Demographics of Iceland

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Iceland, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

93% of the residents of Iceland are Icelandic citizens, with one tenth of the population being foreign-born.[1] Most Icelanders are descendants of Norwegian settlers and Gaels from Ireland and Scotland who were brought over as thralls or slaves during the age of settlement. Recent DNA analysis suggests that around 66 percent of the male settler-era population was of Norse ancestry, where as the female population was 60 percent Celtic.[2][3] Iceland remained extremely homogenous from Settlement until the 20th century. Around 1% of the population of Iceland in 1900 was of Danish heritage (either born in Denmark or to Danish parents).[4] Due to a shortage of labor,[5] immigration to Iceland will most likely increase in the future.[6] Estimates show that the number of immigrants could be as high as 15% of the total population by 2030.[6]

According to Icelandic government statistics, 99% of the nation's inhabitants live in urban areas (localities with populations greater than 200) and 60% live in the Capital Region.

In 2016, 71,6% of the population belonged to the state church (the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland), approximately 5% in free churches, 3.7% to the Roman Catholic Church, approximately 1% to the Ásatrúarfélagið (a legally recognized revival of the pre-Christian religion of Iceland), approximately 1% to Zuism, 8% in unrecognized or unspecified religious groups, and 19% do not belong to any religious group.[7]

History[edit]

A graph showing the population of Iceland from 1703-2017, using official data from Statistics Iceland.

The population of Iceland since settlement times has probably wavered between about 30,000 and 80,000. Official statistics begin in 1703, since when the population of Iceland has grown from 50,358 to 338,349 at the beginning of 2017.[8]

Patronymy[edit]

Most Icelandic surnames are based on patronymy, or the adoption of the father's first given name, followed by "son" or "daughter". For example, Magnús and Anna, children of a man named Pétur Jónsson, would have the full name Magnús Pétursson and Anna Pétursdóttir, respectively. Magnús's daughter Sigríður Ásta would be Sigríður Ásta Magnúsdóttir, and would remain so for the rest of her life regardless of marriage. An Icelandic patronymic is essentially only a designation of fatherhood, and is therefore redundant in Icelandic social life except to differentiate people of the same first name – the phone directory, for example, lists people by their given name first, patronymic second. Thus it has little in common with traditional surnames except for its position after the given name. It is legally possible in Iceland to rework the patronymic into a matronymic, replacing the father's name with the mother's. Use of the patronymic system is required by law, except for the descendants of those who had acquired family names before 1913 (about 10% of the population). One notable Icelander who has an inherited family name is football star Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen.

Emigration[edit]

Large numbers of Icelanders began to emigrate from Iceland in the 1850s. It has been estimated that around 17,000 Icelanders emigrated to North America in the period 1870-1914, with some 2,000 people returning to Iceland. A total of around 15,000 individuals amount to roughly 20% of the Icelandic population in 1887.[9] According to historian Gunnar Karlsson, "migration from Iceland is unique in that most went to Canada, whereas from most or all other European countries the majority went to the United States. This was partly due to the late beginning of emigration from Iceland after the Canadian authorities had begun to promote emigration in cooperation with the Allan Line, which already had an agent in Iceland in 1873. Contrary to most European countries, this promotion campaign was successful in Iceland, because emigration was only just about to start from there and Icelandic emigrants had no relatives in the United States to help them take the first steps".[9]

Urbanization[edit]

According to University of Iceland economists Davíd F. Björnsson and Gylfi Zoega, "The policies of the colonial masters in Copenhagen delayed urbanisation. The Danish king maintained a monopoly in trade with Iceland from 1602 until 1855, which made the price of fish artificially low – the price of fish was higher in Britain – and artificially raised the price of agricultural products. Instead, Denmark bought the fish caught from Iceland at below world market prices. Although the trade monopoly ended in 1787, Icelanders could not trade freely with other countries until 1855. Following trade liberalisation, there was a substantial increase in fish exports to Britain, which led to an increase in the number of sailing ships, introduced for the first time in 1780. The growth of the fishing industry then created demand for capital, and in 1885 Parliament created the first state bank (Landsbanki). In 1905 came the first motorised fishing vessel, which marked an important step in the development of a specialised fishing industry in Iceland. Iceland exported fresh fish to Britain and salted cod to southern Europe, with Portugal an important export market. Fishing replaced agriculture as the country’s main industry. These developments set the stage for the urbanisation that was to follow in the twentieth century."[10]

