More people want to become Swedes

Increasing numbers of people are taking Swedish citizenship, newly released statistics show, with Iraqis leading the pack but Americans showing surprising enthusiasm for becoming Swedes.

Last year, 31,523 people became Swedish citizens, either giving up their former nationality or becoming dual citizens. The figure was more than 9,000 higher than that for 2005, according to preliminary statistics from the Swedish Migration Board.

A total of 35,651 people applied during 2006 to become naturalized Swedes. This compares to a figure of 27,643 the previous year. Of those who applied, 86 percent were granted citizenship, compared to 81 percent in 2005.

Of those who were granted citizenship, the largest national group was Iraqis, 7,400 of whom got Swedish passports. Some 2,056 Iranians, 2,049 people from Serbian and Montenegro and 2,059 Turks had their applications approved.

From European Union countries, the largest source of new Swedes was Poland, with 779 Poles granted Swedish passports. Some 163 Britons and 81 French people also became Swedes, as did 387 Americans.

The most common reason for refusing people citizenship was that the person had misbehaved, with 1,796 people denied passports last year because they has committed crimes or not paid taxes or fines.

A further 954 people were refused because their identity was unclear. Some 22 people were refused for both reasons. In all, 4,466 applications were refused.