Swiss Abroad
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Swiss Abroad
Map of the Swiss people around the world.
  + 100.000 (including ancestry)
  + 10.000
  + 1.000

Swiss people living abroad (German: Auslandsschweizer; French: Suisses de l'étranger; Italian: Svizzeri all'estero; Romansh: Svizzers a l'exteriur), also referred to as "fifth Switzerland" (German: Fünfte Schweiz,[1]Italian: Quinta Svizzera, French: Cinquième Suisse, Romansh: Tschintgavla Svizra), alluding to the fourfold linguistic division within Switzerland. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) takes care for Swiss people living abroad.

Fifth Switzerland Communication

FDFA provides four different ways of publications with Swiss people living abroad. These services include: Voting and electoral right, Consular services, Organization of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) and the Swiss Revue [2][3][4][5][6]

The service "Itineris" provided by the FDFA is available to all Swiss abroad.[7]

Swiss expatriate regions

  • As of 31 December 2016, a total of 774,923 Swiss citizens (Swiss abroad) (+ 21,784 compared to 2015) were registered as living abroad.[8] For reference, in 2007, a total of 668,107 Swiss citizens (10.0%) were registered as living abroad.[9]
  • A majority (71.5%) held dual citizenship; vast majority of these had citizenship of another European Economic Area country, namely and primarily France, Germany, Belgium, Italy or the United Kingdom or were citizens of United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Swiss Jews form a small group in Israel.

The statistics below are:

  • all taken from the 31 December 2016 statistics [8]
  • the 2015 data is shown in brackets
  • +/- indicates the amount by which the figure has increased or decreased compared to the previous year; the previous's year's figure is shown immediately after.


The following ten countries have the highest populations of Swiss abroad:

Swiss citizens internationally
Country Swiss citizens
France 220,730
Germany 89,390
Belgium 82,192
United States 81,075
Italy 51,895
Canada 40,280
United Kingdom 34,971
Spain 25,168
Australia 25,148
Israel 19,433


The following five countries have Africa's highest populations of Swiss abroad:

Swiss citizens in Africa
Country Swiss citizens
South Africa 9,132
Tunisia 1,627
Morocco 1,606
Egypt 1,543
Kenya 960


  • 53,184 (+2,204, 51,610) Swiss abroad

The following five countries have Asia's highest populations of Swiss abroad:

Swiss citizens in Asia
Country Swiss citizens
Israel 19,433
Thailand 9,377
Philippines 3,623
Singapore 3,259
United Arab Emirates 3,089


Suzanne Rahaman Aeby (b. 1954 Freibourg), a former nurse, is the mother of Pengiran Anak Sarah, the wife of Brunei's Crown Prince, Al-Muhtadee Billah.[]


  • 1,714 Swiss abroad

Hong Kong

  • 2,275 Swiss abroad


  • 3,623 Swiss abroad

Sri Lanka

The Schweizerischer Hülfsverein in Ceylon was founded on 15 September 1933. In the beginning, its main purpose was to provide assistance to Swiss citizens in need. In 1956, the Swiss Circle Colombo was established to promote social activities among Swiss nationals in Ceylon. It is now known as Swiss Circle Sri Lanka.[]


  • 482,194 (+14,530, 467,664) Swiss abroad


  • 76 Swiss abroad


  • 16,602 Swiss abroad


  • 200,730 Swiss abroad

The largest number of Swiss immigrants arrived in France between the 1850s and the 1930s. Many of them settled in Alsace and in the cities of Paris, Marseille and Lyon.[11]

Swiss immigration to France, from 1851 to 1936
Source: Quid 2003, p. 624, b.
Nationality 1851 1891 1901 1921 1926 1931 1936
Swiss 25,485 83,117 72,047 90,000 123,119 98,000 79,000


  • 89,390 Swiss abroad


  • 51,895 Swiss abroad


Significant emigration of Swiss people to the Russian Empire occurred from the late 17th to the late 19th century. The late 18th and early 19th century saw a flow of Swiss farmers forming colonies such as ?aba (Bessarabia, at the Dniester Liman, now part of Ukraine). The Russian-Swiss generally prospered, partly merging with German diaspora populations. As at the end of 2016, 776 Swiss citizens live in Russia.


