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Who are the two million foreigners living in Switzerland?


By Duc-Quang Nguyen



The issue of immigration regularly features at the ballot box in Switzerland. On February 28 voters will decide whether to back a rightwing initiative to enforce the deportation of convicted foreigners. Who are the foreign residents living in the small alpine nation?

Switzerland has one of the highest percentages of foreign residents in the world (24.3% in 2014). Only a few countries like Luxembourg or the Gulf States have more.

The graphic below gives a breakdown by nationality. Over 80% of foreigners living in Switzerland come from Europe. The citizens of Germany, Italy, Portugal and France together make up almost half of all foreign residents.

Switzerland is a popular destination for immigrants. In 2013, there were 20 new arrivals per 1,000 inhabitants, putting Switzerland far ahead of France (5.1 new foreign arrivals), Germany (8.4), Britain (8.2) or Spain (6).

As Swiss nationality is not gained automatically, many children born to foreigners living in Switzerland keep their parents' nationality. According to the Federal Statistical Office, as of 2014, a total of 388,700 foreign nationals resident in Switzerland were born here. They make up one fifth of the so-called foreigners.

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