Spain’s population now stands at 46,815,916 inhabitants, which is nearly six million more than a decade ago. In other words, the population of Spain has grown by 14.6% since 2001, when the National Statistics Institute carried out the last population and housing census.
The Institute noted that “if we take into consideration information from other censuses, never has there been, in a decade, as high an increase in population in absolute or relative terms.”
The boom in immigration is behind this increase in population, as in 2001 there were 1,572,013 foreigners living in Spain, whereas now they total 5,252,473, i.e. there has been an increase of 234%.
The new census, conducted in 2011, was published on Friday morning, with the unique difference that they have ceased going from door-to-door counting citizens one-by-one. Instead the Institute has chosen a sample of 11% of the population: two million homes, which is equivalent to 5.4 million people. According to the government agency run under the Ministry of Economy, the sample is sufficient to account for the population.
The Institute said that “the increase in the Spanish population has been much less pronounced in relative terms than that of the foreign population” rising from just over 39 million people in 2001 to just over 41 and a half million.
The reasons are threefold: increased life expectancy since then, the increase in the birth rate (especially in 2005-2009), and the fact that many foreigners have acquired Spanish citizenship, they explained.
The census data also shows the demographic picture, divided between 19.1 million men and 20 million women. In these last 10 years, the number of males has grown more (15% versus 13%).
The regions where the population has increased most are the islands (the Balearics has grown 30% and the Canaries by 23%) and the Levant (Murcia, 22% and Valencia, 20%). The population grew least in the northwest of the country, most notably in Asturias (1%) and Galicia (2.9%).
Guadalajara was the fastest growing province (+47%), followed by Gerona and Tarragona. Only four provinces saw a decrease in population: Zamora, Ourense, Lugo and Palencia.
Regarding the foreign population, the Institute highlighted the increase in Romanians and Moroccans in absolute terms, and Paraguayans, Bolivians and Romanians, in relative terms. In 2001, for instance, there were 57,533 Romanians in Spain. Today there are 798,104. This means that, since then, there has been an increase of 1,287%.
The Bolivian population has increased by 1,523%, and the Paraguayans, who were a thousand a decade ago, today are 121,741, i.e. their numbers have increased by 6,836%.
In regions such as the Balearic Islands, Murcia, Valencia and Catalonia, the percentage of foreigners, with respect to the population of their region, exceeds 15%.
El Mundo reported that the municipality with most foreigners is Rojales (Alicante), with 72% of its population foreign. In contrast, with least foreign population is Ubrique (Cádiz), with less than 1% coming from outside.
The Institute stressed that the population is “ageing” and that the massive influx of foreigners (mostly younger than the Spanish) has not prevented, in this decade, the average age increasing by 1.5 years.
The census showed there are more people between 40 and 64 years and less between 16 to 39 years, resulting in a “slight” increase in the dependency ratio, which is the ratio between the non-active population and people of working age. For every non-active person, there are almost two of working age.
The region with the oldest population is Asturias, with an average age of 46, and the region with the youngest is Melilla, with an average age of 34 years. However, the Canary Islands is the region whose population has aged most in the last decade, followed by Galicia, Extremadura and Asturias.
The National Statistics Institute said that the youngest foreigners are the Asians and Africans, compared with the average ages of the Europeans, which are “much higher”. The Swiss, with an average age of nearly 56 years, are the oldest, followed closely by the Norwegians.