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Record immigration to Sweden in 2006

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10:57 CET+01:00
Immigration to Sweden in 2006 reached its highest level since records began. At the same time emigration also soared to a level not seen in over 100 years, according to official figures published by Statistics Sweden.

Swedish citizenship was granted to more people than ever before in 2006, a year in which the country's population increased by 65,505. The total population recorded on 31st December was 9,113,257.

Immigration last year increased by 47 percent compared to 2005, reaching a total of 95,750 people. This constituted just over 12,000 more immigrants than the previous record year of 1994, when Sweden took in large numbers of refugees fleeing the war in Yugoslavia.

Last year's increase can primarily be explained by temporary asylum legislation, which gave asylum seekers the right to have their cases reassessed. The legislation covered the period from 15th November 2005 to 31st March 2006 but a backlog meant that work continued throughout 2006.

As in previous years, the largest single immigrant group consisted of returning Swedish citizens, who accounted for 16 percent of total immigration.

Iraqi citizens made up 11 percent of the total figure. Immigration from the troubled middle eastern country was a full 269 percent higher than in 2005.

Poland and Denmark were next on the list, with immigration from these countries also higher than the previous year.

Another record was also broken in 2006 when 51,239 people had their Swedish citizenship applications approved. The largest increase in terms of numbers occurred among Iraqi citizens, 12,895 of whom were granted Swedish citizenship.

At the same time as immigration to Sweden increased, emigration out of the country also rose. During 2006, 44 908 people emigrated, an increase of 18 percent compared to the previous year.

The last time a higher number of people emigrated from Sweden was in 1892, 45,504 people packed their bags and left the country. As in 2005, the majority of those leaving were Swedish citizens followed by Finns, Danes and Norwegians.

Number of immigrants by country of citizenship 2006 (Selected countries)

Afghanistan 1669

Australia 306

Brazil 402

France 756

Germany 2883

India 1024

Iran 2008

Iraq 10850

Ireland 196

New Zealand 55

Russian Fed. 1393

Somalia 2974

South Africa 91

UK 1537

USA 901

Source: Statistics Sweden

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