Quarter of a million east Europeans in the Netherlands

10/11/2009 15:00

On 1 January 2009, a quarter of a million people from eastern Europe had settled in the Netherlands, nearly four times as many as during the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, twenty years ago to the day.

Number of people from eastern Europe in the Netherlands on 1 January by country of origin

Number of people from eastern Europe in the Netherlands on 1 January by country of origin

Growing number of asylum seekers

The fall of the Berlin Wall led to a growing number of asylum seekers, particularly from Poland, Romania and the former Soviet Union. Many East Germans also seized the opportunity after 9 November 1989 to emigrate to western Europe. Between 1988 and 1990, the share of East Germans in total German immigration rose from 4 to 8 percent. Approximately 8 thousand Germans living in the Netherlands were born in the former German Democratic Republic (excluding Berlin).

Proportion of east Europeans in total German immigration, 1986-2008

Proportion of east Europeans in total German immigration, 1986-2008

Warfare triggers increase in immigration

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, various other historical events caused a further increase in immigrants from eastern Europe to the Netherlands. After the outbreak of the war in former Yugoslavia by the end of 1991, the number of (former) Yugoslavs in the Netherlands doubled between 1992 and 1995 to nearly 50 thousand. 

As a result of the Second Chechen War, which began in 1999, many people fled the former Soviet Union and came to the Netherlands in the early twenty-first century.

Further increase due to expanding European Union

The expansion of the European Union (EU) on 1 May 2004 with ten countries mainly situated in Eastern Europe triggered a considerable increase in immigrants from these countries. The number of immigrants from Poland doubled between 2004 and 2009 to nearly 70 thousand. Immigrants from the new member states often come to the Netherlands looking for jobs.

The number of immigrants also increased due to accession of Bulgaria and Romania in the (EU) in 2007.

Number of east European immigrants by native country, 1980-2008

Number of east European immigrants by native country, 1980-2008

Three in ten east Europeans living in the Netherlands were born here.

Han Nicolaas and Carel Harmsen