Memory of the World

Iceland - 1703 Census of Iceland

The 1703 census is the first comprehensive census taken in Iceland and the oldest extant nominal census in the world that includes every member of a country's population, with name, age and social status. The census is a milestone in the history of population studies. It was carried out in 1702-1703 by Árni Magnússon and Páll Vídalín, who were specially commissioned by the Danish king to assess the conditions in Iceland. Among the tasks to be carried out was to conduct a census of all the inhabitants of Iceland. The census was submitted to Árni Magnússon and Páll Vídalín at a meeting of Althingi (the parliament) in July 1703. According to the census the total population of Iceland amounted to 50,366 inhabitants in 1703.

Photos: © The National Archives of Iceland

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