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Sweden's population surges

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13:40 CEST+02:00
Sweden's population is growing faster than at any time during the last twelve years, according to figures released on Thursday. During the first three months of 2006 the number of people living here increased by 19,297.

The main reason is a surge in immigration due to the temporary asylum regulations introduced last autumn.

Not since the stream of refugees from the wartorn Balkans in 1994 has Sweden's population increased so rapidly, says Statistics Sweden.

The temporary asylum law was in force from November 15th to March 31st. During that period some 10,916 people were given permanent residence permits, according to the Swedish Migration Board.

Statistics Sweden calculated that immigration increased by almost 12,000 people, or 85%, compared with the first quarter last year. Most people came from Iraq, Somalia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Bosnia Herzegovinia.

Other factors behind the unusually high increase in the population are a 6% decline in emigration, a 6% increase in births and a 7% fall in deaths.

"There's nothing strange about the number of deaths varying so much," said statistician Annika Klintefelt at Statistics Sweden to TT.

"During this period last year influenza was rife and that affects the death rate among the elderly. This year we've hardly had any flu."

On March 31st Sweden's population stood at 9,067,049.

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