  • 25,168 Swiss abroad

United Kingdom

  • 34,971 Swiss abroad

North America


  • 40,280 Swiss abroad


  • 5,489 Swiss abroad

United States

  • 81,075 Swiss abroad

The first Swiss person in what is now the territory of the United States was Theobald von Erlach (1541-1565).[12] Before the year 1820 some estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Swiss entered British North America. Most of them settled in what is now Pennsylvania, as well as North and South Carolina.

Most Swiss preferred the rural villages of the Midwest and the Pacific Coast, where Italian-speaking Swiss played a significant role in California's winegrowing culture.[13] Swiss immigration diminished after 1930 because of the Great Depression and World War II.

In 1999 New Glarus, Wisconsin was chosen as the future home of the Swiss Center of North America, a cultural center dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Swiss culture. New Glarus was chosen because of its central location and the large concentration of Swiss Americans in the vicinity. Funds for the centre came from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the State of Wisconsin, the Canton of Glarus, and corporations, including General Casualty Insurance, Nestlé USA, Novartis, Phillip Morris Europe, and Victorinox.


  • 32,316 (+664, 31,652)


  • 25,148 Swiss abroad

Over 20,000 people of Swiss origin live in Australia.[14]

New Zealand

  • 6,925 Swiss abroad

South America


  • 15,816 Swiss abroad

By 1940, some 44,000 Swiss had emigrated to Argentina, settling mainly in the provinces of Córdoba and Santa Fe, and to a lesser extent, in Buenos Aires. In 1856 the colony farm of Esperanza was founded in Santa Fe becoming the mother of agricultural colonies in Argentina, and thus beginning a long process of European colonization and immigration on Argentine soil. Current estimates state 150,000 Swiss descendants residing in Argentina.[15]


  • 15,321 Swiss abroad
  • Up to 500,000 Swiss descendants.

The history of Swiss immigration to Brazil began with the foundation of the colony of Nova Friburgo[16] in 1819. Nova Friburgo was the first colonial company contracted by the Portuguese government. The immigrant colonists wrote letters for publication in Swiss newspapers of the period, and these documents reveal the migrants' perceptions, information and expectations.[]

On 4 July 1819 1,088 Swiss, including 830 from the Canton of Fribourg, departed from Estavayer-le-Lac on Lake Neuchâtel. They included Jean-Claude Marchon, his wife Marie Prostasie Chavannaz Marchon, his brother Antoine Marchon and fiancée Marieanne Elizabeth Clerc. They travelled first to Basle, the meeting point of the Swiss Transmigration for Brasil. And then 2.000 Swiss, by the Rhein River, go to Holland and after a lot of peripetia they depart from St. Gravendeel, near Dordrecht, in the Daphne, for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, on September 11. Their arrival in Rio de Janeiro was on November 4, spending 55 days, a very good time for the epoch. And, finally, they arrive in Morro-Queimado (Burnt Mount) on November 15, 1819 - about 12000 kilometers in 105 days, approximately 114 kilometers a day.[]


  • 5,366 Swiss abroad
  • Between 90,000[17] to 100,000 descendants.[18][19]

The percentage of Swiss in Chile is small, despite having a relatively large number of members. This is because their linguistic and cultural characteristics are commonly confused with Germans, Italians and French. Swiss migration to Chile took place at the end of the nineteenth century, between 1883 and 1900, particularly in the area of Araucanía, especially in Victoria and Traiguén. It is estimated that more than 8,000 families received grants of land.[20]

Between April 1876 and May 1877 a contingent of Swiss immigrants comprising 119 families came to the area of Magellanes (Punta Arenas and Fresh Water), mostly peasants from the canton of Fribourg.[21]

Later, during the period from 1915 to 1950, was the last recorded mass exodus of Swiss to Chile. 30,000 people settled in the central area of the country, primarily in Santiago and Valparaíso.[22] There are currently 5,000 Swiss citizens residing in Chile and between 90,000 to 100,000 Swiss descendants.[17][23][18]


