Immigration For Members

Nearly 3 million people in Switzerland have foreign roots

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Nearly 3 million people in Switzerland have foreign roots
The number of residents with foreign roots is record high. Image by Brian Merrill from Pixabay

For the first time, the share of Switzerland’s population with a migration background has reached 40 percent.


The year 2022 was pivotal for Switzerland in terms of immigration: a total of 114,393 people arrived from EU and EFTA countries – nearly 20,000 more than in 2021.
In all, at the end of December 2022, 2,241,854 foreign nationals resided in Switzerland on a permanent basis, according to data from the State Secretariat for Migration. 
Not only has this recent influx of immigrants caused Switzerland’s population to grow to 9 million people this year — from 8 million only a decade ago — but it also increased the proportion of people with foreign backgrounds now living in the country. 

Record-breaking highs

According to figures released by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the share of the permanent residents aged 15 or over that have a foreign background has reached 40 percent — 2,951 million people — the highest proportion ever. 

Among this group, nearly 80 percent (over 2.3 million people) were born abroad and belong to the first generation.

The remaining 20 percent (609,000 residents) were born in Switzerland to foreign parents and therefore are part of the second generation.

After Swiss nationality (38 percent) — that is, foreigners naturalised in Switzerland — Italians and Germans constitute the largest group, with 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

READ ALSO: Just how diverse is the Swiss population? 


In which Swiss cantons do most of these people live?

The largest proportion of the nearly 3 million people who have a migration background (whether they were born in Switzerland or abroad) are living in Geneva (64.4 percent).

Next is Basel-City (53.5 percent), followed by Vaud (52.3 percent), Ticino (50.1 percent), and Zurich (45.7 percent).

However, purely in numbers rather than percentages, Zurich has the most people with foreign roots — 606,000 — because it has the largest population overall.

In Vaud, that number is 359,000; in Geneva 264,000; in Ticino 153,000; and in Basel-City, 90,000.

This FSO map shows the concentration of residents with migration background by canton.
READ ALSO: What would happen to Switzerland if immigration was restricted? 


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