Berlin insights. Communities in the German Capital

As a home for people from over 200 countries, Berlin can call itself a cosmopolitan city. Are there community clusters in the German Capital?

by Peter Guthmann Published on:

When can a city be called international?

With a foreign population share of 10 percent, 20 percent or more? In Berlin, 53 percent of the population was not born here and almost 31 percent of the inhabitants are foreigners. As a home for people from more than 200 countries, Berlin can undoubtedly call itself a cosmopolitan city. In addition to many refugees, who have accounted for the lion's share of population growth over the past two to three years, there is also classical immigration from Germany and abroad. Even where there are no tourist streams running along the sightseeing axes, there is a colourful mixture of languages in the neighborhoods and inner city areas. Observers ask themselves whether their perception corresponds to reality: Are certain areas, districts or quarters in Berlin really favoured by certain nationalities or is this something that we only „feel“ Means: Are there clusters of nationalities emerging or is everything just "multi-cultural"? Let’s take a look at the statistics and try to identify if and – if yes - which communities have formed where in Berlin. According to the UN, currently more than 65 million people are fleeing due to geopolitical situations worldwide. Many of them seek shelter in Europe, many in Germany and subsequently also in Berlin. Let’s have a look at the top 10 nations represented in Berlin in 2016.

Top 10 nations Berlin 2016

  1. Turkey
  2. Poland
  3. Russia
  4. Italy
  5. Syria
  6. Bulgaria
  7. Lebanon
  8. Serbia
  9. USA
  10. Vietnam

„Berlinliyim“: The Turkish community

The Turkish community with 176,730 inhabitants is the unchallenged leader in the list of large communities in Berlin. Turkish citizens make up 4.81 percent of the population. Most of the inhabitants with a Turkish migrant background live in Wedding (36,340), Neukoelln (36,292) and Kreuzberg. In Neukölln, there is a concentration in the northern districts: Schillerpromenade, Silbersteinstraße, Flughafenstraße, Rollberg, Körnerpark, Glasower Straße and Reuterkiez. A concentration of inhabitants with Turkish migration background can also be seen in the Gropiusstadt Ost, the Buschkrugallee Nord quarter and along the Tempelhofer Weg. In the Brunnenstraße quarter in Wedding, about a quarter of the population is made up of the Turkish community; in Kreuzberg am Moritzplatz, 35.69 percent of the inhabitants have a Turkish migration background. The Turkish population group is one of the oldest migration groups in Berlin. According to official statistics, 3,274 Turks moved to Berlin in 2016. Most of them to Friedenau followed by Lichtenberg, Reinickendorf, Neukölln and Spandau. There is no significant increase in the inflow to Kreuzberg.

„Jestem berlińczykie“: The Polish Community

Unlike the Turkish community, the second largest group with a migration background, the Poles, has no spatial concentration on a few centres. Approximately 108,000 Polish inhabitants live in the city. The highest proportion within a neighbourhood is around 10 percent in the Huttenkiez and Jungfernheide districts. More than 13,400 Poles live in Mitte, with all its districts, and more than 13,000 in Neukölln and Tempelhof-Schöneberg, followed by Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Spandau. The highest concentration of immigrants can be observed in Lichtenberg (Herzbergstraße, Rüdigerstraße) and Spandau (Darbystraße, Adamstraße, Isenburger Weg).

„Их бин Берлинер“: Russia

With 53,753 inhabitants, the Russian community has three agglomeration areas: Marzahn-Hellersdorf with almost 8,000 Russian inhabitants, Lichtenberg with 7,000 and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf with 6,290. In Marzahn, Russian Berliners concentrate on the western rooms, Havemannstraße and Wuhletalstraße. In Lichtenberg on Fennpfuhl-West and -east as well as Gensinger Straße and Zoo. Immigration statistics from 2016 show a strengthening of the community in Charlottenburg. In addition, the registrations from 2016 show that new rooms are being built in central locations in Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain. Traditional locations in Marzahn seem to be losing their attractiveness for Russians who have moved in.

„Io sono un berlinese“: The Italian Community

More than 34,600 Italians are registered in Berlin, most of them within the S-Bahn ring. More than 5,000 Italians live in all districts of Berlin-Mitte. Concentrations can be observed in the quarters in Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Kreuzkölln. In Schöneberg, where the European School (primary school) with Italian branch is located, the residential areas south of Wittenbergplatz are very popular. Italians tend to move into their favourite quarters. 4,417 "New" Italians came to Berlin in 2016. The move was mainly to the trendy neighborhoods of Boxhagener Platz, Traveplatz and Samariterviertel and to the hip Neukölln.

„أنا برلينر“: Syria

The international refugee crisis has not triggered the issues of refugees, housing and urban change, but has put it back on the agenda. Almost countless people from crisis regions are seeking shelter in Europe, many of them in Germany and many in Berlin. According to a study by the UN, 65.6 million people worldwide were fleeing from war, displacement, misery and economic hardship in 2016. The development of cities will no longer be seen in national contexts only. The number of Syrians has almost doubled within a year. At the beginning of 2015, the number of Syrians was 11,500, at the end of the same year it was 18,000 and by December 2016 33,000 Syrians had been registered in Berlin. A Syrian community in Berlin cannot be ascertained in the context of the refugee problem and the Königstein key; in the long term, the formation of a community is likely. In 2016 a total of 13,500 Syrians were registered in Berlin. Syrians live scattered throughout the whole city, as refugees have a „residence obligation“.

