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Never As Many Children With Foreign Background In Iceland

Never As Many Children With Foreign Background In Iceland

Alice Demurtas
Words by
Photos by
Art Bicnick
AdobeStock

Published May 29, 2018

Children who are either immigrants, second generation immigrants or come from a partially Icelandic family have doubled since last year and have now reached a total of 15,634—a number that has never been higher in the history of Iceland.

A steady increase
According to Statistics Iceland, the figures are three times higher than in 2016, but the data is even more striking if compared to ten years ago. In 2007, in fact, children who boasted a foreign background amounted to 3% of the country’s population—a number that has increased by a striking 67% since then.

This does not come as a surprise, considering that last year Iceland welcomed about 7,888 immigrants, and about 1,090 in the first three months of 2018. Although these figures include young workers or temporary labour force, the number of foreign children has also steadily increased.

Where are they from?
At the beginning of 2017 Iceland counted 2,453 foreign children, 4,135 second-generation immigrants, 7,108 were born in Iceland but had immigrant parents and 1938 were born abroad and had one foreign parent. Although the number of foreign children had been steadily increasing 5% a year in the past decade, the turning year was 2016, when authorities registered a 10.4% increase since the year before.

On the other hand, the number of asylum seeking children has decreased drastically since 2016, when authorities counted 276 applications. Last year, instead only 176 children applied for international protection in Iceland while fleeing from Georgia, Albania, Iraq and Macedonia.

Interestingly enough, Statistics Iceland has also found out that 12.6% of kids registered in kindergartens don’t consider Icelandic their mother tongue. The percentage decreases to 9.3% in primary school, with 38% of them being Polish. This is also unsurprising, as Polish people are one of the largest groups of immigrants in Iceland—17,000 and counting, and now 21 times more than twenty years ago.


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