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The 21 stats that help explain Spain today

What's the life expectancy is in Spain? How many young Spaniards still live with their parents? What's the average income in Spain?

The 21 stats that help explain Spain today
Photo: lostation/Depositphotos

Look no further, as we have complied a list of the latest important figures from Spain’s national statistics office to reveal what Spain looks like, in numbers.

More than 46.6 million people live in Spain

According to INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadística) and Eurostat data from January 2018, Spain's population of 46,658,447 gives it the fourth highest population in the EU, behind the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and France. During 2017, Spain’s population grew by more than 125 thousand people, mainly due to the fact that more people arrived in the country than left.

Spain covers 505,944 kilometers squared

It is the second largest country in the European Union, behind France, but one of the least densely populated after Scandinavia, registering an average 92.2 people per square kilometer.

Photo: Depositphotos

Spain's population is ageing

Spain’s population is expected to shrink by 5.6 million in the next 50 years due to its ageing population. Only 14 percent of Spain’s population was aged between 10 and 24 in 2014.  

Credit: INE


9.5 percent of Spain’s population is foreign born.

There are 4,419,621 foreign-born residents in Spain, 31 percent of which come from South America, 32 percent from the rest of the EU, and 16 percent from Africa.

Credit: INE

Spain has the second lowest fertility rate in the European Union.

In 2017, Spain had the fourth lowest fertility rate in the EU at 1.31 children per woman, higher only than Malta (1.26). According to Eurostat, the average European fertility rate is 1.59 children per woman. A fertility rate of 2.0 is necessary to replace the current population.

The national birth-rate declined by 2.3 percent last year, and has decreased by 10.7% since 2008.

Spain's first time mothers are the oldest in Europe-

The average age at first birth is 30.9 in Spain, meaning that Spanish women choose to have children later than European women on average, as the EU average age at first birth is 29.1 years old. And 46.8 % of births are to unmarried women, up from only 33.2% in 2008.

Marriage rate is falling, except for same-sex couples

According to the INE, the number of registered marriages in the country decreased by 1 percent between 2017 and 2016, while the number of same-sex marriages, which accounted for 2.67 percent of total marriages in 2017, increased by 7.35 percent.

25.4 percent of households are single-person households

34.4 percent of households are made up of couples with children, 21.3 percent are couples without children and 10 percent are single-parent households.

The numbered of registered dogs, cats and rabbits in Spain has increased by 40 percent over the past 5 years.

There are now more pets in Spain than there are children under the age of 15, according to the Spanish Network for the Identification of Pets (REIAC). This revelation has been linked to the fact that more than two million people over the age of 65 live alone in Spain. 93 percent of registered pets are dogs.

Photo: Depositphotos

READ MORE: Why Spain now has 'more pets than children aged under 15'

80 percent of Spaniards under 30 still live alone with their parents

“Emancipation rate” decreased by 4.81 percent in the last 6 months of 2014, according to the Council for Youth in Spain (CJE), although women are more likely to leave home earlier than men. When young Spaniards do leave home, 84 percent of them share a home with other people.

Photo: AFP

Reasons for this trend include the fragility of the labour market and tough housing market conditions, while youth unemployment rate was around 40 percent in 2017, the highest in the EU after Greece. Youths also have difficulty finding permanent work, with 93 percent of contracts signed by young people in 2015 being temporary.

READ MORE: 80% of Spaniards under 30 still live at home with parents

Spain has the highest life expectancy at birth in the whole of Europe.

The Spanish life expectancy is 83.4 years old, whereas the EU figure is only 80.9. Women are expected to live up to 86.1 years, making them the group with the second highest life expectancy in the world, behind their Japanese counterparts. Spanish men are expected to live to 80.6 years old.

Photo: Diego López Román

READ MORE: Spain set to have longest life expectancy in the world

Spanish students tend to opt for STEM studies less than their European counterparts

In 2015, 22.4 thousand people in Spain between the ages of 20 and 29 years old graduated in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers, a figure lower than only those of Ireland and Finland in the rest of the EU.

Unemployment rate is 17.22 percent

Unemployment rates are at their lowest in the north, where most regions have unemployment rates under 15 percent, but the southern regions of Andalusia and Extremadura have unemployment rates above 25 percent.

Credit: INE

Nearly 54 percent of unemployed people have a first-stage secondary education or less, although there are more unemployed women with higher education than there are men with higher education.

Credit: INE

75.65 percent of employed people work in services.

Average income is €23,000 per year and income inequality is high

According to 2016 and 2017 data, from the Joint Employment Report by the European Commission, Spain has some of the worst conditions for income equality, along with Greece, Bulgaria and Lithuania. The richest 20 percent of households in the country receive an income share 6.5 percent times that of the poorest 20 percent, compared to the European average of 5.1 times.

READ MORE: Spain one of the worst EU countries for income inequality: report

Spain is the world leader in organ donation

In 2017, Spain broke its own record of  4,818 organ transplants per year to  5,259 transplants, according to data from the National Transplant Organization. 

It means that Spain saw 46.9 individual donors per million people (pmp) in 2017, an increase from 43.9 pmp in 2016 and 39.7  pmp in 2015, “much higher” than the EU average (19.6) and the US average (26.6).

READ MORE: How Spain became the world leader in organ transplants

46.4 percent of energy production comes from nuclear power

One of Spain's nuclear power stations Photo: Jesús Pérez Pacheco / Flickr

According to 2016 data from the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda, of energy production comes from 22.5 wind, solar and geothermal. 17.3 percent gross final energy consumption was renewable energy in 2016, which is around the European average.

Renewable energy sources represent 38.1 percent of total gross electricity production.

Spain has more pigs than people

Photo: AFP

In 2017 alone, the number of pigs slaughtered for pork products exceeded 50 million, 3.5 million more than the 46.5 million human population of Spain and with each person in Spain consuming an average of 5kg of jamon each year, it's easy to see why. 

23.1 percent of nights spent in hotels and similar establishments in the EU were in Spain

Non-residents spent around 217 million nights in hotels, hostels and campsites in Spain in 2016, the most nights in Europe, followed by Italy, France and Greece. The average stay is 3.7 nights per traveler and popular destinations included Teneride, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

Credit: INE

82.6 million foreign tourists came to Spain in 2018

The tourism industry is majorly important in Spain. According to data from Exceltur, it represented 11.8 percent of GDP last year.

READ MORE: Spain's tourism growth slows as rivals recover

Spaniards are becoming more active

The Survey of Sports Habits in Spain, 2015, indicated that the practice of sports is becoming more and more widespread, particularly amongst women. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of people practicing a sport each week increased by 9 percent.

Credit: INE

More than 150,000 hectares were affected by forest fires in 2017.

This is the highest surface area in the last 10 years. There were 56 large fires, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment. Almost three quarters of the affected area were in the Northwest of the Peninsula.

By Alice Huseyinoglu

Quiz: How well do you know your Spanish food?

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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.