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Swiss abroad community ‘as large as canton Vaud’


Not just a drop in the barrel: many Swiss live abroad (Keystone)

Not just a drop in the barrel: many Swiss live abroad

(Keystone)

Taken together, the number of Swiss citizens living abroad is roughly equivalent to the population of Vaud, Switzerland’s third largest canton, say the latest statistics from the foreign ministry.

In all there were 732,183 Swiss registered at a Swiss representation abroad in 2013, reflecting an increase of 2.3% – which is above the average of the last five years.

Vaud, located in western Switzerland and described on the canton’s website as being “on the shores of Lake Geneva, tucked between the mountains of the Jura and the Alps”, counted 734,400 people at the end of 2012, according to the Federal Statistics Office.

In terms of expats, the largest Swiss communities on foreign soil are to be found in Europe, which is partly because of the free movement of persons accord between Switzerland and the European Union, a foreign ministry statement said on Thursday.

There are 452,965 Swiss people living in European countries other than Switzerland; about 97% in EU countries. Of these, 77.6% (339,912), live in Switzerland’s four large neighbouring countries: France (191,362), Germany (82,626), Italy (50,716) and Austria (15,208).

Outside Europe, the largest Swiss abroad communities continue to be found in the United States (77,520), Canada (39,253), Australia (24,007) and Israel (16,913) – all of which have seen their Swiss populations increase (Australia and the US by 1.59%, Canada by 0.75%, and Israel by 5.9%).

“There have been no changes at the other end of the statistical range, where the island states of São Tomé and Principe, Micronesia and Kiribati are home to one Swiss national each. This group has been joined by Western Sahara. Thus, there is hardly a country in the world in which at least one Swiss national is not living,” concluded the foreign ministry.

There were 155,523 Swiss abroad enrolled on a Swiss voting register (27.26% of the Swiss abroad eligible to vote), which is about the voting weight of a medium-sized canton with a population similar to Ticino, Thurgau or Valais. In 2014, around 10,200 Swiss citizens abroad will reach the age of majority and will be eligible to participate in votes.

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