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Foreign population in city of Vantaa more than doubles in ten years
One in ten residents speaks some other language than Finnish or Swedish at home
The city of Vantaa, to the north and east of Helsinki, appears destined to become Finland’s most international community. Hannele Lautiola, the city’s coordinator of nulticultural affairs, confirms what has long been obvious to anyone walking around in many Vantaa neighbourhoods. "About ten percent of Vantaa residents speak something other than Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue", she says.
The number of foreign citizens in Vantaa has more than doubled in the past ten years. Last year they numbered 7,660. There are even more with a foreign background - 12,000, or 6.3 percent of the population. Only in Helsinki is the proportion higher.
Tuula Reiman, head of immigrants' services in Vantaa, notes that the Helsinki region as a whole tends to attract people with foreign backgrounds from other parts of Finland.
"Many want to come to Vantaa because they already have relatives and friends here. The availability of municipal housing is also a decisive factor."
Katariina Poskiparta, head of residents' services for the City of Vantaa, emphasises that the city does not see the influx of immigrants as something negative. "Some of those moving here are employees of international companies, and many who move to Finland through marriage rapidly find work here."
She also welcomes other types of immigrants, whether they be refugees, or students, for instance. "It is good that new people come here while the working age population grows smaller."
Poskiparta says that it is very difficult to calculate the costs incurred by housing foreign residents. "What is most important is the rapid training of immigrants, learning the language, and ultimately, getting work."