In 2015, 25.5% of Switzerland’s population were foreign, or one in four.
However, foreigners were not spread evenly across the country. The canton with the highest percentage of non-Swiss living within its borders was Geneva, where 42.1% of the population lived without a Swiss passport. Next on the list were the cantons of Basel-City (36.2%), Vaud (34.4%), Ticino (28.3%), and Zug (28.1%). Zurich came in sixth with 26.9%.
At the other end of the spectrum were the cantons of Appenzell-Innerrhoden (11.5%), Uri (13.1%), Nidwalden (14.7), Jura (14.8%), and Obwalden (15.4%).
Absolute numbers produced a different picture. Switzerland’s most populous cantons are Zurich (1.5 million), Bern (1.0 million), Vaud (784,000), Aargau (661,000), St. Gallen (503,000), and Geneva (489,000). Because the cosmopolitan canton of Zurich is home to so many people, it rose to the top on foreign headcount, with a foreign population of 399,000. On this measure Vaud shifted up into second place, with a foreign population of 270,000, followed by Geneva (202,000 foreigners), Bern (166,400 foreigners), and Aargau (165,800). Together these five cantons accounted for 56% of Switzerland’s non-Swiss population.