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Country by country: Where do Sweden's immigrants come from?

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Country by country: Where do Sweden's immigrants come from?

Sweden's population has grown by almost one million in one decade, and for the first time since 2013 the biggest group of immigrants are Swedish-born people returning home.


Scroll down for the full list and see if you spot your country of birth.

A total of 11,955 people originally born in Sweden moved back to the country in 2019 after living abroad, according to fresh statistics from national number-crunchers Statistics Sweden.

However, the total number of returning Swedes shrank slightly (by seven percent or 850 people) compared to 2018, and its place at the top of the table is mainly due to fewer Syrians coming to Sweden.


For the past five years, Syria was the most common country of birth among new arrivals in Sweden, as people fled the war-torn region. But last year the number of Syrian immigrants (6,128 people) more than halved compared to 2018, and decreased by almost 90 percent on 2016.

Instead, Sweden, India and Afghanistan made up the top three countries of birth last year, with 7,389 Indian-born people moving to Sweden (an annual 1.1 percent increase) and 6,845 people from Afghanistan (a 15.4 percent decrease). 

Pakistan was the country of birth that grew the most, with 3,225 Pakistani-born people moving to Sweden last year – an increase of 24.7 percent.

In total, Sweden's population increased by 97,404 people last year (the smallest increase since 2013). Migration represents around 73 percent of the increase, according to Statistics Sweden, with the other factor being a larger number of births than deaths.

These statistics only show the country of birth of immigrants, so they do not track a person's full journey to Sweden. For example, 2,072 British-born people were registered as moving to Sweden in 2019, while a total of 4,067 people (regardless of nationality or country of birth) moved from the UK to Sweden in the same year.

A total of 115,805 people migrated to Sweden last year, 13 percent fewer than 2018.

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Meanwhile, emigration increased by 1.6 percent, with 47,718 people leaving Sweden. Swedes again made up the biggest emigrant group, with 16,028 emigrating – again a slight decrease on the previous year.

Polish-born people came second, with 2,057 emigrants, followed by India and Finland who both saw more than 2,000 people leaving Sweden last year, according to the report.

Statistics Sweden defines immigration as a long-lasting relocation to Sweden that has been registered in the Swedish population registry (folkbokföringen), and vice versa for emigration. Asylum seekers do not become part of the immigration statistics until they've received a residence permit and are in the population registry.

On New Year's Eve, a total of 10,327,589 people were living in Sweden.

If you are new to Sweden, welcome! We hope you'll like it here. The Local has plenty of guides, analysis and features aimed at newcomers and long-term residents, and if there's a topic you've got questions about or think we should cover, you're always welcome to get in touch. And for anyone wondering how they can become Swedish, or at least stay here forever, here's our guide.


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