Iceland Population and Language

Iceland is Europe’s most sparsely populated country. Only one fifth of the land area is inhabited, almost exclusively the coastal strip. Nearly two-thirds of the population lives in the capital Reykjavík and its surroundings.

Iceland Population Forecast

Iceland has an unusually uniform population, originally from Norwegian immigrants (see Older history). Most of today’s immigrants also come from the Nordic countries, but in recent years Iceland has also received labor and refugees from other parts of the world.

  • COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Iceland, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.

Icelandic is a western Nordic language with roots in the ancient Norwegian Viking Age. Basic vocabulary and grammar have not undergone any major changes since the Viking Age, but the pronunciation has changed a lot. There is resistance to using foreign loan words. New words are formed as far as possible from the old vocabulary.

Iceland has retained the old tradition – which also existed in Sweden – to give the children a son or daughter name that is based on the father’s or – which has become increasingly common – mother’s first name. Surnames or family names in our opinion only exist exceptionally. In the telephone directory, people are listed by first name. Even in official contexts, people are addressed with the first name or the whole name.

Iceland Population and Language



Icelanders about 90%; largest minorities are Danes and Swedes

Number of residents

341 284 (2017)

Number of residents per square kilometer

3 (2017)

Percentage of residents in the cities

93.8 percent (2017)

Nativity / birth

12.0 per 1000 residents (2016)

Mortality / mortality

6.9 per 1000 residents (2016)


1.7 percent (2017)

fertility rate

1.8 number of births per woman (2016)

Percentage of women

49.8 percent (2017)

Life expectancy

82 years (2016)

Life expectancy for women

84 years (2016)

Life expectancy for men

81 years (2016)





Bank executives are sentenced to prison

Four former senior executives at Kaupthing Bank are sentenced to between three and five years in prison for illegally withholding important information during the financial crisis of 2008. They also have to pay large sums in court costs.

Police action with deadly exit

Police kill an armed man in Reykjavík in connection with an exchange of gunfire. The incident attracts a lot of attention on the island, as it is said to be the first time a police operation leads to the death of a suspected criminal.


Iceland resumes whaling

Iceland resumes commercial whaling with a quota of 154 herring whales.


EU negotiations are suspended

The new government cancels all negotiations for an Icelandic EU membership.

New bourgeois government is presented

The Independence Party and the Progress Party form a majority government. Progress Party leader Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson becomes Prime Minister and Bjarni Benediktsson Chairman of the Independence Party is appointed Minister of Finance.


Big election victory for the bourgeois

The general election becomes a big victory for the bourgeois opposition. The Independence Party and the Progress Party receive 19 seats each, giving them a majority in everything. The Social Democrats lose more than half of their seats, as do the Left-Green. Progress Party leader Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson gets the assignment to form a new government.


The EFTA Court frees Iceland

The EFTA Court states that Iceland did not violate the EEA Agreement or EU rules and did not discriminate against British and Dutch customers in connection with Icesave’s bankruptcy. Despite the outcome, Iceland intends to continue to pay to the UK and the Netherlands, which compensated its citizens and subsequently demanded compensation from Iceland.

The government pauses in EU negotiations

The government announces to the EU that it will allow negotiations to rest until the outcome of the general election in April is clear. The two coalition parties still disagree on the EU issue.