Zurich's expat population has more than doubled in the last 60 years

Zurich's expat population has more than doubled in the last 60 years

A new report by the city of Zurich has revealed that, while the population of Switzerland's largest city has remained largely unchanged since the 1960s, the number of expats and internationals living within city limits has more than doubled. 

Zurich's net population increased by 1 person in 60 years

From humble beginnings as a town of 117.000 people in 1893, Zurich experienced rapid growth in the late 19th century, as people were attracted to the city by jobs and greater opportunities than the surrounding countryside. By 1934, the city had more than doubled its population to 316.000 inhabitants.

After rapid growth between the 1930s and 1950s, in 1962, Zurich had 440.180 people renting houses or apartments within city limits. Since then, the population has stagnated, which means that 60 years later, net population growth is 1 person, with a total of 440.181 people recorded as living in the city in 2022.

Zurich now home to a large number of expats and internationals

While population numbers may have stayed the same, who makes up that population has changed a lot. In 1962, there were 64.000 non-Swiss residents in the city, with the two largest demographics being Italians and Germans.

But the expat population of Zurich has more than doubled in the last 60 years to 140.000 people. This perhaps isn't surprising as the city is now home to a large array of international companies that employ a significant number of expats.

Across the city, international schools, German-language schools and international community groups have sprung up to cater for the expat community. The city council noted that migration in and out of the city has also slowed in the last 60 years, as expats now choose to stay much longer in Switzerland’s metropolis than they used to.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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