The country's written and spoken language is Icelandic, a Nordic language very similar to that spoken by Iceland's first settlers. Icelandic language is one of the oldest living languages in Europe. English and Danish are mandatory subjects in school. The literacy rate, 99.9%, is the highest in the world.
The Icelandic language is believed to have changed very little from the original tongue spoken by the Norse settlers, but English and Danish are widely spoken. The Icelandic language has two letters of its own. Ů/■ and -/. Ů is pronounced as th in "thing" and - is pronounced as th in "them".
Very few Icelanders have original surnames, so it can often be difficult to decipher out the telephone directory, which lists people by their first names. This is why Icelanders call each other by their first names, not because they all know one another - though, nevertheless, this often seems to be the case! Most people have a patronymic rather than a family surname. For example, Hrˇarsson, means the son of Hrˇar, and Finnbogadˇttir means the daughter of Finnbogi.