Iceland has a population of 320,000 people which is roughly the same number as Wigan or Coventry, except they’re spread over 40,000 square miles. Iceland was a barren rock until a group of hardy Norse settlers arrived there in A.D. 874 and since then there hasn’t been a huge amount of population shift to or from the massive island.
Because of this there’s a fair quantity of inter-relatedness going on over there. Apparently it is an embarrassingly common occurrence to go to a family do, meet some distant relatives and see someone that you got a bit jiggy with in the recent past. It’s a tale that’s told around the whole country. An Icelandic genealogy expert says “on average if you pick two people on the street at random you will find they are related 6 or 7 generations back.”
But thankfully for them some University genealogy Lords have invented the Islendiga-App – “App of Icelanders“. It’s an app that allows you to “bump phones” with a potential mate before doing the deed, just to double check you aren’t cousins. It features an “anti incest alarm” that beeps if you are too closely related. The feature is called “Sifjaspellsspillir” which directly translates to “Incest Destroyer,” though the team prefers the phrase “Incest Spoiler.”
In 1997, a company called deCODE, an Icelandic Biotech company, created something called the “Book of Icelanders“. This book holds the genealogy of 95% of Icelanders from the last 300 years and was built using census data, church records, family archives and a host of other information sources. It’s now an online database of residents and their family trees stretching back 1,200 years.
Iceland is probably the only country in the world where this would be possible because the first travelers to the volcanic rock found it empty so they started the tree from scratch, they also have genealogy written in Icelandic sagas dating back 1000 years and they boast the oldest parliament in the world. So they’ve been keeping pretty good records for a long, long time. Also not too many people go over there to live compared to other countries, probably because it’s massively cold and there’s not much to do. It’s beautiful from what I’ve seen in pictures, but I don’t think I’d want to live there.
The University of Iceland held a competition sponsored by deCODE to find the most interesting new use for this online Islendingabok, or Book of Icelanders, and so the app was born. Their slogan says “bump the app before you bump in bed”. It’s already had 4000 plus downloads since it’s launch a few weeks ago, which doesn’t sound too huge a number until you realise that’s actually more than 1% of the entire population. Download it today.