At the end of March last year, there were just over 1'200'000 foreign residents in Spain with 81 per cent living in just six autonomous regions. The Balearics and the Canaries accounted for 12 per cent, 22 per cent lived in Valencia and Andalucía and the remaining 47 per cent in Catalonia and Madrid. At a national level, the foreign population is officially growing at an annual rate of 20 per cent, although the authorities are unable to put a figure on the number of immigrants living or working in Spain illegally. Three years ago, on the list of the 22 “most developed” countries, Spain was in 19th place with regards to the size of the country's immigrant population, however, between 1990 and 1999, after Finland and Greece, Spain registered the highest rate of immigration in Europe. Spain's most popular regions for immigrants, such as the Balearics, are braced for an influx of foreign nationals over the next few months following last week's change in the Spanish immigration laws. Over one million foreign nationals in South America, especially Argentina and Cuba, are expected to take full advantage of the new laws.

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