Three in ten people in large cities have foreign background

Non-western immigrant population up strongly

There were 3.0 million immigrants in the Netherlands on 1 January 2002. Just over half of these (1.6 million) fall into the category non-western immigrants. This population group now accounts for nearly one tenth of the total population and is growing relatively strongly. While the total population of the Netherlands has increased by just over three percent in the space of five years, the number of people with a non-western background has risen by more than a quarter.

Relatively few immigrants in smaller municipalities

The share of non-western immigrants in the total population is highest in the four largest cities: in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht three in ten inhabitants are of non-western descent. In other municipalities with more than 100 thousand inhabitants this is one in ten, and in the smaller towns and villages one in twenty.

The concentration in the large cities is strongest for the ‘traditional’ immigrant origins: Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese and Antilleans. Second generations of these groups are also concentrated in the west of the Netherlands. More recent immigrants - mostly asylum immigrants – are distributed more evenly across the country.

Mainly Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese and Antilleans

Some three quarters of the total population of non-western immigrants in the four large cities consist of Surinamese. Moroccans, Turks and Antilleans/Arubans. However, there are differences in the proportions of background nationalities between the cities. In Amsterdam and The Hague people with a Surinamese background account for about a third of the total non-western immigrant population. In Utrecht they make up one seventh. Here Moroccans are the largest group by far with 43 percent of the non-western population in this city. Relatively fewer Moroccans live in The Hague and Rotterdam. Turks are more evenly distributed across the four large cities, although their share in Amsterdam is relatively low. The largest numbers of Antilleans/Arubans live in Rotterdam and The Hague.

Distributions of non-western immigrants by country of origin

Joop Garssen and Arno Sprangers