(archive picture shows the Chinese Spring Festival) Nicolas Maeterlinck

1 in 8 Flemings have a non-European background: five-fold rise since 1990

12.7 percent of the people living in Flanders hail from outside Europe, figures from the Flemish data bank show. De Tijd reports about the statistic today. The figure is 5 times that of 1990, when it was at just 2.5 percent. 

De Tijd took into account people from outside Europe (who come from Asia, Africa, Latin-America etc.) but also people whose parents (or one of the parents) has or had a non-European background. 

The rise can be seen in the whole of Flanders, but especially in the cities. In Antwerp, for example, the number of residents from outside Europe rose from 8.3 percent in 1990 to 36.5 percent now. In other major cities, the average figure climbed to 20.2 percent, coming from 4.2 percent 29 years ago.

While the figures are still much lower in the countryside in absolute figures, the increase is just as high in relative figures: from 1 to 5 percent, a five-fold increase.

This may have big consequences: "In the Dender area (Aalst, Denderleeuw etc.) in East Flanders a big community of immigrants was created in a short time, while this region didn't have many immigrants in the past. Nobody was well-preapred, which led to strong wins for the (far-right) Vlaams Belang in the last elections", Patrick Deboosere of the VUB told De Tijd.