If the trend doesn’t reverse itself, visitors to Finland will not really encounter ethnic Finns as in times past.
In consensus driven Finnish politics, the main parties never really felt a need to make multiculturalism, under girded by mass immigration, into a election issue. Yes the ‘The Finns Party’ made it into an issue, but at the time they were a minor party, and now since making headway, the other main parties will continue to lock them out of government unless they make even more major gains in the next parliamentary elections.
At the beginning of this year, there were nearly 74,000 speakers of foreign languages were living in the Finnish capital according to figures released by the City of Helsinki’s Urban Facts department on Friday.
That was an increase of some 5300 people from a year earlier.
The foreign languages spoken most widely in the city are Russian, Estonian, Somali and English.
Most of the growth in Helsinki’s population last year came among speakers of languages other than the native languages of Finnish. Swedish and Sámi (the language of Lapland’s small indigenous population).
Nearly half of Finland’s foreign speakers live in the capital region, with about one quarter of the total within Helsinki city limits.
Over the past decade, the number of speakers of foreign languages in the city has soared at an annual rate of around 7.5 percent.
More Estonian and Russian speakers
In recent years, there has been particularly brisk growth in the number of Estonian speakers. The highest proportion of them live in eastern and north-eastern Helsinki.
Finland’s southern neighbour, Estonia became a member of the European Union in 2004.
Last year more than 7000 moved to the capital from abroad. Three quarters of them spoke languages other than Finnish or Swedish.
Since 2008, there has been a trend of foreign speakers moving out of Helsinki into the surrounding municipalities, with a net outflux of some 3000 annually.
Demographers predict that the foreign-speaking population of Helsinki will expand by 73,000 by the year 2030 – in other words roughly doubling in less than two decades. At that point, one in five city-dwellers will have a native language other than Finnish or Swedish. The most rapid growth is expected among speakers of Russian, including some from Estonia.
At Helsinki academic high schools, 9.4 percent of pupils have a foreign mother tongue, as do just over 10 percent of those at vocational schools. That was the same level as at polytechnics, with the rate among university students at 7.3 percent. All these rates have risen in the past few years, say city statisticians.