THE Balearics is the region with the highest number of cars per 1'000 inhabitants, with a total of 604, considerably more than Madrid (530) which is second, and Girona (509), in third place.
This is partially attributed to the high number of car hire firms in the region, according to figures for 2003, from the traffic authorities.
The report says that there are 438 cars per 1'000 inhabitants in Spain, approximately one car per household. The percentage in the Balearics is higher.
There are 752'997 vehicles in the Balearics. Palma is the municipality with the highest number (272'424), followed by Calvia (37'929), Ibiza (30'760), Manacor (29'673), Llucmajor (24'800), Santa Eulalia del Riu in Ibiza (22'824), Marratxi (19'619), Sant Josep de Sa Talaia (17'462) and Inca (16'707).
The report says that the number of vehicles in Palma has risen by 17 percent in the past five years, indicating that the number of lorries and vans has gone up by 22.1 percent and that of cars by 16.4 percent.
However, the most striking increase has been in the municipality of Montuiri, where the number of vehicles has shot up by 152 percent since 1998, because of a 189 percent increase in the number of cars.
Other municipalities with spectacular increases include Es Mercadal in Minorca, where the number of vehicles rose by 85 percent since 1998, because of a 96 percent increase in cars, and Marratxi in Majorca, with a 51 percent increase attributed to a 53.7 percent increase in cars alone.
Up to 20 municipalities in the Balearics have seen the number of vehicles rise by more than 30 percent.
They include Consell (38 percent), Vilafranca de Bonany (37 percent), Alcudia (36.5 percent), Calvia (33 percent), Sant Antoni de Portmany (34 percent).
The Balearic government has drawn up an ambitious public transport plan, which includes opening more train routes, improving the island bus service and creating more bike only lanes.
But the figures from the traffic department are discouraging: Marratxi, which had a 53.7 percent increase in cars is already well connected with Palma and Inca by train.