A record 2,310 residents were living in Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund as of July 1, an increase of 96 since the beginning of the year, according to Statistics Norway. Foreigners accounted for 70 percent of the increase and now represent 32 percent of the population – and in some age groups they now outnumber Norwegians.
The near total loss of coal mining during the past few years and explosive growth of tourism is primarily responsible for a drastic and ongoing shift in the population’s makeup. More then 40 percent of people ages 20 to 34 are foreigners, and they are a majority among women ages 25 to 29 and men ages 30 to 34.
“When Statistics Norway produced population statistics for Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund, which included foreigners for the first time in 2009, 14 percent had backgrounds from abroad,” the agency noted in a press release Thursday.
The total number of foreigners was 290 in 2009, compared to 720 this year, according to the statement.
There has been an equally drastic drop in the number of residents from northern Norway during that time. They represented 41 percent in 2009, compared to 26 percent now, with the current total of 543 a drop of more than 300 from the earlier period.
The number of residents from southern Norway has increased from 950 in 2009 to 1,040 this year.
There are residents from 53 different countries in the two settlements, including 190 from the Nordic region except Norway, 260 from Europe, seven from Africa, 209 from Asia, and 58 from the Americas and Oceania. The largest groups by nationality come from Thailand, followed by Sweden and the Philippines.
The number of children and adolescents (under 20 years) has fallen from 450 to 415 in the last six months. Meanwhile, was an increase of 160 between the ages of 20 to 44 and an increase of 75 more among those 45 to 66.