The number of people living in Spain is approaching 50 million. But who are they? We take a closer look.
As of January 2018, Spain’s total population stood at 46,659,302. That’s actually a decrease from the high of 46.8 million people that was recorded in 2012.
The decrease is said to be explained by the high number of people who had moved to Spain for economic reasons returning to their home countries in recent years.
A recovery of sorts is underway though, as the numbers increased in 2017 and 2018 after the years of slight decline. These increases were due to new migrant arrivals.
Where do people live in Spain?
With the big exception of the capital city Madrid, much of Spain’s population lives along the coastline in metropolitan areas. The top ten urban areas in population terms are as follows:
- Las Palmas
Taken together, more than 10.5 million people live in the urban areas of Madrid and Barcelona.
A significant number of people live on one of the many islands of Spain. The biggest of these are Tenerife, Mallorca, and Gran Canaria, each of which are home to more than 800,000 people. In fact the capital city of Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, makes the top ten of the biggest cities and the biggest urban areas in Spain.
Minority groups living in Spain
Discussing ethnic groups in Spain is a politically-charged topic. In this article we refer to Spanish people as citizens of Spain regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.
Native-born Spanish citizens of all ethnic groups make up 88% of Spain’s total population, Among the 12% of immigrants, more than half of them come from the former Spanish colonies of Latin America including Cuba, Argentina, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Chile and Uruguay, along with the African territories and the Philippines.
The top ten nationalities of non-Spanish citizens living in Spain are as follows:
- United Kingdom
Hundreds of thousands of British citizens are living in Spain and it remains to be seen what impact Brexit will have on the total population.
The future of Spain
The fertility rate in Spain – the average number of children a woman will have during her life – is lower than the EU average.According to a Business Insider report, Spanish women wait longer than most European women to give birth.
Spaniards generally live longer than anyone else in the EU. “These factors leave Spain at the risk of becoming a so-called ‘demographic time bomb,’ a place where life expectancy rises while fertility rates fall”, explains the report.
This may seem strange considering the population increased in both 2017 and 2018, but this increase was largely due to a rise in new immigrants.
In the eastern highlands of Spain, the village of La Estrella is a very real example of what could happen if the problem is not addressed. The village – which once had a population of around 200 – has an ageing population with no recent childbirths. There are now just two people living in the village full-time.