Iceland is a peculiar—but magical—place.
In a country where many citizens believe in elves, you don’t need certain things. Like street addresses, apparently.
To get a postcard delivered to a remote farm in western Iceland, three foreign tourists drew a map on the envelope. The map lacked both name and address, describing only the family who lived there and a vague description of the farm’s location.
Much to the recipient’s surprise, the postcard was delivered.
The postcard was sent from Reykjavik to the farm in Iceland’s Dalabyggð region. The tourists who sent it had previously visited Holar farm, but forgot its address. So, they fashioned a map instead of a name or address.
Rebecca Cathrine Kaadu Ostenfeld, who owns the farm, posted a photo of the postcard on Facebook, which quickly went viral. Holar farm, as the senders of the postcard described, is a “horse farm with an Icelandic/Danish couple and 3 kids and a lot of sheep!”
Last month, after seeing the story online, someone in Russia decided to replicate the map and send their own fan mail to the farm. The map address worked internationally, too.
It’s not completely inconceivable that a country with only 320,000 citizens on roughly 40,000 square miles of land doesn’t need street addresses.
One British start-up is trying to completely eliminate street addresses around the world in favor of three-word phrases, according to Quartz. These phrases break down every corner of the globe into nine-square-meter blocks and the system seems to be catching on. Mongolia adopted the system back in June and this year, Rio used the system to help visitors get around the city during the Olympics.
Between the maps and the phrases, hard-to-remember street addresses could become passé in lesser-populated areas. Or we could just hire elves to work at post offices around the world.