Demographics of Spain
As of 1 January 2020, Spain had a total population of 47,431,256, which represents a 0.9% increase since 2019. The CIA Factbook (2011) gives a racial description of "composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types" under "ethnic groups" instead of the usual breakdown of ethnic composition. This reflects the formation of the modern Kingdom of Spain by the accretion of several independent Iberian realms, like León, Castile, Navarre, the Crown of Aragon, and Granada, among others.
Spain's population peaked in 2019, surpassing for the first time in history 47 million inhabitants. As of January 2020, there were already 47,431,256 people living in Spain. Its population density, at 91.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (237/sq mi), is lower than that of most Western European countries. With the exception of the capital Madrid, the most densely populated areas lie around the coast.
The population of Spain doubled during the twentieth century, but the pattern of growth was extremely uneven due to large-scale internal migration from the rural interior to the industrial cities, a phenomenon which happened later than in other Western European countries. No fewer than eleven of Spain's fifty provinces saw an absolute decline in population over the century.
The last quarter of the century saw a dramatic fall in birth rates. Spain's fertility rate of 1.47 (the number of children the average woman will have during her lifetime) is lower than the EU average, but has climbed every year since the late 1990s. The birth rate has climbed in 10 years from 9.10 births per 1000 people per year in 1996 to 10.9 in 2006.
Immigration and Demographic Issues
The population of Spain doubled during the twentieth century as a result of the spectacular demographic boom in the 1960s and early 1970s. After that time, the birth rate plunged through the 1980s and Spain's population became stalled, its demographics showing one of the lowest sub replacement fertility rates in the world, only above Greece, Portugal, Hungary, Ukraine, and Japan.
Many demographers have linked Spain's very low fertility rate to the country's lack of any real family planning policy. Spain spends the least on family support out of all western European countries—0.5% of GDP. A graphic illustration of the enormous social gulf in this field is the fact that a Spanish family would need to have 57 children to enjoy the same financial support as a family with 3 children in Luxembourg.
In terms of emigration vs. immigration, after centuries of net emigration, Spain, has recently experienced large-scale immigration for the first time in modern history. According to the Spanish government there were 5,730,667 foreign residents in Spain as of January 2011. Of these, more than 860,000 were Romanian, and half 760,000 were Moroccan while the number of Ecuadorians was around 390,000. Colombian population amounted to around 300,000. There are also a significant number of British (359,076 as of 2011, but more than one million are estimated to live permanently in Spain) and German (195,842) citizens, mainly in Alicante, Málaga provinces, Balearic Islands and Canary Islands. Chinese number over 166,000. Immigrants from several sub-Saharan African countries have also settled in Spain as contract workers, although they represent only 4.08% of all the foreign residents in the country.
During the early 2000s, the mean year-on-year demographic growth set a new record with its 2003 peak variation of 2.1%, doubling the previous record reached back in the 1960s when a mean year-on-year growth of 1% was experienced. In 2005 alone, the immigrant population of Spain increased by 700,000 people.
Notable events in modern Spanish demography:
- Late 19th century and early 20th century: Relative economic stagnation and mass emigration to American countries.
- 1918. Flu pandemic, over 200,000 dead in Spain.
- 1936. Start of the Spanish Civil War.
- 1939. End of the Civil War. Establishment of a Fascist dictatorship, Start of rationing policies. Deepening of economic depression, mass emigration to European and American countries due to economic and political motives (Republican exile).
- 1941. Approval of benefits for large families, with at least four children.
- 1945. Establishment of tax deductions for parents.
- 1952. End of rationing policies.
- 1975. End of the dictatorship, mass return of emigrated people.
- 1977. Legalization of contraception. Decline of birth rates.
- 1985. Legalization of abortion.
- 1988. As Spain became a developed country, the first events of illegal immigration from Africa occur.
- 1991. Spain becomes a net receiver of immigrants, after decades of mass emigration.
- 1994. Lowering of threshold of requirements to become a large family, only three children needed.
- 2007. Approval of €2,500 benefit for births.
- 2010. Legalization of abortion on demand.
- 2011. Withdrawal of the €2,500 benefit for births.
- 2015. First negative natural change since the Civil War due to the aging of Spanish population.
