Iceland's Population Declines for First Time in 120 Years Skip to content

Iceland’s Population Declines for First Time in 120 Years

Icelandic residents counted 319,246 on July 1 this year—a decrease of 109 people from the same time last year, according to Statistics Iceland. The number of Icelandic inhabitants hasn’t dropped between years since 1889, for 120 years.

Icelanders protesting outside parliament in November 2008. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Reykjavík has 879 fewer inhabitants than last year. However, inhabitants increased in other settlements in the capital region; by 676 in Hafnarfjördur and 600 in Kópavogur, ruv.is reports.

From July 1, 2008 to July 1, 2009, inhabitants in all regions increased apart from east Iceland, where the number of residents dropped by approximately eight percent and west Iceland where the decrease measured 0.6 percent.

Comparatively, the number of inhabitants increased the most in the West Fjords, where the population grew by 2.3 percent.

According to Statistics Iceland, the majority of emigrants, especially those emigrating from east Iceland, are foreign workers who were involved in the construction of power plants and aluminum smelters and are now returning to their home countries.

Click here to read about the current baby boom in Iceland and here to read about looming mass emigration.

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