’s housing. The vast resources of hot springs are responsible for the name Reykjavík (meaning "smoky bay") and effectively makes Iceland one of the world leaders in renewable energy production, as well as one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world.

Reykjavík is the only Western European capital without a Starbucks or McDonald's – the last locations closed in 2009 due to local competition. Luckily (or perhaps not so luckily), Icelandic anthropologist Hjörtur Smárason purchased a burger and fries from McDonald's and kept them to rot, live on a webcam at the Bus Hotel in Reykjavík. Learn more about this decade-long experiment from the BBC.

More than 60% of the Icelandic population call Reykjavík home. Just 2 degrees south of the Arctic circle, Reykjavík natives brave intense, long-lived winters, with sometimes just as little as four hours of sunlight in December. Conversely, Icelandic summers are known for near 24-hours of light and temperate conditions (though, the highest temperatures barely exceed 60 degrees Fahrenheit).

To learn more about Iceland's capital city, check out the video below.


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