Demographic History of Iceland

Note : this page is conceived telegram-style and selective (lists of wars deemed destructive, lists of epidemic diseases, years of famine etc.)
The data given below refer to Denmark in her post-1920 borders, without Greenland, Iceland and the Faroes.

Aging Society
Deportation & Genocide
Religious Minorities : Catholics, Jews
Epidemic, Pandemic Diseases
Labour Migration : Immigration, Emigration
Political Refugees : Emigrants, Immigrants
Population Statistics
Rural Population
Wartime Destruction : Battleground Iceland

Aging Society
Due to a decrease in the birth rate and increasing life expectancy, since the 1960es the average age of the Icelandic citizen has gradually increased.

Deportation & Genocide
1627 Algerian pirate raid, abduct Icelanders into slavery

Religious Minorities : Catholics
When the Reformation was introduced in 1537, Catholicism maintained support among the Icelandic population until 1550. Danish law forbade Catholics to set foot on Iceland for centuries. French priests attempted to reestablish Catholicism since 1859. In 1968 the Catholic diocese of Iceland was created; presently the number of Catholics on Iceland is c. 7,000, of whom about half are foreigners.

Religious Minorities : Jews
Jewish immigration did not begin prior to the 20th century, reached a climax in 1938-1939 (refugees from Germany). Community minute.

Epidemic, Pandemic Diseases
1402 Plague struck Iceland
1707-1709 Smallpox
1918-1919 Spanish Influenza struck Iceland

1602-1787 Danish company held a monopoly on trade with Iceland. In years when the company failed to send a ship to Iceland, the Icelanders suffered famine.
1752-1757 Great Famine
1784-1785 following volcanic eruption in 1783
1882 Famine (NYT)

Labour Migration : Immigration
870-930 Norse settlement of Iceland
870-930 Celts brought in as slaves

Labour Migration : Emigration
1855- to United States, Canada

Political Refugees : Emigrants
Most famous Erik the Red (10th century), who established first settlement in Greenland; he fled the law in Iceland

Political Refugees : Immigrants (in part temporary)
1938-1939 German Jews
1999- Kosovo Albanians

Population Statistics
Censi held in 1703, 1769, 1801, 1835, 1840, 1845, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1901, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960

Rural Population
Iceland was a non-feudal society; serfdom, from the introcuction of christianity (c.1000) was not an issue.

Reykjavik developed into an urban center in the 20th century (1901 6,700 inhabitants, 1950 56,300, 2001 112,300)

Wartime Destruction : Battlefield Iceland
irrelevant; 1809 coup bloodless, British occupation 1940, U.S. occupation 1941-1945 not resisted

Article History of the Jews in Iceland, Icelanders, Demographics of Iceland, Religion in Iceland, from Wikipedia
DOCUMENTS Iceland, from Population Statistics by Jan Lahmeyer
REFERENCE B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics 1750-1988 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted om May 25th 2008

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