Immigration to Spain
Immigration to Spain increased significantly in the beginning of the 21st century. In 1998, immigrants accounted for 1.6% of the population, and by 2009, that number had jumped to above 12% — one of the highest in Europe at the time. Until 2014, the numbers were decreasing due to the economical crisis, but since then, immigration to Spain has increased again since 2015 and immigrants now account for 12.8% of the Spanish population, according to the United Nations. As of 2018, there were over 5,947,106 foreign-born people in Spain, 12.8% of the total population. This makes Spain one of the world's preferred destinations to immigrate to, being the 4th country in Europe by immigration numbers. Spain attracts significant immigration from Latin America and Eastern Europe. The fastest-growing immigrant groups in 2017 were Venezuelans, Colombians, Italians, Ukrainians, and Argentinians.
The population of Spain doubled during the 20th century due to the spectacular demographic boom in the 1960s and early 1970s. The birth rate then plunged by the 1980s, and Spain's population became stagnant, its demographics showing one of the lowest sub-replacement fertility rate in the world..
During the early 21st century, the average 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. This trend is far from being reversed at the present moment and, in 2005 alone, the immigrant population of Spain increased by 700,000 people.
- 1 Currently
- 2 Immigrants from the European Union
- 3 Social attitudes to immigration
- 4 Immigration by country of origin
- 5 Comparison with other countries from European Union
- 6 Irregular migration
- 7 Naturalizations
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
|Foreign population in Spain|
According to the United Nations, there were 5,947,106 immigrants in Spain in early 2018, 12.8% of population of Spain. According to the Spanish government, there were 5.6 million foreign residents in Spain in 2010; independent estimates put the figure 14% of total population (Red Cross, World Disasters Report 2006). According to the official 2011 census data, almost 800,000 were Romanian, 774,000 were Moroccan, 317,000 were Ecuadorian, 312,000 were British and 250,000 were Colombian . Other important foreign communities are Bolivian (4.1%), German (3.4%), Italian (3.1%), Bulgarian (2.9%), Chinese (2.6%) and Argentine (2.5%). In 2005, a regularization programme increased the legal immigrant population by 700,000 people. Since 2000, Spain has experienced high population growth as a result of immigration flows, despite a birth rate that is only half of the replacement level. This sudden and ongoing inflow of immigrants, particularly those arriving clandestinely by sea, has caused noticeable social tensions.
According to Eurostat, in 2010, there were 6.4 million foreign-born residents in Spain, corresponding to 14.0% of the total population. Of these, 4.1 million (8.9%) were born outside the EU and 2.3 million (5.1%) were born in another EU Member State.
As of 2005 Spain had the second highest immigration rates within the EU, just after Cyprus, and the second highest absolute net migration in the World (after the USA). This can be explained by a number of reasons including its strong economic growth at the time, the large size of its underground economy and the strength of the agricultural and construction sectors which demand more low cost labour than can be offered by the national workforce, as well as business opportunities for immigrants coming from other developed countries. In fact, booming Spain was Europe's largest absorber of migrants from 2002 to 2007, with its immigrant population more than doubling as 2.5 million people arrived.
Over 920,000 immigrants arrived in Spain during 2007, on top of the 802,971 new arrivals in 2006, 682,711 new arrivals in 2005, and 645,844 new arrivals in 2004.
Although the number of immigrants in Spain, officially, is smaller than that of other countries in the EU, the following data should be taken into consideration:
- Immigrants from countries belonging to the former Spanish Empire (mainly in Central and South America–Latin America–, Asia–the Philippines– and Africa–Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara–) can obtain Spanish nationality after legal and continuous residence of 2 years in Spain, after which naturalized citizens are no longer counted as immigrants.
- In order to avoid statelessness, Spain automatically grants Spanish nationality to the children of immigrants born in Spain whose parents' nationality of origin is not transferred jus sanguinis upon their child's birth abroad. This is unlike many other countries in the EU. It is for this reason that although the Latin American immigrants of origin are most numerous, the Romanians or the Moroccans surpassed them in the official statistics.
In the same way the majority of children born in Spain between 2000 and 2010 are children of immigrants despite not counting as such. Considering these data, there are sectors of Spanish society who oppose immigration that affirm the real number of immigrants in Spain is 10–11 million, or about 25% of the total population.
