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Foreign language speakers catching up to Finnish Swedes

An increasing number of people living in Finland have a mother tongue other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami. In fact, the country will soon boast as many native speakers of foreign languages as Swedish-speaking Finns.

Image: YLE

About 245,000 native speakers of foreign languages lived in Finland in 2011, making up about 4.5 percent of the population, according to Statistics Finland. On the other hand, Swedish-speaking Finns number 5.4 percent of the population, or 291,000 people.

Russian is the most commonly spoken foreign language in Finland, claiming 31 percent of all native speakers of foreign languages. Also frequently heard in Finland are Estonian (18 percent), Somali (7 percent) and English (7 percent).

At the end of last year, some 183,000 foreign nationals were resident in Finland. This amounts to 3.4 percent of the population.

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