Four per cent of Norwegian population has refugee background


A total of 199 400 persons with a refugee background were living in Norway on 1 January 2016.

This corresponds to 3.8 per cent of the total population, and 29 per cent of immigrants in Norway. Somalia is the largest group followed by Iraq and Eritrea.

In 2015, the number of persons with a refugee background increased by 11 300. Persons with a Syrian background had the strongest growth, with an increase of 4 200.

Three out of four are principal applicants
A total of 146 000 persons with a refugee background were registered as principal applicants as of 1 January 2016, while 37 400 immigrated through family reunification with a refugee. A total of 15 900 immigrated for family establishment through marriage. Persons with a refugee background in Norway have backgrounds from 169 different countries and independent regions. The three largest groups with a refugee background are from Somalia (27 300), Iraq (20 600) and Eritrea (16 900).

Among the 146 000 people registered as principal applicants, 97 400 are registered as former asylum seekers who have been granted a residence permit, 30 200 are resettlement refugees, and around 18 400 are registered as other or unspecified grounds. The latter category is made up of refugees and families from Bosnia and Herzegovina who were granted a collective assessment in the early 1990s.

Most immigrants in Norway do not have a refugee background. Find out more in our statistics on reasons for immigration.

Many family immigrants from Sri Lanka, Somalia and Iraq
Among the major groups with a refugee background, Sri Lanka stands out with the highest proportion of family immigrants to principal applicant, with 43 per cent. Somalia and Iraq also have a significant proportion of family immigrants, with 39 and 36 per cent respectively.

More than 9 000 residents with refugee background from Syria
The number of persons with a refugee background from Syria saw a significant increase. As of 1 January 2016, 9 100 persons with a refugee background were registered as resident in Norway, while the corresponding figure for the previous year was 4 900. Syrians are now the eighth largest group with a refugee background in Norway. Most of them have a short duration of stay in Norway, with eight out of ten having lived in the country for less than three years. Around 28 per cent of Syrians are children.

In almost all municipalities
There were persons with a refugee background in 416 of the country’s 428 municipalities. In 34 of these municipalities, more than 1 000 persons had a refugee background. Oslo had the most residents with a refugee background with 46 600, followed by Bergen (10 300) and Trondheim (6 800).

Persons with a refugee background constituted 7 per cent of the capital’s entire population, but the highest share of persons with a refugee background as of 1 January 2016 was in Vadsø municipality, where this group made up 11 per cent of the population.

Source: SSB / Norway Today