Over the past century, Iceland has significantly changed its society and composition, more than in the previous 1,126 years. According to The Book of the Settlements, the first family to settle in Iceland were Hallgerður Fróðadóttir and Ingólfur Arnarson from Western Norway, along with their family and enslaved Irish (Gaelic) people. The Icelandic nation was predominantly Nordic for over a millennium, with some Celtic heritage. Approximately 300 years ago, there were 57,717 Icelanders. However, if there had been no hardships such as the Famine of the Mist in 1783 or mass emigration due to difficulties at the end of the 19th century, Iceland’s population would have been around 1.2 million today, according to calculations made by history professors at the University of Iceland, Guðmundur Jónsson and Helgi Skúli Kjartansson.
Statistics Iceland released figures from the National Register today, revealing that the population of Iceland is 398,665. The percentage of foreign citizens in the country has reached 18.7%. The highest percentage of foreign citizens is in the southernmost municipality of Mýrdalshreppi, where 61.7% of residents have foreign citizenship. In Reykjavík, the largest municipality in Iceland, almost one in four people (22.3% of the population) is a foreign citizen. In Reyknanesbær, the fourth most populous municipality, one in three people (33.1%) have a foreign nationality. The smallest and most remote municipality in Iceland, Árneshreppur, located north of Strandir in the Westfjords, has the lowest percentage of foreign citizens, which is only 3.8% or two out of the 53 inhabitants who live there in the north of the world.
Access to good healthcare services is crucial in a nation experiencing rapid growth and ageing. To meet this need, a new Landspítali is currently under construction at Hringbraut, the biggest building project in Iceland’s history. Below are some snapshots of the ongoing construction as of today.
Photographs & text: Páll Stefánsson