Icelanders of Polish descent

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Poles in Iceland
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Reyðarfjörður, Reykjavík, Tálknafjörður, Eskifjörður, Neskaupstaður, Kópavogur, Akranes Reykjanesbær, Hafnarfjörður
Polish language  · English language  · Icelandic language
Roman Catholicism

There are estimated to be 10,141 Polish people living in Iceland, or 3.1% of the country's population. Although small compared to the size of immigrant groups in other countries, that makes them the biggest minority ethnic group in Iceland. As of 2010, they represented 37% of immigrants in Iceland.[1]

There have been several different migratory movements of Poles to Iceland. The earliest on record occurred at the turn of the 19th century after Poland lost its statehood. However, for much of the 20th century, Poles were very restricted in their ability to travel outside of communist Poland at all. More recently, in 2004, an influx occurred in Iceland after Poland joined the European Union, thereby allowing Polish citizens to work in other European Union countries more easily. In 2006, Iceland's construction industry boomed and Polish workers were increasingly hired to fulfill work demands. Within a year, the number of Polish immigrants in the country increased by 81%. Poland also joined Iceland in the Schengen Zone in 2007.[1] Poles do not need work or resident permits to live and work in Iceland.[2] The global financial crisis of 2008 incited further immigration to Iceland.[1]

Many Poles in the country view their time in Iceland as temporary and show little interest in assimilating to Icelandic culture.[1] The demographic is largely endogamous and insular. Polish Icelanders typically speak Polish, watch Polish television, continue to practice Catholicism and have opened Polish restaurants.[2] A study conducted in 2012 suggested that most Polish Icelanders used the English language more often than Icelandic in their daily lives, found English more useful and often learned it before learning Icelandic.[1] Despite their reluctance to assimilate, however, Poles have not been met with much xenophobia in Iceland.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Zaorska, Katarzyna Dorota (May 2012). "2. Literature Review". Language Use by Polish Immigrants in Iceland: English or Icelandic? (PDF) (B.A. Essay). University of Iceland. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Broder, Henryk M. (June 20, 2011). "Iceland's Face of Immigration Is Distinctly Polish". Time (Time Inc.). Retrieved 11 July 2015. 

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