Immigration boosts population growth
The number of foreigners in Switzerland grew by 1.6 per cent last year to account for 20.2 per cent of the population.
The total population now stands at 7.42 million, with Italians making up the largest foreign community.
The number of foreign residents in Switzerland rose by 54,200 people in 2004, according to official figures published on Monday.
The Germans were the fastest growing foreign community, with their numbers increasing by 11,228 to 114,864.
But the Italians remained the largest non-Swiss group, accounting for 20.1 per cent of resident foreigners, ahead of people from Serbia and Montenegro, and Portugal.
A majority of immigrants have passports from countries of the European Union.
Last year the final stage of an accord with the EU came into effect, easing access for foreigners to the Swiss labour market.
The number of foreigners acquiring a Swiss passport in 2004 dropped slightly to 36,957 from 37,070, said the Federal Migration Office.
About 30 per cent of the newly naturalised Swiss were citizens from Serbia and Montenegro, and Turkey.
The total population increased by 0.7 per cent last year to 7.42 million. The figure does not include asylum seekers, foreign diplomats and officials.
The number of pensioners rose by 0.4 per cent between 2000 and 2004 to 15.8 per cent of the population.
At the same time the number of children and teenagers decreased by one per cent to 22.1 per cent of the population, according to the Federal Statistics Office.
The central Swiss canton of Zug, which is known as a tax haven, saw the biggest population growth. Next in line came the cantons of Valais and Vaud in western Switzerland.
swissinfo with agencies
Total resident population: 7.42 million – up 0.7%
Resident foreigners: 1.5 million – up 1.6%
Largest foreign communities:
Serbian and Montenegrin 13.3%
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