There a less children living in Longyearbyen now than earlier. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Every fourth on Svalbard is a foreigner

The overall population on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard has not changed much during the last years, but the components of it certainly have.
April 12, 2016


Svalbard had a total of 2,654 residents on January 1 2016. This is 13 less than during the last six months of 2015, new data from Statistics Norway show.

Despite massive layoffs in Store Norske mining company during the last year and predictions that Longyearbyen could be losing a quarter of its population, the population in the Norwegian settlements has only gone down with 37 people, to 2,152. Statistics Norway calls the changes “normal fluctuations”. The Russian settlements had 492 residents, which is 24 more than six months ago.

But while the total number of people living on Svalbard has not changed significantly, the demographics have. There are fewer Norwegians and children, and more foreigners and elderly people than in the past years.

The percentage of foreign residents in the Norwegian settlements has risen from 14 percent in 2008 to 25 percent this year. People from Sweden and Thailand make up the largest groups of foreigners, with Swedes being the largest group of foreign men and Thais the largest group of foreign women.

The number of children under 10 in Longyearbyen declined from 288 in 2012 to 229 this year. There are now 149 residents aged 60 and older, compared to 121 four years ago.

Also within the group of Norwegian residents, there have been changes. From 2008 to 2016, the proportion of people with a background in southern Norway remained stable at 45 to 47 percent, while the proportion of people with a background in northern Norway fell from over 40 percent to under 30 percent.



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