Statistics Iceland have added a new level to the hierarchical Regional Classification. The new step consists of 206 minor statistical output areas (MSOA), having a population between 900 and 3,500. The new addition is implemented in preparation for the 2021 Census of the Population and Housing. In implementing the new classification unit, Statistics Iceland is able for the first time to publish small area statistics for the whole country. The new MSOA were developed in cooperation with the Icelandic Regional Development Institution (IRDI) and sponsored by the European Commission.

The Icelandic Regional Classification is a hierarchical system in which the country of Iceland is classified into five levels of statistical regions. The following levels have now been implemented:

  1. Iceland (NUTS 1 and NUTS 2).
  2. The Capital area and outside the Capital area, 2 regions (NUTS 3).
  3. Statistical regions, 4 regions (Reykjavik, Reykjavik Surrounding Region, South Region and North Region).
  4. Statistical output areas (SOA), 42 areas (13 in Reykjavik, 11 in Reykjavik Surrounding Region, and 9 in North and South Regions each).
  5. Minor statistical output areas (MSOA), 206 areas (further dividing the SOA).

The intention for the future is to maintain the population limits for the MSOA, while keeping further adjustments to a bare minimum. Areas that exceed the 3,500 inhabitant limit will be split up and areas that fall below the 900 inhabitants mark will be merged with neighbouring areas.

In developing the new Minor Statistical Output Areas, Statistics Iceland relied on the expert judgement available within the institution and the IRDI for the less populous regions, with the SOAs in the densly populated areas partitioned using a partitioning algorithm developed by Statistics Iceland. For that work Statistics Iceland was the beneficiary of geographical data from Míla ehf that served as the building blocks for the MSOA.

In developing the MSOA the goal was to follow main landscape features as well as creating areas that were compact while maximising differences between areas and minimising variance within areas with regard to type of dwellings.

A separate version of the MSOA has been developed in order to apply the classification to the data of the 2011 Census of the Population and Housing. The MSOA are mostly the same for both versions, with the exception that 23 small areas in the 2021 version had to be merged with adjacent areas in order to comply with the 900 inhabitant minimum requirement. Most of the main topics of the 2011 Census can now be view for the 183 MSOA.

In order to prepare for the publication of the geographical data Statistics Iceland has been assisted by the National Land Survey of Iceland.

The project has been partially supported by a grant from the European Commission (Grant no. 831732).

Icelandic Regional Classification for the 2021 Census — Working paper

About the data
The geographical data and statistical atlases are distributed in line with INSPIRE regulation, i.e. with open standards and metadata, as well as download and viewing services for further use.

Census 2011
Minor statistical output areas 2021

Further information
Minor statistical output areas for the Icelandic Census 2021 of the Population and Housing
Minor statistical output areas adapted to the Icelandic Census 2011 of the Population and Housing with 34 statistical atlases
The LMI wms service: