More than 50,000 Immigrants in Iceland

Vala Hafstað

There were 50,272 immigrants in Iceland on January 1 this year, or 14.1 percent of the population – up from 12.6 percent a year earlier, according to Statistics Iceland. In 2012, they represented 8 percent of the population. An immigrant is defined as a person born abroad with both parents foreign-born and all grandparents foreign-born.

The number of second generation immigrants, that is, people born in Iceland of immigrant parents, rose as well - from 4,861 in 2018 to 5,263 in 2019. Finally, Icelanders of foreign background, that is, people who have one parent of foreign origin, or who are born abroad to Icelandic parents, represent 6.9 percent of the population.

First and second generation immigrants combined currently represent 15.6 percent of Iceland’s population.

People born in Poland were the largest group of immigrants in 2019, as in previous years. They numbered 19,172, or 38.1 percent of the total immigrant population. Second most numerous were people born in Lithuania (2,884), followed by those born in the Philippines (1,968).

On January 1 this year, 63.6 percent of first and second generation immigrants were living in the capital region. The highest proportion of immigrants per local population was in Reykjanes, where first and second generation immigrants made up 26.6 percent of the local population, while that proportion was the lowest in Northwest Iceland, or 7.5 percent.

A total of 569 persons were granted Icelandic citizenship in 2018, down from 637 in 2017. More females than males were granted Icelandic citizenship in 2018, as in every year since 1992. Most of the new Icelandic citizens were of Polish origin, or 149.

In 2018, 247 persons were granted international protection in Iceland – a record number.  Of these, 78 persons were Iraqi citizens and 28 Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, asylum requests in 2018 decreased by a third from the previous year, from 1,068 to 731.

For more information, visit Statistics Iceland.

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