by Staff Reporter
THE population of the Balearics is the fastest growing in Spain, having risen by 19 percent between the years 1998 and 2003, compared to a national average of just 7.2 percent.

According to a report published by La Caixa, the population in the Balearic Islands rose by 150'878 persons in that period, and it now stands at 947'361.

The second biggest population growth was registered in the Canary Islands (16.2 percent), followed by Murcia (13.8 percent), Madrid (12.3 percent) and Valencia (11.1 percent).

This contrasts with Asturias, which lost 0.6 percent of its population, and the Basque Country and Extremadura, where the increases were 0.6 and 0.4 percent respectively.

The report indicates that the Balearic population grew by 3.5 percent a year during the period studied, more than double the rate for Spain as a whole, which was 1.4 percent.

The municipalities which showed the biggest increase in population in the five year period were Marratxi (42.7 percent), Capdepera (41.6 percent), Alcudia (38.8 percent), Son Servera (33.3 percent) and Calvia (31.9 percent), in Majorca, and Es Mercadal in Minorca (34.2 percent). The towns with the lowest increases were Llubi (3.3 percent), Petra (4.9 percent), Selva (6.1 percent), Campanet (7 percent) and Porreres (8.1 percent) in Majorca and Es Migjorn in Minorca (8 percent).