The Icelandic population has seen recent changes in its population and demographics. We highlight these changes to give you an idea of the population of Iceland and its future. Is Iceland’s population predicted to grow? Is there an unusual ratio between males and females? We answer all these questions and more in this article.
What is Iceland’s Population in 2021?
Most of these people live in the Capital Region of Iceland in or around Reykjavik. There are about 235,000 of the total inhabitants that live in that portion of Iceland.
The Southern region of Iceland is the next most populated area, both historically and currently. It contains 31,388 of the total population. The next most populated area in the Northeast, with 30,613 people of the almost 350,000 people on the island.
The least populated area in Iceland is the Westfjords. The Westfjords is home to only about 7,100 people.
Iceland’s population growth has been decreasing over the last four years. From the year 2017 to 2018, there was a 0.69% population increase. However, from 2020 to 2021, there was only an increase of 0.62% in the population.
Iceland is a large island, having about 103,000 square kilometers of landmass. Since the island’s population is relatively small compared to areas like the United States, the United Kingdom, and most of Europe, people have quite a bit more space to live. There are about 3.5 square kilometers for each person.
What will the Iceland Population Be in 2025?
The current population forecast for Iceland in 2025 will grow to 386,149 inhabitants. There is currently a prediction that the population will expand slightly and exponentially in 20 years.
What is the Rate of Change of the Iceland Population by Years?
Iceland’s population has been steadily growing each year. The growth rate is decreasing but is expected to increase again in future years.
From 2011 to 2012, the rate of change in Iceland’s population was 0.67%. However, it decreased to 0.47% from 2012 to 2013. It hit the lowest it’s been in ten years in 2014 with a rate of population change that was only 0.43%.
The change rate in Iceland increased slightly to 0.50% in 2015 and expanded again in 2016 to 0.59%. In 2017, it was near the top of its trend, a 0.66% growth rate. 2018 and 2019 both saw an increase of 0.69%, and then the rate of change began to decrease again in 2020 to 0.65%.
How is the Population Density in Iceland?
The population in and around Reykjavik is the highest by far. From there, the next density is the area of Kopavogur, which is also quite close to Reykjavik. The other orange and red areas with a relatively high population density on the map include:
Otherwise, the remainder of Iceland is sparsely populated, with 2,000 people or less in the area.
Is Every Region of Iceland Livable?
Iceland’s location across two tectonic plates means that not all of the country is livable. The country has approximately 30 active volcanic systems. Since AD 874, 13 of these 30 have erupted. These active volcanic systems mean that only about 20% of the country is livable.
Reykjavik is considered one of the safest places to live on the island. That is why almost everywhere else consists of villages in safe places from geothermal or volcanic activity. The only other larger exception to this is perhaps Akureyri in the Northern half of the island.
What is the Male to Female Ratio in Iceland?
Iceland’s male to female ratio is 100.91 males per 100 females. During the 2020 population survey, there were about 10,000 more male inhabitants than females.
Interestingly, Iceland has been recorded as one of the world’s most feminist countries since 2011. The country’s government provides parents with gender-neutral parental leave. Each parent gets a quota and has a transferable part to the other parent.
Even though there are slightly more men than women on the island, Iceland’s historical culture has helped to keep everything gender-neutral. Iceland was settled by a people who prized ‘strong women.’
The women enjoyed liberties in this culture early on as they could serve as high-ranking priestesses, poets, runemasters, oracles, and doctors. This gender trend has been carried through the commonwealth period through the ages.
What is the Adults to Children Ratio in Iceland?
The latest report of the children to an adult population from 2018 stated there were 3.2 children under three years old per adult. That compares to the 5.4 children under 3 per adult in 2015. Both of these were the lowest rates among all the Eurostat countries.
Why is Iceland’s Population Low?
Iceland has the lowest population density out of all the European countries. Although Iceland has been rated as one of the happiest countries in the world according to the World Happiness Report, people are far from flocking to its shores.
Geography and climate are the two most influential aspects that keep Iceland’s population consistently low. Iceland’s economy and cost of living have far less to do with population increase than many other European countries.
How Iceland’s Geography Affected Population
One of the reasons tourists flocks to Iceland’s shores each year is because of its extreme geography. Since the island rests on the active geologic border between Europe and North America, it has many active volcanoes and a lot of geothermal activity.
Its climate and geography have shaped Iceland into a land of vivid contrast. Glaciers and volcanoes have shaped the geography of Iceland. There are large glaciers that still rest on the island, such as Vatnajokull. There are also rugged mountain ranges, some of Europe’s largest, that make their way across Iceland. These ranges make certain parts of Iceland challenging to live in and travel through.
Icelanders have utilized some of these extreme geographical conditions to their benefit. For example, the heat from volcanic geysers provides warmth for many of the country’s buildings. They also create the prime requirements for agricultural hothouses.
However, regardless of ingenuity, this formidable geography limits migration into the country quite a bit compared to other European countries.
