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Number of foreign residents continues to rise

The resident foreign population in Switzerland increased by 38,700 or 2.2 per cent last year and now stands at 1,802,300, according to figures released on Thursday.

The Federal Statistics Office said almost two-thirds were from member countries of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association.

Italians form the largest group of foreigners (293,000 people), followed by Germans (265,000). A statement said the number of people from countries of the former Yugoslavia continued to fall and now accounted for 17.8 per cent of the total.

More than a fifth (20.7 per cent) of the total were born in Switzerland and belong to the second and third generation of foreigners in the country.

In 2009, 43,400 people obtained Swiss nationality, a figure which was down by 2.1 per cent on the previous year.

While the figure for those obtaining Swiss citizenship through naturalisation is low compared with other European countries, it is estimated that despite strict conditions 858,000 foreigners would satisfy requirements to obtain citizenship.

Switzerland has a high foreign population compared with the total number of people living in the country (22 per cent). In Europe, only Luxembourg and Liechtenstein have higher percentages.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR