Iceland has a population of 325,671 making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. It is a Nordic country situated between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, hence the cold climate! Iceland is a rather dramatic place to live due to it being a volcanically and geologically active island. You may remember flights from UK airports being grounded due to major volcanic eruptions in Iceland. The first person to settle on the island was the Norwegian chieftain Ingolfr Arnarson in AD 874, who must have been a big man physically or carried some pretty good genetics, because the line of people that followed him were (generally) big and strong!
Are Icelanders the strongest out there!?
Of course more people came and settled in this new and interesting, albeit somewhat unhospitable island, and it is assumed that they had strong genetics too because as a nation, Iceland is affectionately known as ‘the nest of giants’. As a nation with such a small population, in relative terms Iceland produce some pretty impressive stats at the World’s Strongest Man competitions. Of course I’m not saying that Iceland is the strongest nation on earth, I have no hard evidence to support that, and as much as Iceland have had men crowned as the strongest on earth, so too have America and the UK (to name a few examples). It is in relative terms that Iceland strongmen are so so impressive, with such a modest population and only 4 months’ worth of light a year, Iceland is a remarkable nation when it comes to producing strongmen.
No other country has produced as many total world strongest man titles as Iceland with the current scores standing at 8 titles divided between the legendary Jón Páll Sigmarsson (4 titles) and Magnús Ver Magnússon (4 titles). Was it not for the freak of all strongmen Mariusz Pudzianowski who hails from Poland and has won World’s Strongest Man an incredible 5 times in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008. Iceland haven’t won it since 1996, since which the title has been won by multiple Scandinavian nations in the form of Findland, Sweden and Norway, and more recently Lithuania and the US in the shape of Žydrūnas Savickas and Brian Shaw respectively. HOWEVER, this is looking set to change in the not too distant future as Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, better known as Thor Björnsson, and better known further still as ‘The Mountain’ from the TV hit series Game of Thrones, looks good to become champion…and he’s only 26 years old!
The Mountain from ‘Game of Thrones’ series
I think it’s fair to say that ‘The nest of giants’ was well fed during the time that Thor Björnsson was born, the guy is a giant both physically and metaphorically standing at 6’9’’ and weighing a massive 175kg! He came in as a hugely impressive runner up in the 2014 World’s Strongest man competition, and at just 26 years of age (a relative baby in this sport) is hot favourite to knock the big Lithuanian, Žydrūnas Savickas off of his thrown in 2015! Due to his formidable size and strength, Björnsson has also featured in the biggest series of all time ‘Game of Thrones’ in which he plays a character almost as dominating as himself!
That classic saying ‘there will always be someone bigger and stronger than yourself’ springs to mind when trying to assert that one nation produces the strongest on earth. However when it comes to dominance in a competition that is all about strength, the Icelanders, on what is considered the ‘World’s Best Diet’ seem to be doing something right!
BBC News Europe, (2014). Iceland Profile. Retrieved 15th December, 2014, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17383525
Population by country of citizenship, sex and age, (2014). 1 January 1998–2013. Reykjavík, Iceland: Statistics Iceland.
The Worlds Strongest Man Official Website, (2014). Theworldsstrongestman.com. 2012-04-25.