Results of 2021 Census Reveal Changes in Icelandic Society

Reykjavík old historic centre

Statistics Iceland has recently published new data from the 2021 census, revealing a growing nation and shifting demographics.

Here, we break down some of the major takeaways. The full report can be found here.

As of January 1, 2022, Iceland is home to some 359,122 residents. This represents a 13.8% increase from the last census, taken in 2011. Statistics Iceland reports a discrepancy of some 10,000 inhabitants with the records of Registers Iceland.

This population growth is distributed very unevenly across Iceland. Suðurnes, the region of the Reykjanes peninsula outside of the capital area, has grown by some 28%, with South Iceland following at 19%, and the capital region at 15%. The slowest growers have been Northwest Iceland, at 0.6%, and the Westfjords, at 1.6%.

However, these numbers are not entirely telling the full story. Although no region has experienced a population decline on average, the countryside is still decreasing in residents. In West Iceland, for instance, when the town of Akranes in included, the region saw overall growth. But when Akranes is not accounted for, the region as a whole decreased in population considerably.

On average, Iceland has 3.5 inhabitants per square kilometre.

Iceland, like many other Western nations, is also an ageing nation. In 2011, the proportion of the population 67 and older was 11%, but this figure now stands at 13%.

The gender balance has also shifted slightly since the last census. In 2011, some 49.9% of Icelanders identified as women, but according to the latest figures, that figure now rests at 49%.