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Where do all the English speakers live in Spain?

How many English-speaking folk live in Spain and where all they all? Here's what you need to know about where all the Australians, Canadians, Irish, Brits, Indians, New Zealanders, South Africans and Americans live in Spain.

Where do all the English speakers live in Spain?
Photo: lostation/Depositphotos

Spain grows ever more popular with tourists every year with a record-breaking number of visitors to its shores in 2017 – 81.8 million in 2017 according to statistics from the World Tourism Organization – but after enjoying the sun, sea and sangria most head back home.

But how many foreigners actually choose to put down roots in Spanish soil and make Spain their permanent home?

If you take a trip to parts of the Costa Blanca or Costa del Sol it may seem as if it some towns are entirely populated by English-speaking communities but the official statistics provide a different story.

Spain is home to 46.5 million people and counts just over 10 percent of its population (4.7 million) as foreigners, with the top three nationalities in terms of size of population being Moroccan, Romanian and Chinese.

In fact native English speakers only represent around 7 percent of all the foreign-born residents in Spain. Brits may account for a sizeable proportion of that group but included in the community are Americans, Canadians, Irish, South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders and Indians.

The data is collected by Spain’s National Statistics Office (INE) from those registered on the padron, so it comes with a massive caveat, as despite the fact that being ‘empadronado’ allows you access to local services, many expats (and we use that term hesitantly) fail to register with the town hall.

Add to that the fact that many visitors only spend part of their year here, either owning holiday homes or escaping the dark northern winters of their home country for a place in the winter sun.

Valencia is the most popular region to live

Benidorm has the largest concentration of Brits in Spain. Photo: AFP

It will come as no surprise to learn that Benidorm IS the most concentrated population of native-English speaking residents. 

The coastal resort is the epicentre of English speaking residents and forms part of a cluster of towns on the Costa Blanca where English-speakers  – mostly Brits – call home. It is home to 2,222 Brits, which represents 3.4 percent of the total number of population.

In all, the Alicante province has the largest number of British residents in Spain. 67,000 are registered on the padron, meaning they make up the 3.4 percent of the province’s total population.  

The region of Valencia has a total of 75,700 registered British residents but it also has 6,385 Indians, 2,720 Americans, 2,700 Irish, 505 Canadians, 293 Australians, 139 South Africans, and 96 New Zealanders.

Andalusia comes a close second

After the region of Valencia, the southern region of Andalusia is the most popular with Anglophones, more specifically the coastal stretches around Almeria and Malaga’s Costa del Sol.

Those English speakers registered as permanent residents in the region number 87,000 of whom almost 75,000 are originally from Britain.

The native-English speaking community in Andalusia is completed by 5,800 Americans, 3,500 Irish, 2,060 Indians, 762 Canadians, 382 Australians, 246 South Africans and 89 Kiwis.

Catalonia takes third place

Photo: AFP

Of those drawn to settling down in Catalonia, the city of Barcelona is by far the favourite destination.

Around 19,200 native English speakers have made their home in the Catalan’s capital. UK has the biggest representation in Barcelona, as there are more than 7,000 of them living in the city of La Sagrada Familia and Las Ramblas.

Catalonia is also home to 23,000 Indians, 13,500 Brits, almost 8,000 Americans, 2,000 Irish, 1,200 Canadians, 700 Australians, 300 South Africans and 180 New Zealanders.

Canary Islands prove popular

With year-round sunshine and gorgeous beaches, it’s no wonder so many foreigners are attracted to island life. 31,800 English-speaking foreigners to be exact and, yet again, the Brits make up the biggest part of the Anglophone community.

There are 25,000 Brits registered on the padron across the islands, while the remainder of the English-speaking community is made up of 3,600 Indians, 1,800 Irish, 950 Americans, 180 Canadians, 80 South Africans, 100 Australians and just 12 Kiwis.

Madrid is a favourite with Americans

Photo: Depositphotos

Spain’s capital is registered as home to 22,793 English natives and, for a change, Brits don’t make up the largest group of them.

In fact, Americans are the predominant English-speakers in the capital – all those young classroom assistants on the bilingual teaching programme boost numbers – with 10,000 visitors from across the pond choosing to make Madrid their home.

READ ALSO: The Ultimate A to Z Guide to Teaching English in Spain

Brits come in a close second with 9,500 registered on the padron, followed by 2,500 Indians, 1,600 Irish, 800 Canadians, 430 Australians and 100 Kiwis.

Balearic Islands

The Balearic islands are known around the world for the laidback island lifestyle, paradise beaches and party resorts. 

It is also one of the favourite regions in Spain for native English speakers to set up residence.

In fact, more than 17,000 of them once decided to switch their residence to Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca. Brits are the biggest Anglophone community in the islands, as there are 14,000 of them registered as living there.

Where can I be the only English speaker in the village?

Photo: AFP

If you have left your nation of birth to get away from fellow countrymen and embrace Spain and the Spanish way of life, then you probably ought to head to Extramadura or La Rioja, the two regions where the fewest English-speaking expats live.

Extremadura hosts barely 766 native English speakers while La Rioja is the least popular region with just 420 Anglophones registered.

Both regions lack coastal zones and do not stand out for their job opportunities, although if you love either jamon or vino and hate speaking English it could be the perfect spot for you!

