The number of foreigners living in Switzerland has gone past two million for the very first time, according to the latest population figures.
In 2015 there were 2,048,700 foreign nationals in the country, meaning they now account for 24.6% of the permanent resident population, the Federal Statistical Office said on Friday.external link The figure for 2014 was 1,998,500.
Almost 400,000 of foreigners were born in Switzerland, with the rest immigrating from abroad.
Of those foreigners born abroad, 44% have lived in Switzerland for at least ten years. The largest nationality groups were Italians, Germany, Portuguese, French and Kosovars, who between them accounted for 54% of foreigners permanently resident in Switzerland.
Canton Geneva had the highest number of foreigners (41%), followed by Basel City (35%) and Vaud (34%). The central Swiss cantons of Obwalden, Nidwalden, Uri and Appenzell Inner Rhodes all have less than 15%, as does the Jura.
In 2015 2.1% resident foreigners gained Swiss citizenship, with the number of those gaining citizenship up by almost 24% on 2014. In seven cantons the citizenship rate was over the average with - perhaps unsurprisingly - Geneva leading the way at 3.6%, followed by Zurich (2.7%) and then Valais (2.5%). The lowest number was found in canton Glarus at 0.9%.
Overall, Switzerland's population increased by 1.1% in 2015, which is less sharply than in the previous two years (1.3% in 2013, 1.2% in 2014). It now stands at 8,327,100 people.
“The change was brought about by the interplay of births, deaths, immigrations and emigrations,” the statistical office said in a statement.
An increase in population was seen in all cantons but Uri.
Migration was a factor in the overall population growth, but the difference in the rate of births and deaths also played a role. Switzerland had more births (86,600) than deaths (67,600) in 2015.
“This makes Switzerland different to many countries in the European Union: Germany, Greece, Italy and Portugal all record more deaths than births,” said the statement.
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