A 2017 study looking at individuals going to the capital area for higher education found that "Only about one in three [University of Iceland] students from regions beyond commuting distance return after graduation, while about half remain in the capital area and others mostly emigrate."[11]

Icelandic National Registry[edit]

All living Icelanders, as well as all foreign citizens with permanent residence in Iceland, have a personal identification number (kennitala) identifying them in the National Registry. This number is composed of 10 digits, whereof the first six are made up of the individual's birth date in the format DDMMYY. The next two digits are chosen at random when the kennitala is allocated, the 9th digit is a check digit, and the last digit indicates the period of one hundred years in which the individual was born (for instance, '9' for the period 1900–1999). An example would be 120192-3389. While similar, all-inclusive personal registries exist in other countries, the use of the national registry is unusually extensive in Iceland. It is worth noting that the completeness of the National Registry eliminates any need for census to be performed.

Summary of vital statistics since 1900[edit]

Data according to Statistics Iceland, which collects the official statistics for Iceland.[12]

Year Average
population
(x 1000)
Live
births
Deaths Natural
change
Crude
birth rate
(per 1000)
Crude
death rate
(per 1000)
Natural
change
(per 1000)
Total
fertility
rate
1900 78 2,237 1,545 692 28.6 19.8 8.9 3.93
1901 78 2,179 1,155 1,024 27.8 14.7 13.1 3.86
1902 79 2,220 1,262 958 28.1 16.0 12.1 3.95
1903 79 2,244 1,324 920 28.3 16.7 11.6 4.00
1904 80 2,293 1,242 1,051 28.7 15.5 13.1 4.09
1905 81 2,271 1,435 836 28.1 17.8 10.4 4.02
1906 82 2,346 1,193 1,153 28.8 14.6 14.1 4.14
1907 83 2,304 1,396 908 27.9 16.9 11.0 4.04
1908 83 2,270 1,594 676 27.3 19.1 8.1 4.01
1909 84 2,283 1,263 1,020 27.2 15.0 12.1 4.00
1910 85 2,171 1,304 867 25.6 15.4 10.2 3.79
1911 85 2,205 1,152 1,053 25.8 13.5 12.3 3.80
1912 86 2,234 1,171 1,063 26.0 13.6 12.4 3.82
1913 87 2,216 1,060 1,156 25.6 12.2 13.3 3.76
1914 88 2,338 1,428 910 26.7 16.3 10.4 3.90
1915 89 2,446 1,376 1,070 27.6 15.5 12.1 4.00
1916 89 2,377 1,322 1,055 26.6 14.8 11.8 3.81
1917 91 2,427 1,111 1,316 26.8 12.3 14.5 3.82
1918 92 2,441 1,518 923 26.6 16.6 10.1 3.78
1919 92 2,342 1,169 1,173 25.4 12.7 12.7 3.62
1920 94 2,627 1,360 1,267 28.1 14.5 13.5 3.96
1921 95 2,601 1,478 1,123 27.4 15.6 11.8 3.87
1922 96 2,546 1,280 1,266 26.6 13.4 13.2 3.72
1923 97 2,612 1,287 1,325 26.9 13.3 13.7 3.77
1924 98 2,525 1,462 1,063 25.7 14.9 10.8 3.62
1925 99 2,554 1,229 1,325 25.7 12.4 13.3 3.59
1926 101 2,676 1,121 1,555 26.5 11.1 15.4 3.71
1927 103 2,642 1,282 1,360 25.8 12.5 13.3 3.59
1928 104 2,542 1,124 1,418 24.4 10.8 13.6 3.40
1929 106 2,644 1,237 1,407 25.0 11.7 13.3 3.47
1930 107 2,808 1,248 1,560 26.1 11.6 14.5 3.59
1931 109 2,804 1,277 1,527 25.7 11.7 14.0 3.53
1932 111 2,696 1,191 1,505 24.4 10.8 13.6 3.31
1933 112 2,531 1,159 1,372 22.5 10.3 12.2 3.07
1934 114 2,597 1,181 1,416 22.8 10.4 12.4 3.10
1935 115 2,551 1,402 1,149 22.1 12.2 10.0 2.99
1936 116 2,557 1,253 1,304 22.0 10.8 11.2 2.98
1937 117 2,397 1,317 1,080 20.4 11.2 9.2 2.78
1938 118 2,374 1,207 1,167 20.1 10.2 9.9 2.71
1939 120 2,363 1,160 1,203 19.8 9.7 10.1 2.68
1940 121 2,480 1,200 1,280 20.5 9.9 10.6 2.75
1941 122 2,634 1,352 1,282 21.6 11.1 10.5 2.91