Interactive map of Spain's native English speakers

Top 10 provinces by size of Anglophone population (British, Indians Americans, Canadians, Irish, South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders):

Alicante: 73,466

Málaga: 52,780

Barcelona: 40,449

Madrid: 25,272

Balearic Islands: 19,497

Las Palmas: 16,385

Murcia: 16,096

Santa Cruz de Tenerife: 15,490

Almería: 15,045

Valencia: 13,552

Data from INE valid on October 1st 2018

READ ALSO: These are the 17 absolute worst things about living in Spain


Rampant branch closures and job cuts help Spain’s banks post huge earnings

Spain’s biggest banks this week reported huge profits in 2021 and cheered their return to recovery post-Covid, but ruthless cost-cutting in the form of thousands of layoffs, hundreds of branch closures and the removal of many ATMs have left customers in Spain suffering, in this latest example of ‘Capitalismo 2.0’. 

A man withdraws cash from a Santander branch in Madrid.
More than 3,500 Santander workers lost their jobs in Spain in 2021 and a further 2,000 more employees working for Santander across Europe were also laid off. Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Spanish banking giant Santander on Wednesday said it has bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-COVID earnings.

Likewise, Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA said on Thursday that it saw a strong rebound in 2021 following the Covid crisis, tripling its net profits thanks to a recovery in business activity.

It’s a similar story for Unicaja (€137 million profit in 2021), Caixabank (€5.2 billion profit thanks to merge with Bankia), Sabadell (€530 million profit last year), Abanca (€323 million profit) and all of Spain’s other main banks.

This may be promising news for Spain’s banking sector, but their profits have come at a cost for many of their employees and customers. 

In 2021, 19,000 bank employees lost their jobs, almost all through state-approved ERE layoffs, meant for companies struggling financially.

BBVA employees protest against layoffs in May 2021 in Madrid. Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous”. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Around 11 percent of bank branches in Spain have also been closed down in 2021 as part of Spanish banks’ attempts to cut costs, even though they’ve agreed to pay just under €5 billion in compensation.

Rampant branch closures have in turn resulted in 2,200 ATMs being removed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even though the use of cajeros automáticos went up by 20 percent in 2021.

There are now 48,300 ATMs in Spain, levels not seen since 2001.


Apart from losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, Spain’s financial institutions have justified the lay-offs, branch closures and ATM removals under the premise that there was already a shift to online banking taking place among customers. 

But the problem has been around for longer in a country with stark population differences between the cities and so-called ‘Empty Spain’, with rural communities and elderly people bearing the brunt of it. 


Caixabank laid off almost 6,500 workers in the first sixth months of 2021. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

Just this month, a 78-year-old Valencian man has than collected 400,000+ signatures in an online petition calling for Spanish banks to offer face-to-face customer service that’s “humane” to elderly people, spurring the Bank of Spain and even Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to publicly say they would address the problem.

READ MORE: ‘I’m old, not stupid’ – How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

It’s worth noting that between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest number of branch closures and bank job cuts in Europe, with 48 percent of its branches shuttered compared with a bloc-wide average of 31 percent.

Below is more detailed information on how Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks, have reported their huge profits in 2021.


Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of €8.1 billion in 2021, close to a 12-year high. 

It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of €8.7 billion after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK. It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of €6.5 billion.

Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of €7.9 billion. 

“Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in 2019,” said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.

Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching €33.4 billion, compared to €31.9 billion in 2020. This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customer numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide. 

“We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone,” said Botin.

Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020. In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even “quadrupled” over the same period to €1.6 billion.

Last year’s net loss was the first in Banco Santander’s history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of COVID.

The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of €1.7 billion for its 2021 results. “In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results,” it said.


The group, which mainly operates in Spain but also in Latin America, Mexico and Turkey, posted profits of €4.65 billion ($5.25 billion), up from €1.3 billion a year earlier.

The result, which followed a solid fourth quarter with profits of €1.34 billion, was higher than expected, with FactSet analysts expecting a figure of €4.32 billion .

Excluding non-recurring items, such as the outcome of a restructuring plan launched last year, it generated profits of 5.07 billion euros in what was the highest figure “in 10 years”, the bank said in a statement.

In 2020, the Spanish bank saw its net profit tumble 63 percent as a result of asset depreciation and provisions taken against an increase in bad loans due to the economic fallout of the virus crisis.

“The economic recovery over the past year has brought with it a marked upturn in banking activity, mainly in the loan portfolio,” the bank explained, pointing to a reduction of the provisions put in place because of Covid.

In 2021, BBVA added a “record” 8.7 million new customers, largely due to the growth of its online activities. It now has 81.7 million customers worldwide.

The group’s net interest margins also rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to €14.7 billion, said the bank, which is undergoing a cost-cutting drive.

So far, it has axed 2,935 jobs and closed down 480 branches as the banking sector undergoes increasing digitalisation and fewer and fewer transactions are carried out over the counter.

At the end of 2020, BBVA sold its US unit to PNC Financial Services for nearly 10 billion euros and decided to reinvest some of the funds in the Turkish market.

In November, it launched a bid to take full control of its Turkish lending subsidiary Garanti, offering €2.25 billion ($2.6 billion) to buy the 50.15 percent stake it does not yet own.

The deal should be finalised in the first quarter of 2022.