More than one in ten individuals with Swiss citizenship do not live in Switzerland. The recently published statistics reveal where most Swiss nationals living abroad reside, as well as the six countries with no Swiss residents at all.
For the first time, over 800,000 Swiss citizens lived abroad. According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the number of Swiss nationals living abroad increased by 1.5 percent by the end of 2022 compared to the previous year. Currently, there are precisely 800,041 individuals with Swiss citizenship residing abroad, accounting for 12.3 percent of all Swiss citizens (6.5 million out of the 8.8 million residents in Switzerland possess Swiss citizenship).
Residence of Swiss Nationals Living Abroad (2022)
According to the FSO’s data, there was an increase in Swiss nationals living abroad on all continents compared to 2021. The reasons cited by the FSO include migration patterns, as well as the difference between the number of births and deaths, and naturalizations.
The number of Swiss citizens living in Portugal (+12.9 percent), Israel (+3.5 percent), and Spain (+2.8 percent) particularly increased last year. It was also noted that an increasing number of Swiss citizens are settling in specific regions of Asia. Over the past decade, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand have been particularly popular destinations.
Change in Swiss Nationals Living Abroad Compared to 2021
In countries with the highest percentage increase in Swiss nationals, such as Sudan, Suriname, or Iraq, the absolute numbers are low, which makes even small changes more significant.
The most popular destinations for emigration from Switzerland include neighboring countries like France, Germany, and Italy, as well as English-speaking countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Spain and Israel follow closely behind.
Top 10 Destinations for Swiss Emigrants:
- France: 206,433
- Germany: 98,121
- USA: 82,662
- Italy: 51,241
- Canada: 41,178
- United Kingdom: 39,476
- Australia: 26,088
- Spain: 25,814
- Israel: 22,837
- Austria: 17,995
Europe remained the preferred continent for Swiss nationals residing abroad, with 64 percent of all Swiss citizens living there. Of those residing outside Europe, nearly a quarter were in the United States.
Currently, only one Swiss citizen resides in Micronesia, a group of islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Three Swiss citizens each have settled in Eritrea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Lesotho, and Kiribati (see map).
Residence with a Maximum of 10 Swiss Nationals (2022)
- Guyana: 10
- Timor-Leste: 10
- Afghanistan: 10
- Suriname: 9
- Solomon Islands: 9
- Tonga: 9
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines: 8
- Comoros: 6
- Equatorial Guinea: 6
- Guinea-Bissau: 4
- Eritrea: 3
- São Tomé and Príncipe: 3
- Lesotho: 3
- Kiribati: 3
- Micronesia: 1
Countries with No Swiss Nationals (2022)
- North Korea
- Marshall Islands
For the first time since 1998, no Swiss citizens resided in North Korea in 2022. At its peak in 2005, there were nine individuals with Swiss citizenship who had settled in the “evil empire.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kim Jong-un sealed off his country even more than usual, leading most diplomats and aid organizations to withdraw.
The Federal Statistical Office has been tracking this Pacific Ocean island state since 1995. At that time, one Swiss citizen was registered. Since 2002, no Swiss citizens have been officially registered on the island with just over 10,000 inhabitants.
In 2010, there were still eight Swiss nationals registered in this Central Asian country, which marked the provisional peak. Five years later, only one person with Swiss citizenship permanently resided there, and since 2016, there have been no officially registered Swiss citizens in the country with a population of approximately 5.7 million.
With a population of just under 10,000, Nauru, located in the Pacific Ocean, is one of the smallest countries in the world. Currently, there are no Swiss citizens residing there, and it is unclear if any Swiss citizens were ever registered there.
In 2018, two Swiss citizens still lived on this small archipelago covering 181 square kilometers. From 2019 to 2020, only one Swiss citizen remained. Now, no individuals with Swiss citizenship have set up camp there.
Until 2020, this island group with over 500 islands in the western Pacific was home to three Swiss citizens. However, a year later, all three had moved away.
In conclusion, the number of Swiss nationals living abroad has surpassed 800,000, with over one in ten Swiss citizens residing outside of Switzerland. The statistics highlight a global trend of migration, driven by various factors such as economic opportunities, lifestyle preferences, and personal circumstances. While neighboring countries and English-speaking nations remain popular choices for Swiss emigrants, there is also a growing interest in regions like Asia.
The data reveals significant increases in the Swiss expat population in countries such as Portugal, Israel, and Spain. However, it is important to note that even countries with relatively small absolute numbers of Swiss citizens can experience substantial percentage changes, emphasizing the significance of such shifts.
Furthermore, Europe remains the preferred continent for Swiss nationals living abroad, with a majority choosing to settle there. Nevertheless, it is intriguing to note the presence of Swiss citizens in lesser-known locations across the globe, demonstrating their adventurous spirit.
Interestingly, six countries have no Swiss residents at all, including North Korea, Turkmenistan, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Palau, and Tuvalu. Reasons for this absence vary, ranging from diplomatic conditions to the unique characteristics and limited population of these nations.
Overall, the statistics offer a glimpse into the diverse global landscape of Swiss expatriates, showcasing their widespread presence and the intriguing patterns of migration they follow. The phenomenon reflects the interconnectedness of our world and the diverse choices individuals make when seeking new horizons beyond their home country.