Germany sees biggest increase in foreigners in 20 years

BERLIN Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:25am EDT

Men wheel shopping trolleys in a Duty Free store at the Fraport airport in Frankfurt November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Men wheel shopping trolleys in a Duty Free store at the Fraport airport in Frankfurt November 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

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BERLIN (Reuters) - The number of foreigners living in Germany rose by 4.1 percent last year, the biggest increase since 1993, driven by an influx of residents from EU members Poland and Hungary, the Statistics Office said on Tuesday.

Net immigration to Europe's biggest economy coupled with a higher number of births than deaths last year contributed to the increase, said the Office.

The data also showed that the number of Turks who are registered as living in Germany fell by 2 percent last year.

While Turks still comprise the biggest group of foreigners in Germany -- about three times as many as Italians and Poles, who come next -- many have moved back to Turkey or taken German citizenship in the last few years, said the Office.

By contrast, citizens from the former communist eastern European states of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria are coming to Germany in ever bigger numbers. The number of Poles alone rose by 13.6 percent last year.

Other big increases came from countries hit by the euro crisis. The number of Greeks rose by 5.1 percent and Spaniards by 9.1 percent.

Worried about a shortage of skilled workers and the effect of its ageing population on the social security system in future decades, Germany is starting to make it easier for some foreigners to live here.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Noah Barkin)

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