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Switzerland home to more native English speakers than ever before

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 28 Feb, 2020 Updated Fri 28 Feb 2020 14:07 CEST
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The number of foreign-language Swiss residents is on the increase, new data reveals.

Between 1970 and 2018, the share of people in Switzerland who speak a non-national language (German, French, Italian, or Romansch) increased sharply from 4 percent to 23 percent, according to data published by Federal Statistical Office (FSO)  on Thursday.

Among people whose mother tongue is not one of Switzerland’s national languages, English speakers make up the biggest share, at nearly 6 percent of the population.

FSO doesn’t specify where these English speakers come from, but about 43,000 British citizens currently live in Switzerland.

According to stats from Switzerland's Federal Statistics Office there are also around 20,000 US citizens in the country, 13,000 Indians, over 3,000 Australians and 7,000 Canadians.

Portuguese native speakers are in the second place (3.6 percent), followed by Albanians (3.1 percent), as well as Spanish, Serbians, and Croatians (2.3 percent).

The number of foreign language speakers has gone up in the past 50 years due to an influx of immigrants who are living in Switzerland on permanent basis.

Many came in the last two decades, after the government signed a treaty with Brussels allowing people from the EU countries to work in Switzerland.

Foreigners constitute nearly a quarter of Swiss population, or 2,1 million out of the total 8.5 million residents.

READ MORE: In Numbers - What do we know about Switzerland's foreign residents?

Germans, French and Italians make up the largest percentage of foreign population, but they are not counted in the FSO statistics as they speak one of Switzerland’s national languages.

The data also shows that the distribution of national languages ​​has changed over the past four decades. The shares of German, Italian and Romansh as the main language(s) has fallen, while the number of French and non-national languages ​​has increased.



The Local 2020/02/28 14:07

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