Come to Germany on holiday and the chances are that every 10th person you'll see is a foreign national. According to a government statistics office, the population without German citizenship is approaching 8.2 million.
The number of foreign nationals living in Germany rose by more than half a million in 2014, the most in a single year since 1991 and 1992, taking the total to almost 8.2 million people - roughly 10 percent of the population.
Figures from government statistics agency Destatis released on Monday showed a net gain of 519,340 people, or 6.8 percent, with purely foreign citizenship (excluding dual nationals) in Germany during the course of the year. This compared to increases of 419,920 in 2013 and of 282,800 in 2012.
"So far there have only been two years where the number of foreigners in Gemany saw a stronger rise than in 2014 - namely in 1992, by 613,500, and in 1991, by 539,800," said a Destatis press release. Germany took in people fleeing ethnic violence in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
The total of 8.2 million registered foreign citizens, in a country with a population estimated to be just over 80 million people, is the highest since records began in 1967.
Most from EU's east, Syrian rate rising
More than 60 percent of the new arrivals, just over 300,000, hailed from other EU member countries. Germany's Romanian population (up 32.9 percent year-on-year) and its Bulgarian contingent (up 24.8 percent) were the fastest-growing groups from the bloc.
Figures also showed increases from other eastern EU member countries and, to a lesser extent, from the recession-hit south of the eurozone. Of Italy, Greece and Spain, it was the Iberian country - with a much smaller expatriate population in Germany - exhibiting the fastest rates of growth at 8.3 percent for the year.
Outside the EU, Syria's civil war made the biggest impact on German demographics in 2014. A total of 61,295 Syrians came to Germany in 2014, more than doubling the known Syrian population in the country.
Integration in action - citizenship lowers Turkish figures
Turkish citizens remained the most numerous group without German passports in the country, but actually fell by 1.5 percent to just over 1.5 million people during the course of 2014. Destatis attributed this drop "primarily" to Turks being removed from this list after taking up German citizenship.
Numerically, the populous states of Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden Württemberg unsurprisingly attracted the most new foreign residents, but it was the smaller eastern states like Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania where the rate of immigration was rising most sharply.
Immigration into Germany is believed to be a factor helping to drive the success of new populist political groups like the euroskeptic AfD (Alternative for Germany) party, and the grass-roots PEGIDA movement which held several marches in cities like Dresden last year. However, the anti-immigration demonstrations usually drew crowds of counter-protesters, often outnumbering the original displays. With a population that's aging and shrinking faster than any other on the planet except Japan's, many German businesses and analysts have urged for easier immigration in order to bolster the country's workforce.
msh/kms (dpa, Reuters)