At the beginning of 2017 there were 94,888 residents with foreign background in Helsinki. 83 per cent of them had been born abroad and 17 per cent in Finland. Almost half of those with foreign background had a background in Europe, one in four in Asia or Oceania and one in five in Africa. Compared to the rest of the country, there are more people with an African background and fewer people with a European non-EU background in Helsinki. In Helsinki the most common background countries were the former Soviet Union (17,653 people), Estonia (12,975), Somalia (9,450), Iraq (4,411) and China (3,200).

The first generation immigrants (those born abroad) most commonly had a background in some other EU country. 28 per cent of the first generation had an EU background compared with only 14 per cent of the second generation (those born in Finland). The share of people with an African background was much higher in the second generation. More than one third of those born in Finland had a background in Africa.

Immigration is still a relatively new phenomenon in Finland: The majority of Helsinki residents born abroad have migrated to Finland less than 10 years ago. Nonetheless, more than one fourth of those born in Europe or Africa have lived in Finland for over 15 years.