Swiss population continues rapid growth
Switzerland's population hit eight million over the summer (Keystone)
Switzerland’s population jumped by nearly 85,000 people in 2011, according to the Federal Statistics Office, with the majority of cantons experiencing population growth. The highest growth rates were seen in Fribourg, Vaud and Zug.
Figures released on Thursday showed a population increase of 1.1 per cent which is comparable to growth experienced in 2007 and 2009, the Statistics Office said.
One in eight people live in the largest five Swiss cities of Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Lausanne and Bern, while nearly half of the population resides in a city with more than 10,000 inhabitants. Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city at 377,000 people, and the tiny village of Corippo in canton Ticino, population 12, is the country’s smallest.
The new population numbers include Swiss citizens and foreigners, with the exception of those with short-term residence permits and those who have been seeking asylum in Switzerland for less than one year. The foreign population rose by nearly 50,000 people to 1.815 million, making up 22.8 per cent of the total Swiss population.
Most of the foreign population – 63.3 per cent - comes from eurozone states. The most-represented nationalities are Italians at nearly 16 per cent, Germans at 15.3 per cent, Portuguese at 12.3 per cent and Serbians at 5.8 per cent.
Switzerland’s total population at the end of 2011 was 7,954,700. On August 2 the Statistics Office announced the country would surpass eight million inhabitants sometime in the summer of 2012.
Switzerland’s population has more than tripled since 1860, when it stood at 2.5 million. The strongest period of growth occurred between 1950 and 1970, when the population grew by an average 1.4 per cent every year. That rate slowed dramatically between 1970 and 1980 to 0.15 per cent because of immigration restrictions and the economic crisis in the mid-1970s.
Since 2000, Swiss population growth has been around 0.9 per cent annually but has stood at one per cent or higher since 2007.