„Аз съм Berliner“: The Bulgarian community

According to official figures, about 30,000 Bulgarians currently live in Berlin. More than a quarter of them are registered in Mitte, most of them in the Wedding districts Soldiner and Reinickendorfer Straße. There are further agglomerations in Nord-Neukölln and in the Lichtenberg urban areas of Weitlingstraße, Herzbergstraße and Rüdigerstraße as well as in the Reinickendorf districts of Letteplatz and Hausotterplatz. Last year, just under 5,500 Bulgarians registered a residence in Berlin, most of them in Wedding.

„أنا برلينر“: The Lebanese community

Lebanese residences are concentrated in the Berlin spatial structure in North Neukölln districts. Measured in terms of the total population, the highest proportion of inhabitants with Lebanese migrant background is registered (over 10 percent) around the Schulenburgpark. In Kreuzberg, agglomerations can be seen in the quarters Askanischer Platz, Mehringplatz, Moritzplatz and Wassertorplatz. Most Lebanese live in Wedding and Gesundbrunnen in the rooms Soldiner Straße, Humboldthain Nordwest and Brunnenstraße. In the 1980s, many Lebanese fled from the civil war in their home country to Bremen, Essen and Berlin. In Berlin, they moved to the better-priced quarters in Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Wedding. Like the Turkish community, the Lebanese in Berlin have retained their established structures in these areas to the present day. In 2016,1,162 Lebanese came to Berlin. The residences were chosen mainly in the Neuköllner, Weddinger and Kreuzberger areas where the Lebanese community is already located.

„Ја сам Берлинац“:The Serbian Community

Most Serbs in the German capital live in Neukölln. Concentrations are recognizable in Nordneukölln, especially in Rixdorf, in Soldiner Straße in Wedding and in Reinickendorfer Straße. In the big city East in the southern part of Neukölln and in Spandau, there are also metropolitan areas of inhabitants with a Serbian migration background. For the Serbians there is a cultural association in Neukölln: Serbian Culture and Sports Association e. V. Berlin in the Grenzallee with various cultural, sporting and social activities for families from ex-Yugoslavia. Many Serbs came to Germany and Berlin in 1998/99 as a consequence of the Kosovo war. Last year, just over 1900 new arrivals from Serbia were registered. The Charlottenburg Quartier Plötzensee was the place where most registrations were filed. Otherwise, a geographic concentration of arrivals from Serbia into certain zones was not apparent in 2016.

„I am Berliner“: The American Community

More than 26,000 residents from the United States are registered in Berlin. Approximately 16,000 were entitled to vote in the presidential election last year. Most Americans live in Steglitz-Zehlendorf. Here they are distributed throughout the Zehlendorf districts. Until 1994, Zehlendorf was the headquarters of the US military base, where thousands of American soldiers were stationed. Zehlendorf was known for the large American community that lived in a microcosm with its own infrastructural facilities, the "American Way of Life". These communities no longer exist. U. S. Americans are spread all over the city. The Kreuzberg's trendy districts, especially the Chamisso and Graefekiez districts, as well as central downtown locations in Mitte (including the Charité quarter, Invalidenstraße, Oranienburger Straße) and hip locations in Prenzlauer Berg are extremely popular. In Friedrichshain, the quarters Samariterviertel, Traveplatz and Boxhagener Platz are sought after by American residents. The Reuterkiez district is also popular with residents with a US background. 5,170 US-Americans moved to the German capital in 2016. The demand for apartments in Berlin's hip and trendy locations was particularly high. We receive strong demand from US customers. If you are planning to sell an apartment in Steglitz, a flat sale in Prenzlauer Berg or the sale of your apartment in Friedrichshain, you should contact us. We achieve excellent results because we operate most of our American customers through internal mailing lists.

„Tôi Berlin“: The e Vietnamese Community

There are 25,637 Vietnamese in Berlin. They are the largest East Asian community in the German Capital. The recorded residences are concentrated in East Berlin, more precisely in Lichtenberg and Marzahn. Former GDR contract workers, whose families followed after the fall of the Berlin Wall, now make up a large part of the Vietnamese community in Berlin. Today, most of the Berlin Vietnamese live in the Lichtenberg districts around Herzbergstraße. The Dong Xuan Center is located here, where more than 250 retailers from Vietnam, India, China and Pakistan have settled in the halls. In the Landsberger Allee district, 6.2 percent of the inhabitants have a Vietnamese migration background. In 2016, almost 1300 Vietnamese were registered in Berlin. A spatial concentration of the newcomers can only be observed in the Lichtenberg area of Rüdigerstraße and its neighboring quarters. Further agglomerations are not recognisable from the new arrivals.


In this blog post only the top 10 countries of origin of migrants in Berlin were considered. Immigration dynamics, which take place in the hip neighbourhoods of Berlin, was powered by high-income households from the Italian and American regions. The Top 10 study reveals differences in the socio-structural targets for immigrants in 2016:

Newcomers from Turkey are moving to more decentralised districts, although the Turkish community has been living in Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Wedding locations for decades. It can be assumed that the break-up of the urban agglomerations of the Turkish community, which have existed for generations, is to be seen in connection with the currently strained housing market in Berlin.
Similar things can be observed among the Russian population. In addition, a (probably income-based) divergence in the spatial distribution can be assumed. More high-income newcomers are oriented towards the community in Charlottenburg and open up new spaces in trend quarters.
The evaluation of the number of new arrivals and the visualisation of the existing agglomeration areas of Americans, Italians and Russians show the settlement in sought-after districts in which a higher price segment can be assumed for new rentals or real estate purchases.


  • Amt für Statistik Berlin Brandenburg (2016): Einwohnerinnen und Einwohner mit Migrationshintergrund am Ort der Hauptwohnung in Beriln, eigene Berechnungen
  • Amt für Statistik Berlin Brandenburg (2016): Berliner Wanderungszahlen, eigene Berechnungen