Here's where Sweden's foreigners come from

The Local Sweden
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Here's where Sweden's foreigners come from
Sweden's foreign-born population is growing. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Where do Sweden's foreign-born residents come from? The refugee crisis makes it easy to presume that most who move to the Scandinavian country travel far and wide to do so, but new statistics show that close neighbours play a bigger part.


Statistics Sweden’s (Statistiska Centralbyrån) latest numbers reveal that as of 2015, Sweden’s biggest foreign-born community hails from the far-off land of... Finland, with 156,046 Finns now residing across the border.

The two countries have a relationship dating back hundreds of years, and when the stats are broken down by gender, the Swedish-Finnish link is shown to persist particularly strongly among women.

Over eleven percent (11.1) of the foreign-born women in Sweden were born in Finland, amounting to 94,077 people and the biggest group by a clear distance.

The second-largest group of women came from significantly further away (Iraq, 7.2 percent), but the third were also near neighbours, with Poles making up 5.5 percent.

A different group is dominant among men however, with Iraq providing the largest proportion of foreign-born males in Sweden (8.6 percent) at 70,815 people in total. The second-largest group was once again the Finns (7.5 percent), followed by Syrians in third (6.8 percent).

Once a wider net is cast and continents are taken into consideration geographical proximity and free movement in the EU appear to play a big part. Europeans make up almost half (49 percent) of the foreign-born people living in Sweden, significantly more than the second-largest group by continent, which is Asians (34 percent). The third largest group by continent is Africa at 11 percent.

Here's a list of the top-15 birth countries among foreign-born residents, according to Statistics Sweden.


Statistics Sweden’s figures say that the foreign-born population in Sweden grew by 72,713 in 2015 to a total of 1.7 million people. Since 2000 it has increased by a whopping 67 percent, proof of how much more diverse Sweden has become in recent years. 

The Swedish population currently hovers around the 9,906,331 mark, and is on course to hit 10 million by 2017. 


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