Coastal regions – population statistics


This article presents recent statistics on the population of the coastal regions of the European Union (EU). Among the 1 294 NUTS 3 regions included in the NUTS 2010 classification, 439 were defined as coastal regions. In 2011, 40.8 % of the EU-27 population lived in coastal regions which covered 40.0 % of EU-27 territory. The geo-spatial data analysis below highlights the disparities in population distribution patterns along the coastline.

Main statistical findings

In the EU, a coastal region is defined as a NUTS 3 region with either a sea border or without a coastline but where more than half of the population lives within 50 kilometres (km) of the sea. Coastal regions are distributed along oceans and seas (also called sea basins) bordering the EU coastline, i.e. the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the North East Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and outermost regions, as Map 1 shows.

The inputs used for defining a region as coastal or non-coastal are the NUTS classification and the population grid (GEOSTAT). Both of these inputs have been updated. NUTS 2010 replaces NUTS 2006 and the 2006 population grid replaces the 2001 population grid. In order to take these changes into account, the selection of coastal regions in the EU has been updated. The definition of a coastal region has not changed thus any differences are due to the new version of the NUTS classification and the new population grid used. Moreover, the geographical coverage of the definition of coastal regions has been extended to EFTA and candidate countries, specifically the level 3 statistical regions of these countries, as shown in Map 1.

The 439 coastal regions of the EU are located in the 22 Member States with a coastline. All NUTS 3 regions in the island countries of Cyprus, Malta and Iceland are coastal, as are all regions in Denmark; in Estonia and Ireland all regions except one are coastal regions. Among the 439 European coastal regions, 375 regions have a sea border as shown in Table 1.

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