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Population by nationality

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At the beginning of 2024, slightly more than 6,083,500 people of Belgian nationality and almost 738,200 people of foreign nationality were living in the Flemish Region. This brings the share of people of foreign nationality to 11% of the total . In 2000, this share was 5% of the population.

6 out of 10 foreigners have a nationality of one of the 27 countries of the European Union.

Dutch largest foreign nationality group

The largest group of foreigners in the Flemish Region has the Dutch nationality. At the beginning of 2024, they represented more than 153,000 persons, which corresponds to 21% of the total number of foreigners. After the Dutch, Romanians and Poles are the largest groups with a non-Belgian nationality. Ukrainians are in 4th place. They are followed by Bulgarians, Moroccans, Spaniards, Italians, French and Turks.

Increase between 2000 and 2024 relatively largest among new EU member states

In general, the number of people of foreign nationality in the Flemish Region increased by a factor of 2.5 between 2000 and 2024. In relative terms, this increase was the largest for the group with a nationality of one of the (the new member states of the European Union that joined since 2004). This increase was also higher than average for persons with a European non-EU nationality and the residual category “other countries”. On the other hand, the number of people with Turkish nationality and a nationality of the fell between 2000 and 2024.

Most people with foreign nationality live in periphery around Brussels, major cities and border region

The proportion of people with a foreign nationality is highest in the periphery around Brussels, in the major cities Antwerp and Ghent and in the border region with the Netherlands in the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg. The of the Flemish Region also score relatively high.

The nationality of foreigners varies from region to region. Along the border with the Netherlands, the foreigners are mainly Dutch citizens, while in the periphery of Brussels it concerns mainly EU-citizens. Persons with a non-EU nationality live mainly in Antwerp, Ghent and the central cities.

Share of foreigners in Flemish Region slightly above EU average

In 2023, the proportion of people with a foreign nationality was higher in the Brussels-Capital Region (37%) than in the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region (both 11%). The share for Belgium as a whole amounted to 14% of the population.

Throughout the European Union, 9% of the population had a foreign nationality in 2023. The number of foreigners was the highest in Luxembourg: almost half of the population had a foreign nationality. The share was the lowest in Romania.

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