• Spain's news in English

Expat goodbyes bring down Spanish population

George Mills/The Local/AFP · 22 Apr 2013, 19:00

Published: 22 Apr 2013 19:00 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Spain's total registered population fell by 205,788 in the 12 months up to February 1st, new figures from the country's national statistics institute, the INE, reveal.

This was the first annual drop in Spain's population since 1996 and means that Spain's official population stood at 47,059,533 at the end of the 12 months in question.

While the number of native Spaniards grew last year by 10,337, the total number of foreigners living in the country fell by 3.8 percent, or 216,125, to 5.52 million.

The number of EU citizens living in Spain on February 1st was also down by almost the same amount, dropping 3.7 percent to 2,352,978. 

Percentages for British citizens were also in line with these figures.

During the period in question, some 14,799 British citizens left.

This saw the total number of Brits living in Spain fall 3.7 percent to 383,093.

"Anecdotally, our consulates do not detect a significant change in the British population," Simon Montague, Director of Communications for the British Embassy in Madrid told The Local.

"However, because British residents do not need visas or need to register with the Embassy, it is impossible to know the exact trend."

Montague told The Local that factors affecting where British people chose to live included unemployment levels, tax and VAT changes, and the impact of exchange rates on pension values. He added that the cost of living, house prices and property law issues also played a role.

"But there is no way of knowing which factors — and to what extent — these, and other factors may be influencing individual decisions," said the Embassy spokesperson. 

The latest INE figures present an interesting snapshot of Spain's foreign community.

In terms of general figures for EU citizens living in Spain, the Romanians are the largest group (863,635) and UK citizens come in second place with 380,093.

Italians are the third most numerous group with nearly 200,000 (192,147). This is almost unchanged from a year earlier.

Spain's German population, on the other hand, dropped by a steep 7.9 percent up in the year to February 1st to end at 196,878.

The total French population in Spain fell by a little over 4,000 to 121,637.

In terms of the age of foreign residents in Spain, the average age of British people living is Spain was 52, for Germans, this was 50.7 and for French people, this was 41.7.

Story continues below…

Meanwhile, the average age of Chinese people in Spain was 29.5 years.

For non-European Union citizens, the largest group was the Moroccans: there were 787,013 Moroccans registered as living in Spain in the period covered by the INE figures.

The communities with the highest percentage of foreigners were the Balearic Island (20.1 percent) and Valencia with 16.8 percent.

But the number of foreigners declined in all populations bar the African enclave of Melilla where numbers were up 1,331. 

Traditionally a nation that sent immigrants abroad, Spain saw the number of foreigners living within its borders take off from around half a million in 1996 to around five million in 2006 as a labour-intensive building boom lured low-skilled workers from abroad.

But the flow of immigration to the country has slowed since Spain entered into its worst recession in decades at the end of 2008 as the global credit crisis hastened a correction already underway in its key property sector.

George Mills/The Local/AFP (george.mills@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Man attacked by racist thug in UK street for talking Spanish

Tomas Gil, 27, from Valencia in eastern Spain was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

Malaga: Police probe bizarre 'sex death' of homeless Brit
The man was found near Malaga airport. Photo: Dennis Howlett / Flickr

A British homeless man was found dead tied to a bench near Malaga airport with his trousers down and his genitals in a can of tuna.

Clock ticking as Spain races to avoid third elections
Third elections could now be avoided. Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists voted on Sunday to allow the conservatives to take power, likely averting a third election for Spaniards tired of going to the polls.

Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain's Socialists lift veto on Rajoy to break deadlock
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available