  • 2,627 Swiss abroad



  • 1,449 Swiss abroad

Joaquin Ritz and Melchor Grubel arrived in Venezuela in 1529 and 1535 respectively - the first Swiss who came to South America. As of 2009, 1,900 Swiss citizens lived in Venezuela.[24]


Self-reported Swiss ancestry or partial ancestry:

Country Population (partial ancestry) % of country Source
United States Swiss American 997,233 0.3%


Argentina Swiss Argentine without data 0.75%


Canada Swiss Canadian 146,830 0.4%


Chile Swiss Chilean 100,000 0.6%


Brazil Swiss Brazilian 80,000 0.04%


Australia Swiss Australian 28,947 0.1%


See also


  1. ^ Marc, Perrenoud (2012-11-13). "Auslandschweizer" [Historical Lexicon of Switzerland] (in German). Retrieved . Die Neue Helvetische Gesellschaft (NHG) definierte die A[uslandschweizer] als 'Vierte Schweiz' (die allerdings 1938 mit der Anerkennung des Rätoromanischen als vierte Landessprache zur "Fünften Schweiz" wurde). [The New Helvetic Society defined the Swiss diaspora as 'the Fourth Switzerland' (though this became the 'Fifth Switzerland in 1938 with the recognition of Rhaeto-Romansh as the fourth national language.]
  2. ^ "FDFA: The Fifth Switzerland". Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ "Voting and electural rights". Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ "Consular services". Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ "Organization of the swiss abroad". Retrieved 2015.
  6. ^ "Swiss Revue". Retrieved 2015.
  7. ^ "The FDFA to launch internet platform "Itineris" to enable people travelling abroad to register online". Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Auslandschweizerstatistik 2014 nach Wohnländern und Konsularkreisen" (PDF). Retrieved 2015.
  9. ^ EDA, Auslandschweizerdienst: Auslandschweizerstatistik 2007 nach Wohnländern (PDF; 74 kB)
  10. ^ "Auslandschweizer" (PDF). Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ (in French) "L'immigration suisse se fait vers l'Alsace, très anciennement liée, ou vers les grandes villes : Paris, Marseille et Lyon"
  12. ^ Swiss Americans
  13. ^ History of Swiss Settlers Archived 2009-08-01 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ In 2001, 22,151 residents in Australia reported Swiss ancestry.[clarification needed] 30.5% cited "no religion", followed by Catholicism (27.3%).
  15. ^ Argentinien land der Immigranten
  16. ^ História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos - From Nova Friburgo to Fribourg in writing: Swiss colonization seen by the immigrants
  17. ^ a b J. Códoba-Toro (2018): Suizos en Chile. Iberoamérica Social. Retrieved on 20 December 2019.
  18. ^ a b c Relaciones diplomáticas de Suiza con América Latina, Embajada Suiza en Perú. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  19. ^ a b (in Spanish)La inmigración suiza a Chile se desarrolló entre los años 1883 y 1900 y sus protagonistas se situaron particularmente en las emergentes ciudades sureñas de Victoria y Traiguén, estimándose en 8.000 familias las que recibieron concesiones de tierras en dicha zona donde constituyeron 31 colonias que alcanzaron inicialmente a sumar 22 700 personas y cuya descendencia actual supera los 100.000 ciudadanos, la mayor de América Latina". Archived 2014-10-16 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ (in Spanish) Los suizos del fin del mundo.
  21. ^ Families, mostly peasants from the canton of Freiburg.
  22. ^ (in Spanish) Suizos en Chile. Archived 2009-09-25 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ 90,000 Descendants of Swiss in Chile. Archived 2009-09-25 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Actualmente en Venezuela viven aproximadamente 1900 ciudadanos Suizos. Suizos en Venezuela
  25. ^ "2008 Community Survey". Archived from the original on 2020-02-11. Retrieved .
  26. ^ The Swiss Argentine community is the largest group of the Swiss diaspora in Latin America.Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto de la República Argentina. "La emigración suiza a la Argentina (Swiss emigration to Argentina)" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2014.
  27. ^ Statistics Canada. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". Retrieved 2014.
  28. ^ História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos - From Nova Friburgo to Fribourg in writing: Swiss colonization seen by the immigrants
  29. ^ Australian Censis 2011 11,943 by birth 28,947 by ancestry

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