Helsinki is expecting a massive influx of immigrants.

A forecast drawn up by the municipalities of the capital region indicates that the foreign-language population of Helsinki will grow by 80,000–85,000 by 2030. Nearly one-fourth, or 23 per cent, of the population is consequently forecast to speak other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami as their mother tongue.

The share of foreign-language speakers of the population of Helsinki stood at 13.5 per cent at the beginning of this year, with Russian, Estonian, Somali and English speakers being the largest groups foreign-language speakers.

Arabic, in particular, is projected to become a greater feature of the urban landscape. Helsinki will according to the forecast be home to as many as 32,000 people who speak Middle Eastern or Northern African languages – such as Arabic or Kurdish – as their mother tongue by 2030, representing a three-fold increase from the current situation.

Most of the asylum seekers arriving in Finland fall into this particular language group.

Other African and Asian languages are similarly expected to become more common, whereas the significance of the largest minority language today, Russian, is expected to decline.

The forecast on the number of foreign-language speakers in the capital region was drawn up this autumn. The forecast forwards two alternative scenarios depending on the number of asylum seekers arriving in the country after 2018. Both of the scenarios are based on the assumption that a total of 75,000 asylum seekers will arrive in Finland in 2015–2017.

Another premise of the forecast is that 30 per cent of the applicants will be granted asylum. Roughly half of the successful applicants are expected to move to the capital region and roughly one-quarter to Helsinki.

The primary scenario is based on the assumption that the number of asylum seekers arriving in the country will drop to the levels of 2014 soon after 2017. The other scenario, in contrast, is based on the assumption that some 10,000 asylum seekers will continue to enter the country annually also after 2017.

The number of foreign-language speakers relative to population is projected to grow faster in Espoo and Vantaa than in Helsinki. Vantaa is already – and Espoo is soon expected to be – home to more foreign-language speakers relative to population than Helsinki.

Joonas Laitinen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT