StartupBlink Blog

In this year’s Global Startup Ecosystem Index Report, StartupBlink has included a ranking for top island cities in addition to the ranking of 100 countries and 1000 cities for 2021.

In this ranking, we celebrate the top 15 island cities ranking in the global top 1000, from islands that have a population of under 1 million. Check out the top ranked island cities in the table below:

In developing startup ecosystems, islands often face unique challenges!

Historically, there can be an overreliance on the tourism sector, bringing only seasonal and temporary opportunities for work, along with the threat of long-term population loss and the brain drain of young talent. The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown overreliance on tourism as a source of economic activity can cause major challenges.

At the same time, Islands have unique advantages for innovation, often boasting stronger community bonds, a culture of self-reliance, and a unique opportunity to test ideas at a small scale before taking them out to the wider world.

In first position, we have the city of Reykjavik in Iceland, which, despite having a population of just over 120,000, ranks 221st globally and has led its country to 55th in the national rankings.

Three of the top 15 island cities are Spanish, including Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the 2nd highest ranked Island at 225th globally. Following closely behind is its neighbour and fellow Canary Island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Honolulu, from the island of Oahu, Hawaii (United States) ranks 4th among island cities and 259th worldwide, followed by the 5th ranked island city and first time entrant into the global top 1000, Saint Helier, Jersey, at 365th. Valletta, from the growing Malta national ecosystem, ranks 6th among island cities and 372nd worldwide. Saint Helier and Valletta are the highest ranked island cities with populations lower than 100,000.

Cyprus dominates the island list claiming 4 of the 15 ranked cities, the highest of which is its capital city of Nicosia, ranked 414th globally and 7th on this list.

Ranked 12th among island cities, the startup ecosystem of Praia from the island Santiago of Cape Verde is the highest ranked island city in the Middle East & Africa region.

We should also note that the ecosystem of Funchal from the island of Madeira, ranked 13th, has had a successful promotion campaign to attract digital nomads and entrepreneurs, even in the midst of a pandemic. More islands should follow this active approach. 

Explore the full list of Island ecosystems, using the StartupBlink Pro Data.