In 2016 Iceland had about 332 000 inhabitants. In this year 9,6 percent of the population of the county were born in other countries, compared to 2 percent in 1996.
The largest groups of immigrants came in 2016 from Poland, Lithuania and Philippines. In 2015 there were 354 asylum seekers in Iceland. In 2016 this number was 1 132 persons.
The issue of integration is relatively new for Iceland. Those who had earlier arrived to Iceland, had come to work there. During the last 20 years only 634 persons have arrived as quota refugees via UN or as asylum seekers on their own. It is different from other Nordic countries that the labour market issue is not mentioned as a challenge concerning integration. Unemployment among immigrants in Iceland is low.
- The housing situation on the other hand is a more complicated topic, especially in the region around Reykjavik. It is quite usual in Iceland to own the place for living, the market of rental apartments is therefore very limited. Most of the immigrants are poor and have therefor no possibility to buy a home.
- In Iceland there are separate systems for receiving and supporting the quota refugees and the asylum seekers. There is an ambition that these two systems should come closer to each other.
- Many point out that the key to integration is language. Courses in Icelandic for immigrants are arranged only in bigger cities. The foreign born children did not earlier have a possibility for education in their home language – partly because there were so few of them, partly because of shortage of resources. This is changing now and on Saturdays the schools in Reykjavik have lessons in the home language of these children.