International Migrants Day

One in eight residents of Slovenia is an immigrant

Out of the 250,000 foreign-born residents of Slovenia, more than a half are Slovenian citizens. Most immigrants in Slovenia came from the territory of former Yugoslavia.

  • 12/12/2018
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The International Migrants Day has been observed since 2000. 18 December was selected in memory of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families on 18 December 1990.
Slovenia has a long history of immigration. The volume and direction of migration flows have been changing, which reflects in the interesting immigration structure of Slovenia’s population. Opinions about this differ. Some of them are very stereotypical. We state some of them and try to confirm or deny them with official statistical data.

Statement 1: All immigrants are foreigners and all foreigners are immigrants.

Not true. As many as 250,000 (12.1%) residents of Slovenia are foreign-born, meaning that they immigrated to Slovenia at some point in their lives. Over half of them (137,000) have Slovenian citizenship. Some of them were born as Slovenian citizens (e.g. born to Slovenian parents abroad), while others became Slovenian citizens by naturalisation.

Also, not all foreign citizens in Slovenia are immigrants. On 1 January 2018 of the almost 122,000 residents with foreign citizenship about 8,600 or 7% were born in Slovenia and are thus not immigrants.


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Statement 2: Most immigrants in Slovenia came from the territory of former Yugoslavia.

True. Several decades of living in the same state reflects in the current immigration structure of Slovenia. Among 250,000 immigrants, 216,000 (86%) were born in one of the former Yugoslav republics, most of them (108,000) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by Croatia (45,000) and Serbia (25,000).

Among the residents of Slovenia there are 171 foreign countries of birth. In addition to the mentioned area of former Yugoslavia, the most common are Germany (7,300), Italy (4,100) and the Russian Federation (3,000). The most common non-European countries of birth are China (1,000), the United States (800), and Argentina and Canada (400 each).

There are regional differences in the distribution of foreign-born residents. Most immigrants in the Pomurska statistical region were born in Croatia (36%), while in all other statistical regions most immigrants were born in Bosnia and Herzegovina (32%–65%). Residents born in Italy represent almost 9% of all immigrants in the Obalno-kraška statistical region and less than 0.2% of all immigrants in the Zasavska statistical region.


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Statement 3: The number of immigrants in Slovenia is growing.

True. In 1948 the results of the first post-World War II population census showed that 5.5% of residents of Slovenia were born outside Slovenia. In 2002 the share was 8.5% and in 2011 11.1%. By 2018 the share increased to 12.1%.

More than half (55%) of foreign-born residents of Slovenia first immigrated after Slovenia became independent. Most foreign-born residents from Kosovo (45%), Serbia (29%) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (23%) immigrated to Slovenia after 2010, while almost 25% of foreign-born residents from Croatia immigrated to Slovenia already in the 1970s.

Most foreign-born residents from Argentina (40%) immigrated to Slovenia in the 2000s, and almost half of foreign-born residents from China (49%) immigrated after 2010.

Among foreign-born residents of Slovenia there are more men (57%) than women. The gender difference is the largest among those who immigrated in the 2000s: almost twice as many men as women. Among those who immigrated in the 2010s the ratio is slightly more balanced.

Statement 4: Immigrants are younger than other residents of Slovenia.

Partly true. At first immigration the immigrants are most often in their active age: foreign-born residents were on average just over 27 years old when they immigrated to Slovenia. This agrees with the fact that employment is the most common reason for foreign citizens immigrating to Slovenia.

However, it is true that foreign-born residents are on average older than residents born in Slovenia. At the beginning of 2018 the mean age of the residents of Slovenia was 43.2 years; the mean age of foreign-born residents was 48.6 years, while the mean age of residents born in Slovenia was 42.5 years.

An average immigrant in Slovenia is thus a man with upper secondary education, citizen of Slovenia, born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, aged almost 49 years who first immigrated to Slovenia in the 1990s.


Visit our SiStat database.