Residents with foreign background in Helsinki

One out of every six Helsinkians is of foreign origin

At the beginning of this year, Helsinki had 103,412 residents of foreign origin. They constituted 16.0 per cent of the total city population. Out of all Helsinki residents with foreign background, 18 per cent were born in Finland. Thus, they belonged to the second generation of the population with foreign background. The City Executive Office maintains the Population with foreign background website, where the statistics can be found.

A resident with foreign background is defined as a person whose both parents were born abroad. The number of residents of foreign origin grew last year by 3,504 people, i.e. by 3.5 per cent. The growth percentage has been trending downwards during the last five years and was this time exceptionally low. Nevertheless, about three-quarters of the city’s population growth stems from residents with foreign background.

Almost half of Finland’s residents of foreign origin lived in the Capital Region, whereas the region’s share of the country’s total population was about one-fifth.

At the beginning of 2019, the foreign-origin population’s most common countries of origin were the former Soviet Union (18,008 people), Estonia (12,500), Somalia (10,803), Iraq (5,938) and China (3,621). In 2018, the largest growth was registered among residents of Asian origin.

Decreasing net immigration of foreign-language speakers

Last year, Helsinki was the recipient of a net immigration of 2,545 foreign-language speakers. This constitutes two-thirds of the city’s total net immigration. The net immigration of foreign-language speakers decreased clearly as compared to the previous years.

In 2018, more foreign-language speakers relocated from Helsinki to other parts of Finland, especially Vantaa, compared to the previous year. There were also more people who emigrated from Finland compared to the previous year. 

Last year, the largest language groups within Helsinki's net immigration were Arabic speakers (583 people), Somali speakers (347 people) and Russian speakers (267 people). A person is defined as speaking a native language of foreign origin, if the language registered in the Population Information System is some other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami.

For further information, see the Population with foreign background in Helsinki -website, which is now available also in English.