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Germany

More Ethnic Turks Becoming German Citizens, Study Shows

Turks are still Germany's largest foreign minority, but those born in the country are now more likely to become citizens, according to figures released by the Federal Statistics Office.

German passport on top of a map of the world

More and more foreigners are becoming German citizens

Germany is home to some 6.7 million foreigners, of which one-quarter are Turkish nationals, the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) in Wiesbaden said on Monday, March 23.

The number of Turkish citizens living in Germany, however, declined by 25,200 to 1.7 million by year-end in 2008, due mainly to the number of Turks who were granted German citizenship during the course of the entire year.

Ethnic Turks residing in Germany must normally choose between Turkish or German citizenship. Even though nationality laws based mainly on descent were eased in 2000, it is not uncommon for those born in Germany to foreigners to assume their parents' nationality instead.

Influx from the EU

Moslem women with headscarves at a bus stop in Duisburg

The new law made it easier for those born in Germany to foreign parents to become citizens

In contrast to the decline in numbers of Turkish nationals, the number of foreigners from EU member states rose in the same 12-month period. The largest numbers of EU foreigners came from countries that had joined the 27-nation bloc since its expansion eastwards in 2004.

The number of Poles who settled in Germany went up by some 9,000 in 2008 compared to the previous year. However the biggest percentage gains came from Rumania and Bulgaria, which were admitted to the European Union in 2007.

The number of Rumanian nationals went up by 9,700 in 2008, up 12 percent from the previous year, while the number of Bulgarian citizens rose to 7,200, up 15 percent from 2007.

EU passports not very common

A train with Yugoslav workers arriving in Germany in 1972

Foreign "guest workers" helped fuel the German economic boom

About 80 percent of all foreigners living in Germany are Turkish or European nationals, of which only one third has EU passports. The rest come from countries that hope to join the EU, such as Turkey, Croatia, Macedonia as well as Russia and other countries.

Decades after the first "guest workers" arrived from Turkey during the Wirtschaftswunder or economic miracle in the 1960s, the Turks are still Germany's largest foreign minority, followed by the Italians, Poles, Serbs, Greeks, Croatians and Russians.

Nearly all of the 192 nations that are member states of the United Nations are represented in Germany, reflecting a growing diversity in the entire resident population, which numbers 82 million.

Most foreigners are long-time residents

The majority of foreigners in Germany are long time residents of the country. Some 72 percent or nearly five million foreigners have lived in Germany for a minimum of eight years and therefore even meet the minimum residency requirements to apply for citizenship.

About half of those long-time foreign residents have been in the country for more than twenty years, whereas twenty percent of all foreigners were born in Germany.

The average age of foreign residents is 38 years old, a slight rise from 2007, which suggests that since the 2000 nationality laws took effect, more foreigners born in Germany are becoming citizens, according to the statistics office.

In 2008, there were only 356,400 children under the age of 10 who were foreign nationals, compared to 521,300 in the same age group three years ago.

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