Life expectancy from 1882 to 2015
|Life expectancy in Spain||29.5||32.1||34.8||41.3||41.0||40.8||39.7||43.4||42.5||42.8||43.0||42.9||42.5||30.3||41.1||39.2|
|Life expectancy in Spain||42.0||44.1||44.7||46.2||46.9||47.7||48.4||48.6||49.3||49.3|
|Life expectancy in Spain||49.2||51.1||51.5||52.3||52.6||51.0||47.3||47.6||47.2||48.4|
|Life expectancy in Spain||47.2||52.5||54.8||56.2||57.8||57.5||59.3||61.2||61.0||61.8|
|Period||Life expectancy in
|Period||Life expectancy in|
Source: UN World Population Prospects
Total Fertility Rate from 1850 to 1899
|Total Fertility Rate in Spain||5.13||5.07||5.01||4.95||4.89||4.83||4.78||4.72||4.66||4.75||4.86|
|Total Fertility Rate in Spain||5.16||5.09||5||5.19||5.11||5.07||5.09||4.72||4.9||4.84|
|Total Fertility Rate in Spain||4.83||4.83||4.82||4.81||4.8||4.79||4.78||4.78||4.74||4.7|
|Total Fertility Rate in Spain||4.91||4.79||4.71||4.86||4.8||4.86||4.78||4.82||4.82||4.55|
|Total Fertility Rate in Spain||4.67||4.71||4.71||4.6||4.63||4.75||4.51||4.41||4.53|
Statistics since 1900
|||Average population||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1000)||Crude death rate (per 1000)||Natural change (per 1000)||Total fertility rates[fn 1]|
† = as of 1 January 2019 and 2020.
Current vital statistics
- Births January–June 2018 = 181,366
- Births January–June 2019 = 170,074
- Deaths January–June 2018 = 227,786
- Deaths January–June 2019 = 215,478
- Natural increase January–June 2018 = -46,420
- Natural increase January–June 2019 = -45,404
In 2018 293,118 (79.4%) babies were born to mothers with Spanish nationality, 27,528 (7.4%) to mothers with an African nationality (including North Africa), 22,504 (6.1%) to mothers with a European nationality (both EU and non-EU countries of Europe), 19,309 (5.2%) to mothers with an American nationality (both North and South America) and 6,717 (1.8%) to mothers with an Asian nationality.
Other demographic statistics
The following demographic statistics are from the World Population Review in 2019.
- One birth every minute
- One death every minute
- Net gain of one person every 131 minutes
- One net migrant every 13 minutes
- 46.723 million (Jan 2018 est.)
- Age structure
15.29% (male 3,879,229 /female 3,664,016)
15-24 years: 9.65% (male 2,458,486 /female 2,299,523)
25-54 years: 44.54% (male 11,208,598 /female 10,762,651)
55-64 years: 12.38% (male 2,980,206 /female 3,125,949)
65 years and over: 18.15% (male 3,833,601 /female 5,118,817) (2018 est.)
15.3% (male 3,872,763/female 3,656,549)
15-24 years: 9.5% (male 2,424,352/female 2,267,429)
25-54 years: 44.9% (male 11,214,102/female 10,775,039)
54-64 years: 12.1% (male 2,899,088/female 3,044,111)
65 years and over: 17.9% (male 3,763,989/female 5,040,737) (2017 est.)
14.4% (male 3,423,861/female 3,232,028)
15-64 years: 69.1% (male 16,185,575/female 15,683,433)
65 years and over: 16.5% (male 3,238,301/female 4,394,624) (2008 est.)
- Median age
- total: 43.1 years. Country comparison to the world: 21st
- male: 41.9 years
- female: 44.3 years (2018 est.)
- total: 42.7 years
- male: 41.5 years
- female: 43.9 years (2017 est.)
- Birth rate
- 9 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 205th
- 9.2 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
- Death rate
- 9.2 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 59th
- Total fertility rate
- 1.5 children born/woman (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 196th
- Net migration rate
- 7.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 13th
- 7.8 current migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
- Population growth rate
- 0.73% (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 137th
- 0.78% (2017 est.)
- Mother's mean age at first birth
- 30.7 years (2015 est.)
- Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 81.8 years. Country comparison to the world: 22nd
- male: 78.8 years
- female: 84.9 years (2017 est.)
- Infant mortality rate
- 3.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.). Country comparison to the world: 212th
- Sex ratio
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
82.4 years (Source: OECD 2013 "Health at a glance" report)
male: 78.8 years (Source: OECD 2013 "Health at a glance" report)
female: 85.2 years (Source: OECD 2013 "Health at a glance" report)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2016 est.)
- total population: 98.3%
- male: 98.8%
- female: 97.7% (2016 est.)
- School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
- total: 18 years
- male: 18 years
- female: 18 years (2016)
- Unemployment, youth ages 15–24
- total: 38.6%. Country comparison to the world: 14th
- male: 39.5%
- female: 37.4% (2017 est.)
