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Where do Switzerland’s foreigners all live?

A new study shows that, unsurprisingly, the largest number of foreigners are living in big Swiss cities and areas surrounding urban centres.

Where do Switzerland’s foreigners all live?
A lot of foreigners live in Lausanne and surrounding areas. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Two researchers from the University of Geneva, who conducted the study, found “a strong foreign presence” in and around large cities, which are close to economic centres and job opportunities — such as the shores of Lake Geneva or Lake Zurich. 

The highest concentration of foreigners (62.4 percent) can be found in the Crissier suburb of Lausanne, according to the study.

The Lausanne area and nearby towns are home to several big international companies where many expats work — Philip Morris International, Nestlé, Medtronic, and Federal Polytechnic Institute (EPFL), among them.

The lowest number of foreign nationals, on the other hand, is in Röthenbach, located in the Bernese Emmental region, where there are 37 foreigners among 1,172 residents.

The distribution of different nationalities across Switzerland varies widely and in many cases is language and geography-based. For instance, Germans, French, and Italians live mostly in their respective linguistic regions.

The Portuguese are mainly in French-speaking cantons and the Turks in the German-speaking regions.

READ MORE: Swiss history: The story of Switzerland’s first popular vote on foreign migrants

As for North Americans, the study shows that more than half live in the three cantons: Zurich, Vaud and Geneva, where the most international environment and professional opportunities can be found.

Researchers also reported that among the foreign population, the Portuguese and Turks are usually concentrated in neighbourhoods with relatively cheap housing, regardless of the canton.

“One can wonder about the existence of network effects, which would push the new members to establish themselves in the immediate entourage of the diaspora”, the study’s authors noted.

Some 2,125,410 foreign nationals were resident in Switzerland at the end of March 2020, including 1,452 421 from the EU, as well as from Norway, Iceland, and the United Kingdom. 

The highest number of foreigners come from Italy (15.3 percent), Germany (14.6 percent), Portugal (12 percent), France (6.7 percent), Kosovo (5,4 percent), and Spain (4 percent).
 

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TRAVEL

What do Switzerland’s foreigners miss most during the pandemic?

New survey reveals which activities members of the international community are looking forward to most when life in Switzerland gets back to normal.

What do Switzerland’s foreigners miss most during the pandemic?
Expats miss travel most of all. Photo by NA FASSBENDER / AFP

Many people experience the so-called “pandemic blues” and foreigners in Switzerland are no different.

In fact, their feelings are often exacerbated by the isolation from their home countries. This is evident from a new survey, carried out by Glocals expat group. 

“On our social network, we perceived a feeling of frustration”, in particular concerning inability to see families, said Nir Ofek, one of the managers of Glocals.

“In this, their needs undoubtedly differ from those of the local population”.

Not surprisingly, the desire to resume travelling is the number one wish of 69 percent of respondents.

“Travel is not only linked to family contacts, but it also symbolises freedom”, Ofek said.

And there is also likely to be a rush on restaurants and bars, the survey found.

Some 43 percent of those surveyed said they will eat out the first week restaurants reopen, while 35 percent plan to do so in the first month.

Of those, 68 percent believe they will be safe there, even indoors, if social distances are maintained.

Overall, foreign respondents are not too optimistic that the pandemic will develop favourably. Sixty-three percent believe that new shutdowns will happen in the future. And 60 percent doubt that Switzerland will be able to vaccinate the majority of the adult population by the end of the summer.

Their outlook on the Swiss management of the pandemic is mixed. Only quarter of those polled rate it positively, a fifth find it poor, while more than half (52 percent) answer “so-so”.

Respondents also shared some of their experiences of living in Switzerland during the pandemic.

On a personal level, vast majority (86 percent) said they have missed social contact, experienced stress (66 percent) and decline in mental (61 percent) or physical (43 percent) health.

A fifth faced concerns about professional stability.

One person said that after she lost her job, “my residence permit expired and I had to leave Switzerland where I had lived for seven years and which had become my home.”

READ MORE: How do the Swiss really feel about foreigners?

What do you miss most about normal life – and what are you looking forward to the most when things return to normal. Get in touch at [email protected]

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