ArticleThe World's Only...
Essentially, the title of this entry is just another way of saying “absolutely unique” - and that's why it comes as a certain surprise to find out that there are, in fact, quite a few of “the world's only”s, including a 7-star hotel, a floating national park, a walkable rollercoaster, a corn palace, a completely wingless bird, and even a university for the deaf. That said, all those wonders are scattered all over the world, and there is only a very small percentage of countries that are able to claim such a phenomenon as their very own. Being a member of that exclusive club is a matter of national prestige, and an achievement every country would likely be extremely proud of. Many countries come close - by sharing some object or tradition with just a handful of others - but coming close doesn't really count. That's why Iceland needed something more than, for example, long houses or even longer settlement walls
Both are historic artefacts of great interest but both are shared with other Nordic countries - as is the tradition of whale-watching
To obtain the coveted membership, Iceland had to dig deep and think out of the box - which, in this case, happened to be exactly inside one box or another! The box of the human body inspired Icelanders to explore phallology, and eventually they did come up with something that had never been done before - nor has it been copied by anybody so far, if Google is anything to go by
The other box (in the cover picture) is completely literal - a game box. To be completely honest, the game called “Hnetatafl”/Fist table is a part of a much larger family of Scandinavian “table games” - yet, Iceland claims that particular variation of the game as its own invention.
Both Icelandic breakthroughs might serve as a proof that uniqueness is achieved when people are able to see familiar concepts in an unfamiliar way - and that might be a real reason why “world only”s are worn by their owners as a badge of honour.