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A Millennium of Misery: The Demography of the Icelanders

Richard F. Tomasson
Population Studies
Vol. 31, No. 3 (Nov., 1977), pp. 405-427
DOI: 10.2307/2173366
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2173366
Page Count: 23
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A Millennium of Misery: The Demography of the Icelanders
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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to give a summary account of eleven centuries of Icelandic population development. Iceland represents the most extreme inhospitable environment in which a European people has been able to survive and maintain its culture; none has been so persistently ravaged by natural calamities. The first modern national census in the world was taken in Iceland in 1703, and is a relatively untapped source of data on a population of almost three centuries ago. Of particular note in the demographic history of Iceland is the high incidence of cohabitation and de jure illegitimacy. Iceland is now demographically similar to the other Scandinavian countries except in her relatively high fertility and very high rate of illegitimacy.

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