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A tiny Icelandic island with a population of 6 people — and zero cars — has just been named the world's best. These photos show what it's like to visit.

Samantha Grindell , Business Insider US
 Oct 13, 2019, 12:12 PM
Only six people live on the island full time.
Wei Hao Ho/Getty Images
  • Big 7 Travel, a website that provides city guides, has released its list of the top 50 islands in the world for 2019.
  • Iceland's Flatey Island, located off the western coast of the country, came in first.
  • The island is just 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometres) long and has only six year-round residents, according to Guide to Iceland, though it tends to attract more visitors who have houses there in the summer.
  • Flatey is best known for being home to Iceland's oldest library and a large population of puffin birds.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Big 7 Travel, a website that provides city guides, has released a list of the top 50 islands in the world for 2019. It compiled the rankings by polling readers, looking at previous media coverage, and pulling from its own staff's travel experiences.

Flatey Island, a small land mass in the Breiðafjörður bay off the west coast of Iceland, took the top spot. Flatey was once a popular stop on trade routes, but now is more popular with visitors in the summer and only has a handful of residents who live there year-round, according to Guide to Iceland.

Take a look at the picturesque island below.


Big 7 Travel awarded Flatey, an island in the Breiðafjörður bay off the west coast of Iceland, the top spot in its 50 best islands list for 2019.

Big 7 Travel determined the ranking by surveying readers, studying other media coverage of the world's islands, and using its staff's recommendations based on their personal travel experiences. The list includes better-known places like Barbados, and Bali, Indonesia, but the lesser-known island of Flatey, Iceland, took first place.

Flatey is the only inhabited island of the 3,000 in Breiðafjörður bay, according to Iceland Travel.


A cluster of smaller islands surround Flatey, but it's the only one with people on it in the entire bay.

danielpeturs_/Getty Images

It's small in size, at 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometres) long and one mile (1.6 kilometres) wide, according to Guide to Iceland.


The name "Flatey" translates to "flat," as the island doesn't have any hills.

Wei Hao Ho/Getty Images

Despite its small size, Flatey was once densely populated by fishermen, as well as people involved in trading throughout the region, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).


The island also the site of Iceland's first library and a historic church, called Flatey Church.

Michele D'Amico supersky77/Getty Images

The interior of Flatey Church was painted by the famous artist Baltasar Samper, according to its website.


Today, only a handful of people live on Flatey.

Vadim_Nefedov/Getty Images

During the winter, six people at most live on Flatey, according to Visit Westfjords, a travel guide for the fjords in the west of Iceland.

The population increases in the warm months, however, as people who have summer homes there come to visit. Tourists flock to Flatey at the same time, with the Icelandic tourist board estimating that the island recieved close to 9,000 visitors in 2017.


One reason the island becomes more populated in the summer is because of puffin birds' migration patterns.

Sigfus Sigmundsson/Getty Images

The island is home to over 50 breeding species of birds, according to Iceland Travel, including the puffin, making it a popular bird-watching destination.

Puffin birds migrate to Flatey in April annually and leave again in September, according to Extreme Iceland, a tour company that offers bird-watching trips in Iceland.


The island is also home to other animals, like sheep.

Photography by Pavel Dobrovský/Getty Images

Flatey may be small in size, but rich in biodiversity. The island also has over 230 species of leafy plants, as reported by UNESCO.


The island is only accessible by ferry.

Wei Hao Ho/Getty Images

To get to Flatey, visitors must take a ferry from Stykkishólmur or Brjánslæku, Iceland, on the west coast of the country, according to Guide to Iceland. Cars are not permitted on the island, so tourists and residents should expect to walk once they arrive.

There is a small hotel for visitors to stay in called Hotel Flatey, which features a breakfast buffet for guests and views of the surrounding ocean, according to its listing on Booking.com.


Despite it being a lesser-known island, Flatey has been featured in films.

Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo/Getty Images

"Many movies are set on the island, most notably 'The Honour of the House' based on a short story by Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness," Big 7 wrote.


But all in all, it remains a quiet, mostly uninhabited place that gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like in the past.

Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo/Getty Images

The remote nature of Flatey and its lack of modern innovations, like cars, is said to make visitors feel as though they have gone back in time.

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