Prague, March 22 (CTK) – A total of 493,400 foreigners lived in the Czech Republic in 2016, the highest number of history, with Ukrainians being the strongest group, followed by Slovaks and Vietnamese, the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) said on Thursday.

Ukrainians, Slovaks and Vietnamese made up more than a half of all foreigners in the country.

More than a half of foreigners were those with a permanent Czech residence. Another large group had a temporary residence, and 0.6 percent were the foreigners who were granted Czech asylum.

Foreigners made up 4.5 percent of Czech population of about 10.6 million. Their share is relatively low compared with other countries of the EU, in which the Czech Republic figures in the 19th position out of the 28 members.

In Germany, the EU country with the highest share of foreigners, they make up about 10 percent of the population.

The number of applicants for Czech asylum is also low, compared with the EU.

A total of 1,478 foreigners applied for Czech asylum in 2016, while more than one million applied all over the EU and 722,000 in Germany alone.

The ethnic structure of the seekers of Czech asylum differs from that elsewhere in the EU.

In the Czech Republic, the strongest applicant group are Ukrainians, who make up 34 percent of all asylum seekers, followed by Iraqis with 11 percent and Cubans with 6 percent.

In the EU, the strongest group of asylum seekers are Syrians (25 percent of all EU asylum seekers), followed by Afghans with 17 percent and Iraqis with 10 percent.

Immigrants most often head to the Czech Republic for economic reasons, CSU expert Dalibor Holy said.

As an example he gave Ukrainians, whose monthly income median in the Czech Republic is 21,300 crowns, while the average wage in Ukraine corresponds to 5000-6,000 crowns.

This motivation also influences the age structure of foreigners in the Czech Republic, most of whom are at the younger productive age between 30 and 40.

About 20 percent of the foreign inhabitants study in the Czech Republic. Most of them are Slovaks, who make up over a half of all foreign university students in the country. The other strong groups are Russians, Ukrainians and Kazakhs.

The number of Slovak students tends to slightly drop, while the number of students from post-Soviet countries has been rising. Foreign students are most interested in technical, economic and medical study programmes.

More than one third of foreigners, over 184,200, live in Prague. Their group is the second largest in the Central Bohemia Region (64,800), followed by South Moravia (43,000). The regions with the lowest number of foreign residents are Vysocina (8,400) and Zlin (8,800).