Record Number Living in Regional Iceland

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Record Number Living in Regional Iceland

Seyðisfjörður

Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

Never before have as many Icelanders lived outside the capital area, new numbers from Statistics Iceland indicate. It has often been said that an exodus of people from more rural areas has been transpiring in recent years and the assertion that population growth is down everywhere but in the capital region has been a popular one. This is far from the case, although certain regions are in a poorer state than others, visir.is reports.

Þóroddur Bjarnason, professor at the University of Akureyri, who has studied the development of settlements in Iceland, said in an interview with visir.is that about 92 percent of the nation lives in three growing areas of the country; in the southwest, the mid-northern region and the mid-eastern region. “Diverse metropolitan communities in Reykjavík and Akureyri support surrounding communities up to an hour away, and in the east the counties of Fljótsdalshérað and Fjarðabyggð form a relatively diverse business and service region ... The continued growth of these areas must be insured, but they are not under any immediate threat,” he added.

Those communities which consist of small towns and villages, far from each other, and far from service centers, and which mostly revolve around a single industry, such as fishing or agriculture, are those facing the greatest population reductions, claimed Þóroddur. “A serious population problem is affecting a small part of the nation. Therefore it would be relatively easy to respond to that in a focused and systematic way, if the will of the people is there, but for such actions popular support would be necessary,” he said.

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