A total of 721,000 foreigners immigrated to the country in 2009, up 39,000 from the previous year, the German Statistics Office (Destatis) reported on Wednesday. It was also the first time the numbers of immigrants topped 700,000 since 2005.
Main countries of origin were Poland (123,000), Romania (56,000), the United States (30,000), Turkey (30,000) und Bulgaria (29,000).
The highest number of immigrants, 146,000, moved to the most populous state in Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia. The other two most popular states were southern Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, which each gained 122,000 new residents from abroad.
Among those who immigrated, 606,000 were considered to be foreign – an increase of six percent from 2008. About 58 percent of these people were from other European Union countries.
The rest of the immigrants, numbering 115,000, were returning ethnic Germans. Their numbers were also shown to rise by some 6,000 from the previous year, Destatis reported.
However, despite the increase, the number of immigrants did not make up for those leaving the country. In 2009, about 734,000 people left Germany – creating a deficit of 13,000. Their main destinations were Poland, Romania, Turkey, the United States and Switzerland.
Destatis stressed that migration numbers reveal no background on the motivations behind the figures. The statistics also can’t explain whether a person’s move was permanent or not, the office said.