Where in Switzerland do newcomers settle?


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The settlement of migrants arriving in Switzerland is not distributed evenly across all cantons or municipalities. The immigration rate for the whole of Switzerland in 2015 was 18.5 arrivals per 1,000 inhabitants.

In 2015, the most preferred cantons were Geneva and Basel-Stadt (49 and 31 arrivals respectively per 1,000 inhabitants). Schwyz, Nidwalden and Jura attracted the fewest migrants, at rates of fewer than ten arrivals per 1,000 inhabitants.

In terms of municipalities, the most preferred locations in 2015 were Leysin (VD) and Randogne (VS), with 191 and 151 arrivals respectively per 1,000 inhabitants. Other municipalities with more than 100 arrivals per 1,000 inhabitants were Hospental (UR) and Flühli (LU). Geneva is the highest-ranking large city, with a rate of 68 arrivals per 1,000 inhabitants. Among medium-sized or large municipalities (at least 2,000 inhabitants), the lowest immigration rates are found in Thierachern (BE, 0.4 per 1,000) and Felsberg (GR, 1.2 per 1,000). Of cities with a permanent population of more than 10,000 inhabitants, the rate is lowest in Steffisburg (BE, five per 1,000).

In some cases, the migrants’ nationality of origin plays a part in their decision to settle in a particular region of Switzerland. As one would expect, French migrants are more likely to settle in French-speaking Switzerland (Romandy), and Germans in the German-speaking cantons. By contrast, the settlement of migrants from Italy, Portugal or Spain, for example, is spread evenly across the various Swiss regions.


Permanent resident population: The population of Swiss and foreign nationals holding a residence permit with a duration of more than twelve months. Since 2011, the term “permanent resident population” has also included foreign nationals holding an F or N permit who have been in Switzerland for twelve months or more.

Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office, STATPOP statistics (2010–2015)

Note on the methodology: Arrival rates are calculated by dividing the number of foreign nationals migrating to Switzerland with a residence permit valid for one year or more by the average permanent resident population of the municipality or canton. The average population is obtained by taking the average of the population at the beginning and end of the period. Rates are given as the number per 1,000.

To access complete data files (Excel), please contact info@nccr-onthemove.ch.