By Humphrey Carter

THE Balearics, in proportion to the population, has the largest immigrant population in Spain. The region's immigrant population accounts for 10.47 per cent of the total population, only Mellila, one of Spain's enclaves in North Africa, has a larger immigrant population of 18.2 per cent. According to the latest set of figures supplied by the National Statistics Institute, at the end of 2001, with a total Balearic population of 878.627, there were 91.987 immigrants living in the Balearics, according to local council registers. Looking at the global picture, nearly five per cent of foreigners legally living in Spain, live in the Balearics while the total Balearic population only accounts for 2.2 per cent of the population of Spain. The latest figures show that in the space of five years, 1996 to 2001, the foreign population in the Balearics doubled in size while the number of immigrants living in Spain rose by 84 per cent during the same period. The Balearic director general for Economy, Antoni Monserrat, said yesterday that 51 per cent of foreign residents are from European Union member states and the remainder non-EU countries. Monserrat believes that the Balearics is not only attractive to non-EU members seeking work and a better life, but also EU citizens after more comfortable living and working environments. He also said that immigration in the Balearics is different to the mainland as 51 per cent of immigrants are employed and paying social security. But while the Balearic population is estimated to have grown to 916.000 by the end of last year, the vast majority of foreign residents have kept their nationality, just over eight per cent have taken up Spanish nationality, the latest figures indicate that 38 per cent of Balearic residents were not born in the region and the figure has been steadily growing for the past five years, over one of three people living here, were not born here. The largest foreign community is German with a population of 19.401 followed by 11.845 Britons, 8.611 Moroccans, 7.182 French, 6.415 Argentines and 2.928 Colombians.