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STAFF REPORTER

MADRID/PALMA
WITH the population of the Balearic Islands now standing at nearly 1'100'000, the non-Spanish sector (237'359) goes to make up 21.7 percent of its total, a figure which places the Islands as the region of Spain with the highest proportional representation of foreigners in the country.

The National Institute of Statistics (INE) census released yesterday reported that the population of the Balearics has grown by 2.1 percent in the space of twelve months, rising from 1'072'849 people in 2008 to a headcount of 1'094'972 residents as at 1st January this year. In growth terms, the Islands come second only to the Spanish city of Melilla in North Africa which reported an upturn in numbers of non-Spanish national residents of 2.7 percent for the same period.

In the Balearics, 552'190 of the total registered population (foreigners and nationals) are men (50.4 percent), and 542'782 are women.
Meanwhile, at a national level, the census for the whole of the population of Spain, showed that there were 46.6 million people living in the country. The figure includes a 1.1 percent increase (504'128) on the numbers registered for the same date 12 months previously.

However, in absolute (as opposed to proportional) terms, the INE census shows that the regions of Spain where the highest increases in population which have been registered from 1st January 2008 to the same date in 2009, are Catalonia (with 103'345 people); Madrid (88'603); Andalucia (83'472) and Valencia (54'901). At the other end of the scale, still in absolute terms, the regions which have undergone the least population growth are the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa with upturns of 1'202 and 1'934 extra residents respectively. These cities are followed in low population increase by the region of Extremadura which registered population growth of 2'256 for the same period. No area of Spain registered decline in population last year.

At a general level, the census showed that the country has 41 million (41'063'259) Spanish nationals living within its borders and 5.5 million (5'598'691) foreigners. The figures conclude that 12 percent of the registered population is foreign but that only 2.3 million of this total come from other European countries.

The Balearics leads the country in terms of having the highest proportion of foreigners as a percentage of the region's total population, with 237'359 registered non-Spanish residents. The foreign population in the Islands has grown by 6.4 percent in twelve months, one decimal point above the national average. The INE report shows that there were 14'323 more foreigners living in the Balearics on 1st January 2009 than there were on the same date in 2008. With the release of the INE census, more recognition is being given to the widening gap between the number of non-EU foreigners who are registered with their local councils and those who are in the country without official papers - now calculated to be one million.