Brno On Its Way To Becoming A Cosmopolitan City As Foreign Population Continues Increasing

New data published by the City of Brno breaks down the increasing population of foreign residents by nationality and district, while yet more insights can be gained from Labour Office statistics. Photo credit: KB / Brno Daily.

Brno, Apr 5 (BD) – The number of foreign residents is continuing to increase in Brno, as in the rest of the Czech Republic, driven by a combination of the increasing number of international companies, free movement within the European Union, and Brno’s character as a university city. New analysis released by the City of Brno adds some detail and context to this continuing trend.

How to count foreign residents

Currently, there are more than 65,000 registered foreign residents of the city of Brno, according to monthly data from the Czech Interior Ministry. This figure is the total number of foreigners with either permanent or temporary residence. Slovak citizens have a special status, as they are foreign nationals, but most of them do not have to register with the authorities in the Czech Republic for residence. However, some of them have registered for permanent residence in Brno and therefore appear in the statistics; according to the Interior Ministry, this applies to just under 8,500 people. Due to the interconnectedness of the Czech and Slovak nations, however, the City of Brno’s analysis does not include Slovak residents as foreigners. 

Meanwhile, a significant number of Brno’s foreign residents are EU citizens with employment contracts, who do not need to be registered for residence and are therefore not reflected in the statistics. As a result, the exact number of foreigners in Brno cannot be known. However, the city’s data sheds some light on the situation, especially on growth dynamics. The growth of Brno’s foreign population increased notably after 2015, probably because companies were looking abroad for employees due to the very low unemployment rate in the Czech Republic. Growth in the foreign population in the Brno-Venkov district outside the city, for example, is growing far less quickly.

The City of Brno’s intercultural workers welcome new arrivals to the city. Photo credit: Brno City Municipality.

Growth dynamics

The data shows that the number of foreigners in Brno is related to the economic growth of the city and the region. In 2011, when the economy was affected by the global economic crisis, the number of foreigners in Brno even decreased. In the following years, the trend has reversed, and the number of foreigners is now approaching 70,000.

The increasing number of foreigners is also related to the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Since this started in February 2022, Brno has seen more than 20,000 new registered residents from Ukraine.

The result is that in 2023, almost one in every five inhabitants of the city comes from abroad, with citizens of nearly 150 countries currently registered as residents of Brno. Leaving out Slovaks for the reasons mentioned above, the largest number by far are from Ukraine, which has almost 34,000 inhabitants in Brno, followed by Vietnamese and Russians. Citizens of Romania, India, Bulgaria, Turkey and Kazakhstan are also significantly represented in the statistics. One striking phenomenon in the data is the rapid increase of Filipino people in Brno, who almost doubled in number in 2022, to 638 people.

Nationals of over 150 countries are registered as residents of Brno. Credit: Brno City Municipality.

Unsurprisingly, most foreigners are registered as residents in the Brno-střed district, followed by Brno-sever and Královo Pole, all of these large urban areas. Recalculated as a proportion of the district population, the districts with the highest foreign resident population are Brno-jih and Slatina, where foreigners make up almost 40% of the population, mainly due to the presence of large-capacity hostels.

Significant shares are also seen in Královo Pole and Černovice, the latter due to the large Vietnamese community.

Foreigners in the labour market

Further information comes from data released by the Czech Labour Office. As of January 2023, almost 60,000 foreigners were registered at the contact offices of the Labour Office in Brno, and a further 5,500 were registered by the Trade Office. In total, there are therefore over 65,000 foreign workers in the labour market in Brno, mostly from elsewhere in the EU or from countries where a permit is not required to access the labour market.

Across South Moravia, there are more than 100,000 foreign workers, a figure which has more than tripled in the last 15 years, due in part to greater interconnection of economies, entry into the EU and globalisation trends. At the same time, a connection can also be found with the overall situation on the labour market, which is marked by long-term very low unemployment, both in Brno and in the whole of the Czech Republic.

The predominant group of foreign workers in South Moravia are again citizens of Slovakia, due to geographical proximity, the absence of a language barrier and relatively good transport links that enable Slovaks to find employment in most areas of the labour market. Slovaks represent approximately 38% of the foreigners registered by the South Moravian Labour Office. Citizens of Ukraine make up the second largest group, currently at approximately 30% but growing significantly.

Based on this data, it is clear that Brno is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for foreigners to live and work. For example, at IBM, the largest private employer in Brno, foreigners make up a third of all its employees. The structure of the foreign community in Brno is relatively diverse, both in terms of nationality and education, leading to the conclusion that Brno is now a cosmopolitan city.

If the current situation or another major economic or political change does not significantly affect the life of the city, we can also expect an increase in the number of foreigners in the future. This corresponds to the long-term vision of the city set out in the #brno2050 strategy, which imagines Brno as an international city, welcoming diversity and open to people from different countries.

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