Immigrants to push Netherlands population over 17 million
The Netherlands' population grew by about 79 thousand people to a total of 16.9 million inhabitants last year. The growth is largely due to immigration - many refugees and migrant workers made the Netherlands their home in 2015, according to Statistics Netherlands. Statistics Netherlands expects that immigration will increase further this year, pushing the population over the 17 million border.
Some 203 thousand immigrants came into the Netherlands last year, nearly 20 thousand more than in 2014. Immigrants may register as part of the population when they are granted a residency permit, or when they have been living in an asylum center for at least six months. Last year 21 thousand Syrians, 3 thousand Eritreans and 2 thousand Ethiopians were added to the Netherlands' population. Most immigrants came from Poland, but many poles also left the country.
Approximately 146 thousand people emigrated from the Netherlands, about the same number as previous years. That means the total people added to the population through migration was 57 thousand - immigration minus emigration.
A remarkably high number of people died in 2015, about 147 thousand. Deaths were especially high in the first half of the year, when there was a long flu epidemic. In addition to that, few babies were born, almost 170 thousand. That means the population grew by around 22 thousand people through natural growth - births minus deaths - the lowest level since 1871.
Asylum seekers still in the midst of their asylum process do not count for the population. According to the statistics office, more than 43 thousand people applied for asylum in the Netherlands last year and almost 14 thousand came over to join a family member.