Language: Icelandic; English widely understood

Climate: Contrary to what its chilly name might suggest, Iceland's climate is actually somewhat mild thanks to a branch of the Gulf Stream, which flows along the southern and western coasts, moderating their climate. (And bringing more rain to those regions.) The summer tourist season is from late May to early September. Expect the sun to stay above the horizon for the first half of summer, but don’t expect it to warm you up. It may not be freezing in the summer but it's still cool, so you'll need a thick sweater and raingear. The winter season sees long nights and severe storms.

Time Zone: GMT Greenwich Mean Time

International phone code: 354

Currency: Icelandic króna (ISK)

Capital: Reykjavik, the northernmost capital in the world.

Transportation: Iceland is easily reached via air and the main international airport is Keflavík. Aircraft in Iceland are like buses or trains elsewhere; they're the main form of internal travel other than the roads. But be warned: the ride can be a bit bumpy if you're entering one of the fjords like Akureyri. Scheduled service to nearby destinations, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands, is provided by Air Iceland and Atlantic Airways. A car offers the most flexibility for travel around Iceland. Numerous agencies rent vehicles but you will find prices are high.

Gay Iceland:

The combination of a Scandinavian egalitarian heritage of Viking durability and modern Nordic progressive-mindedness has made Iceland one of the most liberal countries in Europe with regards to LGBT equality.

In February 2009 a minority government took office, headed by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the world's first openly gay head of government in modern times. The parliament amended the marriage law on June 11, 2010 to define marriage as between two individuals, thereby making same-sex marriage legal.

Despite its small population (Iceland has 280,000 people and 170,000 live in the capital city) Reykjavík has a visible gay scene, with a couple of bars and cafés, as well as establishments that cater to a mixed gay and straight crowd. The sparse population in the rest of the country means searching out a gay scene beyond Reykjavik is fruitless.