- See also : Nationalities and regions of Spain
The largest metropolitan areas in 2007 were:
- Madrid 6,489,162
- Barcelona 5,375,774
- Valencia 1,705,742
- Seville 1,519,639
- Bilbao 950,155
- Málaga 897,563
- Asturias (Gijón–Oviedo–Avilés) 857,079
- Alicante–Elche 748,565
- Zaragoza 731,803
- Vigo - Pontevedra 662,412
- Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 616,903
- Bahía de Cádiz (Cádiz–Jerez de la Frontera) 615,494
- Santa Cruz de Tenerife 573,825
- Murcia 563,272
- Palma de Mallorca 474,035
- Granada 472,638
- San Sebastián 402,168
- Tarragona 406,042
- A Coruña 403,007
- Valladolid 400,400
- Santander–Torrelavega 391,480
- Córdoba 323,600
- Pamplona 309,631
Definition of ethnicity or nationality in Spain is fraught politically. The term "Spanish people" (pueblo español) is defined in the 1978 constitution as the political sovereign, i.e. the citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. The same constitution in its preamble speaks of "peoples and nationalities of Spain" (pueblos y nacionalidades de España) and their respective cultures, traditions, languages and institutions. The formerly nomadic Gitanos and Mercheros are distinctly marked by endogamy and discrimination but they are dispersed through the country.
The native Canarians are partly the descendants of the North African population of the Canary Islands prior to Spanish colonization in the 15th century although many Spaniards have varying levels of North African admixture as a result of the Islamic period. Also included are many Spaniard citizens who are descendants of people from Spain's former colonies, mostly from Equatorial Guinea, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Morocco and the Philippines. There is also a sizable number of Spaniards of Eastern European, Maghrebian, Sub Saharan-African, South Asian and Middle Eastern descent.
Native-born Spanish citizens of all ethnic groups make up 85.7% of the total population, and 15.3% are immigrants or expats, both naturalized and foreign. Among the immigrants, around 45% of them come from Spain's former territories in America (primarily Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia). The rest are predominantly North African, Eastern European and Western European. The majority of Western and Northern Europeans in Spain are retired expats living in coastal areas.
As of 2018, the region had a foreign population of 4,734,691. The largest groups of foreigners were those of Moroccan, Romanian, British, Chinese and Italian citizenship. Meanwhile, Spain had a foreign-born population of 6,742,948, being those born in the Americas the largest group, and Europe being the second most common continent of origin after South America.
The Reconquista was the long process by which the Catholics reconquered Spain from Islamic rule by 1492. The Spanish Inquisition was established in 1478 to complete the religious orthodoxy of the Iberian Peninsula. In the centuries that followed, Spain saw itself as the bulwark of Catholicism and doctrinal purity, since them Catholicism has been the main religion in Spain.
Spanish missionaries carried Catholicism to the Americas and the Philippines, establishing various missions in the newly colonized lands. The missions served as a base for both administering colonies as well as spreading Christianity.
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 abolished Catholicism as the official state religion, but recognizing the role it plays in Spanish society. From the end of the Francoist dictatorship to the present day, a secularization process has taken place that has meant a progressive decrease in religious practice, in the attendance at the different religious rites (baptisms, communions and Catholic marriages) and in the percentage of Spaniards who identify as Catholic, Consequently, a majority of younger Spaniards today ignore Catholic doctrines on matters such as pre-marital sex, homosexuality and contraception. Despite the drop, Catholic identity nevertheless remains an important part of Spain's culture.
As of 2018[update], 68.5% of the population define themselves as Catholic, 26.4% as non-believers or atheists, and 2.6% other religions according to the official Spanish Center for Sociological Research. Among believers, 59% assert they almost never go to any religious service, by contrast, 16.3% attend one or more religious service almost every week.
A study made by the Union of Islamic Communities of Spain demonstrated that there were about 1,700,000 inhabitants of Muslim background living in Spain as of 2012[update], accounting for 3–4% of the total population of Spain. The vast majority was composed of immigrants and descendants originating from Morocco and other African countries. More than 514,000 (30%) of them had Spanish nationality.
- Spanish 99% (88% mother tongue) (official nationwide)
- Catalan 16% (9% mother tongue) (co-official in Catalonia, Balearic Islands, and Valencia — see Valencian)
- Galician 7% (5% mother tongue) (co-official in Galicia)
- Basque 1.6% (1% mother tongue) (co-official in Basque Country and designated areas in Navarre).
- Aranese (a variant of Gascon Occitan) is co-official in Val d'Aran, a small valley in the Pyrenees.
Others with no official status:
- Asturian-Leonese (in the former Kingdom of León and Asturias)
- Aragonese (in the province of Huesca, Aragon)
- Arabic (in the autonomous city of Ceuta)
- Berber (in the autonomous city of Melilla)
Definition: people of age 15 and over can read and write. Amount of population ≥ 15 that can read and write: 97.7%.
About 70% of Spain's student population attends public schools or universities. The remainder attend private schools or universities, many of which are operated by the Catholic Church.
Compulsory education begins with primary school or general basic education for ages 6–16. It is free in public schools and in many private schools, most of which receive government subsidies. Following graduation, students attend either a secondary school offering a general high school diploma or a school of professional study in all fields – law, sciences, humanities, and medicine – and the technical schools offer programs in engineering and architecture.
- In fertility rates, 2.1 and above is a stable population and has been marked blue, 2 and below leads to an aging population and the result is that the population decreases.
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