Foreign Population in Switzerland
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There are 1.4 millions foreigners living in Switzerland (20% of the total). They are an essential component of the economic and demographic balance of Switzerland’s aging population. In fact, without its foreign residents, Switzerland’s population would decrease by 7,500 every year through death and emigration. However, thanks to the foreigners’ higher birth rate, the total population is actually increasing.

Immigrants are attracted to Switzerland by the quality of life and some of the highest salaries in the world. However, with such a high foreign population, immigration is a constant issue in Swiss politics. Strict federal immigration regulations apply, with annual quotas and a strong bias in favor of European immigrants, who constitute almost 90% of the foreign population.

Swiss citizenship can be obtained only after 12 years of continuous residence,a police inquiry and a Swiss culture exam, which sometimes includes the recipe for fondue (see Chapter 19). As a result of these strict controls of the country’s foreign population, xenophobia is very low and violence against foreigners non-existent.

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