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Spain sees steep fall in number of new citizens

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Spain sees steep fall in number of new citizens
Photo of Spanish passport: Shutterstock
16:23 CET+01:00
The number of foreigners taking out Spanish citizenship fell by nearly a fifth from 2011 to 2012, bucking Europe-wide trends, official figures released on Tuesday show.

Spain granted citizenship to 94,100 foreigners in 2012, down 17.8 percent on 2011 figures when 114,600 people took up citizenship in the country, new figures from the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat show.

By contrast, the EU as a whole saw a 4.8 percent rise in the same period.

This drop reflects Spain's decreasing popularity as a destination for immigration during the country's long economic crisis, with many foreigners choosing to head home in the context of soaring unemployment — currently at 23.7 percent.

Only 1.5 percent of Spain's new citizens were from other EU member states, while nearly a third were from Ecuador, 17.1 percent were from Colombia, ten percent were Moroccans and Peruvians made up nine percent. 

The Eurostat figures show that new citizens in Spain made up 11.5 percent of the EU total in 2012 behind the UK (23.7), Germany (14.0) and France (11.7).

The statistics also show Spanish citizenship was acquired by two people per 1,000 inhabitants, above the regional average of 1.6.

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