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Demographics of the Nordics - Statistics & Facts

The Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden are known for their welfare systems, egalitarianism, and high quality of life among the population. In terms of area, Sweden is the largest country in the region, but Norway is slightly larger if the island Svalbard is taken into account. Sweden also has, by far, the largest population with 10.45 million inhabitants. Denmark, Finland, and Norway all have between five and six million inhabitants, while Iceland has the smallest population with only 370,000 inhabitants. A high number of the countries' inhabitants lives in the capital areas, and over 60 percent of the population in all countries live in urban areas. The average age in all five Nordic countries is increasing, and hence, one of the challenges facing the Nordic countries in the coming decades is a shrinking working population and a larger share of elderly.

Migration

Over the past decades, the total population increased in all five Nordic countries. The main reason behind this is that there were more people immigrating to the countries than emigrating from them over the past years. There were varying numbers of immigrants entering the Nordic countries over the past decades, as is to be expected with their different size and population. Sweden was the country that constantly received the highest number of immigrants, whereas Denmark registered the highest number of emigrants. Moreover, the number of immigrants as a share of the countries' total population has increased. The immigrants' country of origin varies between the five countries, but in general, a high number came either from other European countries or countries in the Middle East.

Births and deaths

Another factor contributing to the increasing population in the Nordic countries are that more people are born each year than people dying. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the countries in 2020, the death rate was decreasing in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, whereas it was increasing in Finland and fluctuating in Iceland. Since 2013, Finland is the Nordic country with the highest death rate. It is also the country with the lowest number of births per thousand inhabitants, and it has constantly been decreasing since 2010. Moreover, fertility rates have been decreasing in all Nordic countries except Denmark over the last decade, but in 2019, both Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden had higher fertility rates than the EU average.

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