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Demography Almost 40% of Swiss residents have a migration background

Party in Grottes district of Geneva

A street party on June 3 in the Grottes district of Geneva, where over 60% of residents have a migration background


The percentage of people in Switzerland who have foreign roots increased slightly last year to 37.2% – much lower than annual increases over the past five years. 

In 2017, 2.6 million of the 7.1 million permanent residents aged 15 and over had a migration background, the Federal Statistical Office saidexternal link. This represented a 0.4% annual increase on 2016, which is lower than in previous years. 

The term “population with a migration background”, as defined by the statistical office, refers to anyone – foreign nationals, naturalised Swiss citizens, as well as Swiss citizens at birth – whose parents were both born abroad. 

Between 2013 and 2016, the number of Swiss residents with a migration background increased annually by between 65,000 and 74,000, compared with 45,000 in 2017. During the same period, the population without a migration background grew by 0.5%. 

+ Almost one in five Swiss residents has dual nationality

According to the statistical office, over a third of people with a migration background hold Swiss nationality. The other nationalities that are best represented are Italian (for men) and German (for women). Then come nationals of Portugal, France, Kosovo, Spain, Turkey, Serbia and Macedonia. 

Residents with a migration background feature heavily in the 25-50 age group, with an average age of 44. They live mostly in cantons Geneva (60%+ of residents), Ticino, Basel City, Vaud, Schaffhausen and Zurich. 

In cantons Obwalden, Nidwalden, Appenzell Inner Rhodes and Uri, 80% of residents have no migration background. 

Citizenship Geneva-based foreigners rush to meet Swiss passport deadline

Some 5,800 foreigners living in Geneva were granted Swiss citizenship in 2017 – a big jump from 2016, and in line with recent national increases.

This content was published on March 6, 2018 3:28 PM

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