Immigrant Numbers Continue to Rise Skip to content

Immigrant Numbers Continue to Rise

By Iceland Review

The number of immigrants in Iceland continues to increase, according to Statistics Iceland.

As of January 1, 2017, there were 35,997 immigrants in Iceland, or 10.6 percent of the population. This is an increase from last year when immigrants made up 9.6 percent of the population (31,812). The number of second-generation immigrants also increased, from 4,158 a year earlier to 4,473 today. In total, first- and second-generation immigrants account for a record-high 12 percent of the population. The number of individuals with foreign backgrounds, other than immigrants, increased fractionally, from 6.7 percent of the population last year to 6.8 percent now.

Statistics Iceland defines an immigrant (also called ‘first-generation immigrant’) as a person born abroad to parents who were also born abroad, as well as both of his or her grandparents. A second-generation immigrant is defined as an individual born in Iceland to parents who are both immigrants. People are said to have a foreign background if one of their parents is foreign. Individuals born abroad to parents both born in Iceland are also considered to have a foreign background.

As in previous years, Poles are by far the largest group of immigrants to Iceland by nationality. As of January 1 this year, 13,771 individuals were from Poland, or 38.3 percent of all immigrants. Immigrants from Lithuania were the second largest group by nationality (at 5.2 percent of all immigrants) and immigrants from the Philippines in third place (4.5 percent).

Polish men accounted for 42.3 percent of all male immigrants, or 7,839 of 18,552. Lithuanian men were the second largest group (5.8 percent), followed by men from the UK (3.2 percent). Polish women accounted for 34.0 percent of female immigrants, followed by women from the Philippines (6.2 percent) and Thailand (4.7 percent).

Last year, 703 individuals received Icelandic citizenship, which was down from 2015 when 801 individuals became Icelandic citizens. The majority of the 703 individuals granted Icelandic citizenship were Polish nationals (224), followed by nationals of the Philippines (55). In 1991, more men than women received Icelandic citizenship, but since then, women have consistently been in the majority. This was also the case last year when 411 women received Icelandic citizenship compared with 292 men.

The Statistics Iceland website puts the overall population of Iceland as of January 1 this year at 338,349.

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