How Iceland’s Climate Affected Population
The climate of Iceland also impacts the population. The temperature can swing rapidly, going from around 5 degrees Celsius during the winter to -20 degrees Celsius at night.
Iceland does benefit from the Gulf Stream just offshore. This consistent wave of warmth provides a relatively mild climate for the island, one of the world’s northernmost inhabited locations.
Iceland is not one of the sunniest places in the world by far. Annually, Reykjavik only sees about 1,300 hours of sun. That compares to the UK, known for its gloominess, which still receives more sunlight at around 1,493 hours per year.
What Languages Does the Iceland Population Speak?
The official language of Iceland is Icelandic. About 93.2% of the people in Iceland speak Icelandic.
The highest percentage of immigrants are Polish and Lithuanian. That equates to about 2.74% of the population speaking Polish and about 0.43% speaking Lithuanian.
Other than their native Icelandic, Icelanders typically speak other languages fluently. These languages in Iceland can include but aren’t limited to Danish, Spanish, German, and French. In school, English is taught as a second language. That means about 98% of the population of Iceland speaks English.
What Religions Does the Iceland Population Believe?
Historically, Icelanders practiced a form of paganism brought over by the people that colonized the island back in AD 874. However, now only about 1.4% of the population practice the religion called ‘Heathenry.’
Currently, the most commonly practiced religion is Lutheran, which is also called the Church of Iceland. A whopping 62.28% of the population believes in Lutheranism.
There are also other iterations of Lutheranism that an additional 5.59% of the population practice. These include:
- Free Lutheran Church in Reykjavik
- Independent Lutheran Congregation
- Free Lutheran Church in Hafnarfjordur
Otherwise, the other religions in Iceland include the belief in the Catholic Church. About 3.97% of the Icelandic population practices Catholicism. Finally, there is Humanism, which about 1.11% of the country practices. Buddhism, Islam, and Zuism are all practiced on the island. Each has less than 0.5% of the population that believes in the religion.
What are the Demographic Statistics on the Iceland Population?
The demographic of Iceland lives in urban areas. About 99% of the nation’s inhabitants populate the urban areas, 60%, within the Capital Region. The population of the nation’s inhabitants living in Iceland’s rural areas is so low because of the geographical conditions and relative distance to services.
What are the Ethnic Structures that Make up the Iceland Population?
The ethnic structures that makeup Iceland are not highly varied because of the lack of overall immigration.
The highest period of immigration to Iceland was during its original colonization. There was a steady influx of people to the island for 60 years after its discovery and colonization. Historians estimate that 60 to 80% of them were Norse from Norway. The others are assumed to be from Celtic stock in Ireland and Scotland.
Since then, the Nordic and Celtic people have merged with no clear distinctions. It is this population that makes up the Icelandic people. These Icelandic people make up 91.1% of the country’s population. The following highest percentage is Polish, with about 4.1% of the total population being Poles.
The next highest is Lithuanian, with a 0.7% ethnic composition in Iceland. Asian people groups make up another 0.7% of the Icelandic population. Recently immigrated Nordic people are about 0.5% of the people. Other European immigrants are only about 0.5% of the population. About 2.4% of the population is simply registered under ‘other’ and could collectively be from anywhere.
The population of immigrants has had a minimal effect on Iceland’s ethnic and folk structure.
Does Iceland Have a Mixed Population?
Iceland does not have a very mixed population, as we can see in the statistics listed above. This is primarily because of the shallow migration rate into Iceland.
Most people come from northern Europe, but they are still predominantly white and don’t have varied ethnic backgrounds. So it makes the population of Iceland highly homogenous.
What are Birth and Death Rates in Iceland?
Iceland’s population change is determined by birth and death components. There is an estimated single birth every 131 minutes. Comparatively, there is one death about every 240 minutes.
There is only about one death of a child under five months old out of 1,000 babies in Iceland. That makes their mortality rate extremely low.
However, their fertility rate has also decreased significantly in the last 50 years. In 1960, there were about 4.29 births per woman. Compared to the most recent stat in 2019, there are only 1.75 births per woman.
Immigration into the country is not a highly contributing factor. There is only one migrant on average, about every 1,440 minutes. That works out to a net gain of one person to Iceland’s population every 240 minutes, making the net change about six people every day.
Iceland has an average life expectancy (including both sexes) of 83.52 years. Females have an average life expectancy of 84.9, and males have a life expectancy of 82.15 years, making it one of the minor life expectancy gaps globally.
Iceland is ranked 10th in the world by its life expectancy. They are beaten just slightly by the Channel Islands, Australia, Spain, and Italy. South Korea and Israel follow behind them.
What is the Literacy Rate of the Iceland Population?
Iceland’s educational system is highly effective, as evidenced by the country’s literacy rate of 99%. Their unemployment rate is only about 2.7%. Their literacy rate has stayed the same for the last ten years, resting at 99.9%. Iceland is considered the third most literate nation globally with this literacy rate.