Immigration to European Major Cities in One Picture

Did you know that there are almost as many migrants in London as there are migrants in the four other major cities of Europe; specifically Madrid, Milan, Paris and Berlin, combined?

Migrant presence in five cities of Europe

At a time when immigration is a toxic word in many political debates around Europe, it is good to take an objective view about immigration and its numbers. Many elements are frequently not considered by the Media. At Migreat, we want to provide the big picture about immigration and the facts about it in Europe.

We picked the cities where the Migreat Community Platform is live – and where Migreat delivers information daily to migrants. We then combined census data and city population data, added it all up – and started comparing. What we found are the following five interesting facts:

1. London overcrowded with migrants? Well, not really. London is 15 times the area of Paris – with an overall population only 2.7 times that of Paris. So if one needs to complain about migrants – maybe Parisians should do so before Londoners?

2. Madrid, the most cosmopolitan city! Almost one out of three residents of Madrid is a migrant – making it the European capital with the largest proportion of migrants among the five selected; it also has the second highest concentration of migrants after London. Most migrants come from Latin America (592,271) – thanks to easier and more advantageous visa rules (and language), with a surprisingly large Romanian community (179,844) that is four times bigger than the one in London (44,848). And yet, no one is complaining about Romanians in Madrid (not to be mistaken with Roma people as we have previously written).

3. Immigration to Europe is heavily influenced by the colonial past & the labour shortages of the 70’s. There is a clear link between 19th century colonial empires, the economic history of European countries and the presence of specific migrant communities in each European Capital. One out of two migrants in Paris is of Maghrebi origins, and one out of three migrants found in Berlin, London and Madrid is of Turkish, African/South Asian and Latino origins.

4. Paris is the capital with the smallest population of migrants as a percentage of the population and yet, one of the leading parties in the run up to the next election (and growing in popularity) is an extreme-right anti-immigration party. This confirms the idea that anti-immigration feelings are bred in cities where people are less exposed to migrants and immigration.

5. Language & geography are the main factors of choice for the destination country.  Aside from the colonial past, the data confirms that the favorite destination for the various migrant communities of Europe is the destination that shares a similar language and culture. Francophone Africans live in Paris, Latinos migrate to latin cities first, and English speaking migrants are found predominantly in London.

Migreat produces regular infographics on immigration and migrants – follow our blog to receive them in your inbox.

Disclaimer – All these numbers are extracted from Census data from 2011 or city books of registered citizens. This means that the data may not reflect the exact numbers of migrants and can miss out on recent inflows of migrants coming from Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East.

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