1942 123 3,005 1,293 1,712 24.4 10.5 13.9 3.26
1943 125 3,173 1,268 1,905 25.4 10.1 15.2 3.36
1944 127 3,213 1,218 1,995 25.3 9.6 15.7 3.34
1945 129 3,434 1,179 2,255 26.6 9.1 17.5 3.55
1946 132 3,434 1,121 2,313 26.1 8.5 17.6 3.47
1947 134 3,703 1,162 2,541 27.6 8.6 18.9 3.67
1948 137 3,821 1,114 2,707 27.8 8.1 19.7 3.72
1949 140 3,884 1,106 2,778 27.8 7.9 19.9 3.73
1950 143 4,093 1,122 2,971 28.7 7.9 20.8 3.86
1951 145 3,999 1,145 2,854 27.5 7.9 19.6 3.72
1952 148 4,075 1,082 2,993 27.5 7.3 20.2 3.79
1953 151 4,254 1,118 3,136 28.1 7.4 20.7 3.94
1954 154 4,281 1,064 3,217 27.7 6.9 20.8 3.91
1955 158 4,505 1,099 3,406 28.5 7.0 21.6 4.07
1956 161 4,603 1,153 3,450 28.5 7.1 21.4 4.14
1957 165 4,725 1,157 3,568 28.6 7.0 21.6 4.20
1958 168 4,641 1,165 3,476 27.5 6.9 20.6 4.09
1959 172 4,837 1,242 3,595 28.1 7.2 20.9 4.24
1960 176 4,916 1,167 3,749 28.0 6.6 21.3 4.29
1961 179 4,563 1,248 3,315 25.5 7.0 18.5 3.88
1962 182 4,711 1,237 3,474 25.9 6.8 19.1 3.98
1963 186 4,820 1,327 3,493 26.0 7.2 18.8 4.02
1964 189 4,787 1,315 3,472 25.3 7.0 18.4 3.87
1965 192 4,721 1,291 3,430 24.6 6.7 17.8 3.73
1966 196 4,692 1,391 3,301 24.0 7.1 16.9 3.60
1967 199 4,404 1,385 3,019 22.2 7.0 15.2 3.28
1968 201 4,227 1,390 2,837 21.0 6.9 14.1 3.06
1969 203 4,218 1,451 2,767 20.8 7.2 13.6 2.99
1970 204 4,023 1,457 2,566 19.7 7.1 12.6 2.79
1971 206 4,277 1,501 2,776 20.8 7.3 13.5 2.86
1972 209 4,676 1,447 3,229 22.3 6.9 15.4 3.09
1973 212 4,598 1,475 3,123 21.7 6.9 14.7 2.95
1974 215 4,276 1,495 2,781 19.9 6.9 12.9 2.66
1975 218 4,384 1,412 2,972 20.1 6.5 13.6 2.71
1976 220 4,291 1,343 2,948 19.5 6.1 13.4 2.53
1977 222 3,996 1,435 2,561 18.0 6.5 11.5 2.32
1978 224 4,162 1,421 2,741 18.6 6.4 12.3 2.36
1979 226 4,475 1,482 2,993 19.8 6.6 13.3 2.49
1980 228 4,528 1,538 2,990 19.8 6.7 13.1 2.49
1981 231 4,345 1,656 2,689 18.8 7.2 11.7 2.33
1982 234 4,337 1,583 2,754 18.5 6.8 11.8 2.26
1983 237 4,371 1,653 2,718 18.4 7.0 11.5 2.24
1984 240 4,113 1,584 2,529 17.2 6.6 10.6 2.08
1985 241 3,856 1,652 2,204 16.0 6.8 9.1 1.93
1986 243 3,881 1,598 2,283 16.0 6.6 9.4 1.92
1987 246 4,193 1,724 2,469 17.0 7.0 10.0 2.05
1988 250 4,673 1,818 2,855 18.7 7.3 11.4 2.20
1989 253 4,560 1,716 2,844 18.0 6.8 11.3 2.17
1990 255 4,768 1,704 3,064 18.7 6.7 12.0 2.30
1991 258 4,533 1,796 2,737 17.6 7.0 10.6 2.19
1992 261 4,609 1,719 2,890 17.7 6.6 11.1 2.21
1993 264 4,623 1,753 2,870 17.5 6.6 10.9 2.22
1994 266 4,442 1,717 2,725 16.7 6.5 10.2 2.14
1995 267 4,280 1,923 2,357 16.0 7.2 8.8 2.08
1996 269 4,329 1,879 2,450 16.1 7.0 9.1 2.13
1997 271 4,151 1,843 2,308 15.3 6.8 8.5 2.04
1998 274 4,178 1,821 2,357 15.2 6.6 8.6 2.04
1999 277 4,100 1,901 2,199 14.8 6.9 7.9 1.99
2000 281 4,315 1,823 2,492 15.3 6.5 8.9 2.06
2001 285 4,091 1,725 2,366 14.4 6.1 8.3 1.95
2002 288 4,049 1,821 2,228 14.1 6.3 7.7 1.94
2003 290 4,143 1,827 2,316 14.3 6.3 8.0 1.99
2004 292 4,234 1,824 2,410 14.5 6.2 8.3 2.04
2005 297 4,280 1,838 2,442 14.4 6.2 8.2 2.05
2006 304 4,415 1,903 2,512 14.5 6.3 8.3 2.07
2007 312 4,560 1,943 2,617 14.6 6.2 8.4 2.09
2008 317 4,835 2,186 2,244 14.2 6.2 7.0 2.14
2009 318 5,026 2,002 3,024 15.7 6.3 9.4 2.22
2010 318 4,907 2,020 2,887 15.5 6.4 9.1 2.20
2011 319 4,492 1,985 2,511 14.1 6.2 7.9 2.02
2012 321 4,533 1,960 2,573 14.2 6.1 8.1 2.04
2013 324 4,326 2,154 2,172 13.4 6.6 6.7 1.93
2014 329 4,375 2,049 2,326 13.5 6.4 7.1 1.93
2015 332 4,129 2,178 1,951 12.4 6.6 5.8 1.81
2016 338 4,034 2,358 1,676 11.9 7.0 4.9 1.74

