Immigrant population grows in Switzerland

The Swiss flag offers protection to many foreigners Keystone Archive

Immigrants and their families who moved to Switzerland in the last 50 years, now make up a fourth of the overall Swiss population.

This content was published on December 18, 2001 - 08:43

The Swiss Federal Office of Statistics on Tuesday released new figures showing that although Europeans represent the largest number of newcomers, the number of immigrants from non-European countries is rising.

Based on a count conducted in 2000, the majority of recent immigrants have come from Italy, the former Yugoslavia, Portugal, Spain and Turkey, and are principally manual workers who came to Switzerland in search of a better life.

In 2000, 20.9 per cent of the population was foreign, one of the highest percentages in Europe. Of these, nearly one quarter were born in Switzerland, and were the children and grandchildren of immigrants.

The second largest group were foreigners born outside Switzerland who have lived in the country for at least 15 years. 16.5 per cent of foreigners were long-term residents of more than 30 years.

Europeans a majority

Europeans account for the majority of the foreign population in Switzerland. Italians form the largest expatriate community at 326 000, followed by 210,000 Yugoslavians, most of whom came from Kosovo.

The number of people from non-European countries living in Switzerland has been increasing over the years, reaching a peak of more than 200 000 in 2000, representing 13.1 per cent of the total number of foreigners.

Of this group, the largest community is made up of Sri-Lankans at 33 000 people, followed by Americans (14 000), Brazilians (8400), Indians (6000), Moroccans (5800), Somalians (5700), Chinese (5600), Thais (5000), Iraqis (4700) and Iranians (4100).


In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.