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Iceland People - 2024


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


360,872 (2023 est.)


noun: Icelander(s)

adjective: Icelandic

Ethnic groups

Icelandic 81.3%, Polish 5.6%, Danish 1%, other 12.1% (2021 est.)

note: data represent population by country of birth


Icelandic, English, Nordic languages, German


Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland (official) 62.3%, Roman Catholic 4%, Independent Congregation of Reykjavik 2.7%, Independent Congregation of Hafnarfjordur 2%, pagan worship 1.4%, Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association 1.1%, other (includes Zuist and Pentecostal) or unspecified 19%, none 7.6% (2021 est.)

Demographic profile

Iceland is one of the most gender-equal countries in the world.  Its welfare policies enable both men and women to balance work and family life.  Iceland lagged its Nordic neighbors in introducing new childcare policies, and even when they did in the 1990s, parents still faced a childcare gap between the paid parental leave period and the start of pre-school. The female labor participation rate continued to grow from the 1960s to the 2000s, as women’s educational attainment increased.  Icelanders are marrying later, if they marry at all, and people are having children later.  The interval between births has decreased. Non-marital cohabitation and childbearing outside of marriage are common. Approximately 2 out of 3 children are born out of wedlock, which is among the highest in Europe.  Iceland’s total fertility rate (TFR) has been fairly stable, hovering around replacement level (2.1 children per woman), for decades – a rate higher even than its Nordic neighbors. 

Iceland has fluctuated over time between being a country of net emigration and one of net immigration.  Most Icelandic emigrants return to their native country after a few years.  From 1960 to 1996, Iceland registered a net outflow, followed by a net inflow until the 2008 banking crisis. During and after the crisis, more Icelanders left the country than immigrated to it.  Following the crisis, Iceland returned to being a country of net immigration.  In 2017, the country’s foreign-born population accounted for 11% of the population and 17% had an immigrant background.  The countries of origin have become more diverse over time, with Polish immigrants composing the largest share in 2017. Foreigners acquiring Icelandic citizenship must have a basic comprehension of the Icelandic language.  The requirement that new citizens modify or change their names to be more Icelandic was dropped in 1996.  The most popular emigration destination was Sweden, followed by Denmark and Norway in 2021.

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.98% (male 36,771/female 35,314)

15-64 years: 63.39% (male 115,547/female 113,212)

65 years and over: 16.63% (2023 est.) (male 28,410/female 31,618)

2023 population pyramid:

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 50.5

youth dependency ratio: 28

elderly dependency ratio: 22.5

potential support ratio: 4.5 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 37.8 years (2023 est.)

male: 37.2 years

female: 38.4 years

Population growth rate

0.89% (2023 est.)

Birth rate

12.8 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Death rate

6.6 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Net migration rate

2.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Population distribution

Iceland is almost entirely urban with half of the population located in and around the capital of Reykjavik; smaller clusters are primarily found along the coast in the north and west


urban population: 94% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.74% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

216,000 REYKJAVIK (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

28.7 years (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

3 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 1.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 1.8 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 1.4 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 83.8 years (2023 est.)

male: 81.6 years

female: 86.2 years

Total fertility rate

1.95 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Gross reproduction rate

0.95 (2023 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate


Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

9.6% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

4.14 physicians/1,000 population (2019)

Hospital bed density

2.8 beds/1,000 population (2019)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

21.9% (2016)

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 7.72 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 4.39 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 2.11 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 1.22 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Tobacco use

total: 12% (2020 est.)

male: 11.9% (2020 est.)

female: 12% (2020 est.)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight


Currently married women (ages 15-49)

45.1% (2023 est.)

Education expenditures

7.7% of GDP (2020 est.)


total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 19 years

male: 18 years

female: 21 years (2020)

NOTE: The information regarding Iceland on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Iceland 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Iceland 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.