Current natural increase[13][edit]

  • Births from January–September 2016 = Decrease 3,080
  • Births from January–September 2017 = Decrease 3,040
  • Deaths from January–September 2016 = Negative increase 1,720
  • Deaths from January–September 2017 = Positive decrease 1,680
  • Natural increase from January–September 2016 = Decrease 1,360
  • Natural increase from January–September 2017 = 1,360
Residents in Iceland by country of origin
(as of 1 January 2014)[14]
Country Population %
Iceland 302,927 93.02%
Poland 10,224 3.14%
Lithuania 1,659 0.51%
Denmark 915 0.28%
Germany 910 0.28%
Latvia 696 0.21%
United Kingdom 614 0.19%
United States 607 0.19%
Philippines 558 0.17%
Thailand 531 0.16%
Portugal 527 0.16%
Spain 325 0.10%
Sweden 315 0.10%
France 301 0.09%
Norway 253 0.08%
Romania 231 0.07%
Vietnam 230 0.07%
China 217 0.07%
Italy 194 0.06%
Slovakia 189 0.06%
Czech Republic 156 0.05%
Hungary 155 0.05%
Ukraine 151 0.05%
Russia 148 0.05%
Netherlands 147 0.05%
Canada 135 0.04%
stateless 128 0.04%
Bulgaria 112 0.03%
Finland 108 0.03%
India 101 0.03%
others 1,907 0.59%
Total 325,671 100.00%
Total (excluding Icelanders) 22,744 6.98%

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics[edit]

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.

