Arctic areas are inhabited approximately by four million people according to the AHDR (Arctic Human Development Report) definition of the Arctic. The settlement area is divided between eight Arctic countries; Canada, United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark. The circumpolar region is extremely sparsely populated. Using more broad definition, according to the University of the Arctic Atlas, there are approximately 13.1 million people living in the area of the circumpolar North, see the map of population centres in the circumpolar Arctic.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the number of Arctic people started to grow rapidly because of improved health care for indigenous populations and the discovery of vast natural resources located in North which led to a large influx of immigrants. Recently population growth in the Arctic has slowed down in general and in some cases (e.g. Russian North) the total population has been even declining. It is estimated that two thirds of the total population lives in relatively large settlements. The settlement of the indigenous peoples living in circumpolar countries is characterized by small, widely scattered communities.