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Record migration wave into Finland

Immigration last year approached 35,000, shattering the previous record by nearly 3,000. Close to eight out of 10 were foreign citizens, primarily from Iraq, Russia and Afghanistan.

Miehet laittavat ruokaa laitoskeittiössä
Iraqi asylum seekers at a reception centre. Image: Anu Pöntinen / Yle

Immigration was up by 21 percent last year compared to 2015. According to figures out from Statistics Finland on Wednesday, more than 34,900 people became residents of Finland in 2016. That exceeds the previous record, set in 2013, by almost 3,000. Returning Finns made up just 12 percent of the arrivals, says the official statistics bureau.

In 2015, Finland received a record influx of 32,500 asylum seekers, some of whom received residence permits last year.

Migration within the country continued to grow, too, with the biggest net gains in the Uusimaa and Pirkanmaa region, which include Helsinki and Tampere respectively.

Meanwhile emigration increased by 11 percent to more than 18,000 people. The net migration gain rose to 16,823, up from the previous year's 12,441.

More leaving Finland for other EU countries

Almost six out of 10 emigrants were Finnish citizens. Overall there was a migration loss of nearly 3,000 Finnish citizens.

Finland's migration surge was largely due to non-EU immigrants. Immigration from outside the EU was up by more than half, to 15,716 from 10,247 a year earlier.

The biggest immigration gain was from Iraq at just over 3,000, followed by Russia at slightly more than 2,000 and Afghanistan at just over 1,000.

Immigration from other EU countries into Finland remained steady, just shy of 13,000. However the numbers leaving Finland for other EU states has climbed steadily over the past six years, approaching 12,000 in 2016. Finland’s migration gain from the rest of the EU dropped by nearly half from 2015 to around 1,100 people.

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