Granting citizenship to 60,343 people, Sweden saw a record number of new nationals in 2016. The largest share of ‘new Swedes’ hail from Somalia.
Presenting the data, which showed a 25 per cent rise in the number of people given citizenship in the Nordic nation since 2015, Statistic Sweden writes: “Never before have so many people switched to Swedish citizenship in one year.”
As a result, the number of foreign-born Swedish nationals passed the one million mark for the first time, reaching 1,012,941 by the end of 2016.
Somalis accounted for 15 per cent of the 2017 intake of ‘new Swedes’, with Syrians the second largest group, accounting for seven per cent of the total.
Just over one in five of new Swedish nationals were already citizens of another European Union (EU) nation. Poles made up the greatest share of this group, followed by Finland, Denmark, and the UK.
Noting the high percentage increase in British-born people granted citizenship in 2017 compared to other years, the agency speculated that the phenomena “may be explained largely by Britain’s decision to leave the EU”.
Statistics Sweden noted “people with foreign backgrounds”, a term which refers to those born abroad or whose parents were both born abroad, now make up the majority of residents in several Swedish municipalities, such as Botkyrka and Haparanda.
Of these minority-Swedish districts, the agency said Södertälje saw the largest increase in its share of residents with foreign backgrounds, rising from 50.8 per cent in 2015 to 51.9 per cent at the end of last year.
The most dramatic shift was seen in Hultsfred, where the proportion of people with foreign origins increased to 24.3 per cent of its population from 19.7 per cent in 2015.
Only one municipality saw its share of non-Swedish residents decrease last year. People with a foreign background went from constituting 23.7 per cent of the population of Skinnskatteberg in 2015, to 23.5 per cent.
As a result of its high rate of immigration, Sweden recorded more than 2.3 million people with a foreign background at the end of the year, a figure representing 23.2 per cent of its total population.
The nation’s open borders policy has not been without controversy, however. In February, it was reported many libraries in Sweden were refusing to stock Kurdish economist Tino Sanandaji’s “sincere and evidence-driven analysis” of the country’s immigration policy, alleging that the contents were “contrary to human rights”.