Age structure

0–14 years: 20.4% (male 35,418/female 33,887)
15–24 years: 13.5% (male 23,190/female 22,659)
25–54 years: 39.88% (male 68,579/female 66,899)
55–64: 11.81% (male 20,119/female 20,007)
65 years and over: 14.42% (male 22,963/female 26,053) (2017 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 males: 1 female
under 15 years: 1.05 males: 1 female

15–24 years: 1.03 males: 1 female

25–54 years: 1.02 males: 1 female
55–64 years: 1.01 males: 1 female
65 years and over: 0.88 males: 1 female
total population: 1.01 male: 1 female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

3 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

2.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 83.0 years
male: 80.9 years
female: 85.3 years (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

8.9% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

3.79 physicians/1,000 population (2015)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate

23.9% (2014)

Education expenditures

7.8% of GDP (2013)

Mother's mean age at first birth

27.4 (2015 est.)

Citizenship of Iceland residents.
Nationality

noun: Icelander(s)
adjective: Icelandic

Ethnic groups

94% Icelandic, 6% other

Religions

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland (official) 69.9%, Roman Catholic 3.8%, Reykjavik Free Church 2.9%, Hafnarfjorour Free Church 2%, Asatru Association 1.1%, The Independent Congregation 1%, other religions 4% (includes Zuist and Pentecostal), none 6.1%, other or unspecified 9.2% (2017 est.)

Languages

Icelandic (English and a second Nordic language, Danish by default, are also a part of the Icelandic compulsory education)[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Einn af hverjum tíu innflytjandi". RÚV. 2017-06-17. Retrieved 2017-06-17. 
  2. ^ Agnar Helgason; Eileen Hickey; Sara Goodacre; Vidar Bosnes; Ka´ri Stefa´nsson; Ryk Ward; Bryan Sykes (2001). "mtDNA and the Islands of the North Atlantic: Estimating the Proportions of Norse and Gaelic Ancestry" (PDF). Am. J. Hum. Genet. 68: 723–737. 
  3. ^ Agnar Helgason; Sigrún Sigurðardóttir; Jeffrey R. Gulcher; Ryk Ward; Kári Stefánsson (2000). "mtDNA and the Origin of the Icelanders: Deciphering Signals of Recent Population History". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 66: 999–1016. 
  4. ^ Karlsson, Gunnar (2000). History of Iceland. p. 234. 
  5. ^ "Efnahagslegt sjónarhorn á móttöku flóttamanna" (PDF). Arion Banki. 
  6. ^ a b "Ísland að breytast í innflytjendaþjóð". RÚV. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  7. ^ "Aldrei lægra hlutfall Íslendinga í Þjóðkirkjunni – Zúistar nærri 1 prósent þjóðarinnar". Eyjan.pressan.is. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  8. ^ "Population - key figures 1703-2017". Px.hagstofa.is. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Karlsson, Gunnar (2000). History of Iceland. p. 236. 
  10. ^ Björnsson, Davíd F.; Zoega, Gylfi (2017-06-26). "Seasonality of birth rates in agricultural Iceland". Scandinavian Economic History Review. 0 (0): 1–13. doi:10.1080/03585522.2017.1340333. ISSN 0358-5522. 
  11. ^ Bjarnason, Thoroddur; Edvardsson, Ingi Runar (August 2017). "University pathways of urban and rural migration in Iceland". Journal of Rural Studies. 54: 244–254. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.07.001. 
  12. ^ "Frontpage - Hagstofa". Hagstofa. 
  13. ^ "Inhabitants Overview - Quarterly Data". Statistics Iceland. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  14. ^ "Population by country of citizenship, sex and age 1 January 1998-2014". Reykjavík, Iceland: Statistics Iceland. 
  15. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). Bella.mrn.stjr.is. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 

External links[edit]