As for nationalities outside of this category, in order to stay in Spain for more than 3 months, a residence card, residence visa or work permit is required.
In all, two distinct groups can be identified: those immigrants (mostly in working age) originating from countries mostly located in Eastern Europe, South America or Africa, with lower GDP per capita than Spain, comprising most of the immigrating population, and those (whom many are retired) immigrants originating from northern European or another western countries with a higher GDP per capita than Spain.
Immigrants from the European Union
Immigrants from the European Union make up a growing proportion of immigrants in Spain. The main countries of origin are Romania, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria.
The British authorities estimate that the real population of UK citizens living in Spain is much bigger than Spanish official figures suggest, establishing them at about 1,000,000, about 800,000 being permanent residents. Of these, according to the BBC and contrary to popular belief, only about 21.5% are over the age of 65.
In fact, according to the Financial Times, Spain is the most favoured destination for West Europeans considering to move from their own country and seek jobs elsewhere in the EU.
Social attitudes to immigration
Unlike other countries in the EU, Spain has not recorded any relevant anti-immigration bout to date. According to some analysts, the causes behind this are multiple. In addition to the lack of strong right-wing political parties, it also must be added that the legacy of Francoist Spain left an ingrained skepticism towards rightwing authoritarianism. Drawing from the experience of many Spaniards during the 1960s and then again in the beginning of the 21st century when the crisis struck the country, there may be also a collective understanding that hardships force people to seek work abroad.
A January 2004 survey by Spanish newspaper El País showed that the "majority" of Spaniards believe immigration was too high. Small parties, such as Movimiento Social Español, openly campaign using nationalist or anti-immigrant rhetoric as do other small far-right parties such as National Democracy (Spain) and España 2000. These parties have never won national or regional parliamentary seats.
Immigration by country of origin
This chart shows the numbers and difference of foreign nationals in Spain after 2001. European Union member states are indicated with the EU flag in regional European sub-divisions. The number of Latin American immigrants decreased massively after 2009 mostly due to the naturalization of hundreds of thousands of these citizens who achieved the Spanish citizenship and therefore don't count as immigrants anymore on the official statistics. See the chart from below from the "Naturalizations" paragraph for further information.
|Romania||730,340||798,104||527,019||407,159||31,641||766,463||+2,522%||Romanians in Spain|
|Morocco||714,221||769,920||582,923||563,012||233,415||536,505||+230%||Moroccans in Spain|
|United Kingdom||311,774||390,880||314,951||274,722||107,326||283,554||+264%||British migration to Spain|
|Ecuador||212,970||359,076||427,099||461,310||139,022||220,054||+158%||Ecuadorians in Spain|
|Italy||182,249||187,847||135,108||115,791||34,689||153,158||+441%||Italians in Spain|
|Colombia||172,368||271,773||261,542||265,141||87,209||184,564||+212%||Colombians in Spain|
|China||164,555||166,223||106,652||104,681||27,574||138,649||+503%||Chinese people in Spain|
|Germany||149,522||195,842||164,405||150,490||99,217||96,625||+97%||Germans in Spain|
|Bulgaria||140,206||172,634||122,057||101,617||12,035||160,599||+1,334%||Bulgarians in Spain|
|Bolivia||126,421||197,895||200,496||139,802||6,619||191,276||+2,890%||Bolivians in Spain|
|Portugal||109,568||140,706||100,616||80,635||47,064||93,642||+199%||Portuguese in Spain|
|France||100,448||122,385||100,408||90,021||51,582||70,803||+137%||French in Spain|
|Peru||83,583||131,886||103,650||95,903||34,975||96,911||+277%||Peruvians in Spain|
|Ukraine||81,625||85,913||69,983||69,893||10,318||75,595||+733%||Ukrainians in Spain|
|Argentina||80,910||120,012||141,159||150,252||32,429||87,583||+270%||Argentines in Spain|
|Dominican Republic||77,280||90,612||65,119||61,071||31,153||59,459||+191%||Dominicans in Spain|
|Poland||70,606||85,862||61,464||45,797||13,469||72,393||+537%||Poles in Spain|
|Russia||62,452||52,832||39,798||39,904||10,047||42,785||+426%||Russians in Spain|
|Paraguay||55,524||87,406||46,238||28,587||928||86,478||+9,319%||Paraguayans in Spain|
|Pakistan||55,452||69,841||42,105||42,138||8,274||61,567||+744%||Pakistanis in Spain|
|Venezuela||44,290||59,453||51,481||51,261||16,549||42,904||+259%||Venezuelans in Spain|
|Philippines||30,079||-||54,385||51,368||-||3,017||-||Filipinos in Spain|
|Uruguay||28,437||42,581||46,069||45,508||6,828||35,753||+524%||Uruguayans in Spain|
|Mexico||22,486||Mexicans in Spain|
From other countries
European Union member states are indicated with the EU flag in regional European sub-divisions.
