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  • Notes from the Federal Palace

Stronger growth in the Swiss community abroad


The 2016 statistics on the Swiss Abroad published by the FDFA in February showed 774,923 Swiss citizens were registered with the representations abroad. The Swiss community abroad boasted 21,784 more people last year, which equates to a 2.9 % increase. This percentage rate is above the constant growth of 2 % in recent years. In other words, the growth of the “Fifth Switzerland” has accelerated.

The Swiss community in every country has its own history and dynamism. In regional terms, Asia achieved the highest percentage growth at 4.3 %, as was also previously the case in recent years. A slightly above-average rise of 3.1 % was recorded for the Swiss communities in Europe. The growth rates in Africa, the Americas and Oceania were lower or practically the same as in the previous years, ranging from 2.1 % to 2.5 %.

However, the growth rate trend varies significantly within regions in some cases. It is therefore worth taking a closer look at the differences from one country to another. In Europe, the region favoured by two thirds of all Swiss Abroad, the situation is as follows: growth of 8.7 % in Portugal, 8.6 % in Turkey, 4.6 % in the United Kingdom, 3.8 % in Germany, 2.5 % in France (the largest community of Swiss abroad in the world) and 1.8 % in Italy. Outside Europe the Swiss communities in the following countries recorded significant growth rates: growth of 8.5 % in the United Arab Emirates, 6.6 % in both Morocco and Lebanon, 5.1 % in Tunisia, 3.9 % in Israel as well as Japan, and 3.6 % in Mexico. In a notable number of countries, the figures remained at the previous year’s level, such as in New Zealand, China, India, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil. However, there are also countries where the already tiny Swiss communities declined owing to war, instability or natural disasters, etc.

Just under three out of four Swiss Abroad hold at least one other passport in addition to their Swiss one because dual citizenship has been accepted by an increasing number of countries in recent decades. The statistics on the Swiss Abroad nevertheless indicate a slight decline of – 0.1 % in this area, with the figure standing at 73.5 %. In view of the increased growth in the Swiss community abroad, this fact indicates that more Swiss are emigrating abroad than returning to Switzerland. The Federal Statistical Office’s statistics on emigration, which are published at the end of August, will provide a more accurate picture.

The statistics on the Swiss Abroad on the FDFA’s website: > Living abroad > Publications and statistics > Statistics

Readers can find out how many Swiss are living in their country of residence from the FDFA’s statistics on the Swiss Abroad. They can also discover how many of their compatriots have left Switzerland or returned home. Since 2011, the Federal Statistical Office’s website has contained detailed information on emigration and return migration by destination country and country of origin broken down into nationality and other demographic variables. Users can obtain the figures using interactive “data cubes” which enable them to create their own tables in line with individual requirements and to save them in different formats.