The number of people living in the Helsinki region who speak a foreign language as their mother tongue is expected to double by the year 2030. Around a quarter of a million people with a native tongue other than Finnish or Swedish are expected to live in the capital area 20 years from now.
The number of foreign speakers has risen rapidly over the past decade. Last year, over 100,000 foreign-language residents lived in the capital region. About eight percent of the capital region’s population speaks a language other than Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue.
The growth of foreign language speakers is expected to rise the fastest in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. By 2030, about 20 percent of the capital region’s population is expected to speak a foreign language as their first language.
Estonian Speakers on the Rise
In the 2000s, immigrants from Russia, the Baltic countries and Asia shot up the most. The number of Estonian speakers grew the most rapidly, particularly in the latter part of the decade. Estonia, just south of Helsinki across the Gulf of Finland, joined the EU in 2004.
Over 75 percent of South Asian language groups who live in Finland reside in the Helsinki area. For Somali speakers, who make up Finland’s sixth largest language group, the number is 84 percent.