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1,659||1,827|
|Rest of European countries||66||83|
|Republic of the Congo||1,801||1,888|
|Egypt||2,566||3,634||Egyptians in Spain|
|Equatorial Guinea||13,129||19,456||Spanish Equatoguineans|
|Tunisia||1,544||2,194||Tunisians in Spain|
|Rest of African countries||5,041||8,679|
|Rest of Central America countries||1,002||2,517|
|Armenia||9,582||9,365||Armenians in Spain|
|Philippines||54,385||51,368||Filipinos in Spain|
|South Korea||22,465||13,144||Koreans in Spain|
|Iran||12,334||4,568||Iranians in Spain|
|Iraq||880||1,706||Iraqi people in Spain|
|Jordan||1,088||2,082||Jordanian people in Spain|
|Lebanon||6,250||2,750||Lebanese people in Spain|
|Syria||6,129||4,575||Syrian people in Spain|
|Turkey||1,758||1,656||Turks in Spain|
|Rest of Asian countries||6,430||2,517|
|Rest of Oceanian countries||494||1,099|
Comparison with other countries from European Union
According to Eurostat 47.3 million people lived in the European Union in 2010 who were born outside their resident country. This corresponds to 9.4% of the total EU population. Of these, 31.4 million (6.3%) were born outside the EU and 16.0 million (3.2%) were born in another EU member state. The largest absolute numbers of people born outside the EU were in Germany (6.4 million), France (5.1 million), the United Kingdom (4.7 million), Spain (4.1 million), Italy (3.2 million), and the Netherlands (1.4 million).
|Country||Total population (millions)||Total Foreign-born (millions)||%||Born in other EU state (millions)||%||Born in a non EU state (millions)||%|
Irregular migration to Spain is the act of foreign nationals entering Spain, without government permission and in violation of the given nationality law, or staying beyond the termination date of a visa, also in violation of the law.
In order to deal with the overwhelming numbers of illegal immigrants the government has initiated an amnesty in 2005 to reduce the problem. Some critics believe this will only encourage Chain migration.
Since the end of the 20th century the number of foreigners who have obtained Spanish nationality has grown steadily, as Spain has been the EU country with the biggest number of approved naturalizations since 2010 until 2015. 1 out of 4 naturalizations made in the European Union in 2014 were belonging to Spain. Most of these naturalizations went to citizens coming from Latin America (which explains the massive decrease of these citizens counting as immigrants in Spain) mainly from Colombia, Ecuador and Perú, although Morocco was amongst the top 3 as well. After 4 years being the first, Spain dropped to the 3rd position in 2015 due to the stricter laws to naturalize citizens. Still, 114.351 foreigners became Spanish citizens in 2015, the majority being Latin Americans. 
|New Spanish nationals by naturalization, 2005-2015|
- Immigration to Europe
- List of countries by immigrant population
- List of sovereign states and dependent territories by fertility rate
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- Fuente: para los años 1981, 1986 y 1991, los datos se refieren tan sólo a extranjeros con permiso de residencia a 31 de diciembre y proceden del Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales, citado en [permanent dead link] (tomando, para el porcentaje de 1986, la población española de hecho según la estimación intercensal del INE para el 1 de julio ). Para los datos de 1996 y posteriores, todos los datos proceden del INE 
- For 2013 and 2014
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- ASESER Teranga: Asociación de Inmigrantes Senegaleses Residentes en A Coruña
- Latest immigration news in Spain
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