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IN NUMBERS: Zurich's foreign population climbs to record high

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
IN NUMBERS: Zurich's foreign population climbs to record high
Zurich has gotten even more cosmopolitan in 2022. Photo by Henrique Ferreira on Unsplash

Switzerland’s largest city has experienced an unprecedented influx of foreigners in 2022, maintaining Zurich’s status as one the country’s most international urban centres.


Despite its status as Switzerland’s (and Europe’s) most expensive city, Zurich is a magnet for foreign nationals, according to a new analysis by the municipal statistical office, as reported in Neue Zuricher Zeitung (NZZ) on Sunday.

Never before have so many foreigners moved Zurich as in 2022: in all, 30,000 foreign nationals have settled in the city, beating its 2007 record of 28,500 new arrivals from abroad.

Ukrainian refugees (2,742) account for a fraction of the number, but most foreigners come from the EU — 4,363 from Germany, followed by Italians (2,233), Spaniards (1,216), and French (1,167).

Although fewer people came from countries like Poland, Austria, Romania, India, and China, their numbers have grown significantly in comparison with 2021.


Here are some interesting details about these new arrivals:
- Three-quarters of newly arrived foreigners are young —under the age of 40.

- Most of them are highly qualified and have a bachelor's degree or higher university education.

- Interestingly, for the German-speaking city, 12 percent of these arrivals said they mainly use English as their daily language.

Steady influx

While the record number of new immigrants has been reached this year, it has been growing steadily for decades and is now more than twice as high as it was 60 years ago.

There are, however, differences in demographics between 1962 and present time.

Then, Italians were the largest foreign group in Zurich, accounting for 44 percent of all foreigners, while today Germans constitute the largest demographic.

This corresponds to the national trend, as Italians and Germans still make up the largest proportion of foreigners in Switzerland as a whole.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: How Zurich's foreign population has more than doubled 

Why Zurich?

It is Switzerland’s economic powerhouse, with many international businesses located in its vicinity. 

Not only are employment opportunities abundant, but skilled professionals can also expect the highest salaries in the country: according to cantonal statistics, the average monthly salary in Zurich is 7,696 francs — almost 1,200 francs higher than the Swiss median wage.
READ MORE:  Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid 

Not the most international

While Zurich has registered the record number of foreign arrivals, it is not the most international city in Switzerland.

This title goes to Geneva and Lausanne, whose foreign population exceeds 40 percent, followed  by Basel, with 36.6 percent.

READ MORE: Why Basel is ranked 'Switzerland's best city for expats'


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