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By Tim Fanning

PALMA
THE Balearics continues to be as popular as ever with expats with new figures showing that the British population has risen by almost 20 percent in the last 12 months.

The figures just released by the National Institute of Statistics show that there were 22'032 Britons living on the islands as of January 1 this year, compared with the over 18'000 living here on the same date last year.

The true number of British expats living in the Balearics probably vary somewhat from the institute's figures, which are based on the records of those officially registered as living here.

British expats continue to be the second largest group of foreigners living on the islands.
The Germans continue to be the biggest expat group with 33'123 residents, a jump of 13.4 percent on the previous year.
The Balearic population as a whole has grown by 3.9 percent during the last 12 months, according to the figures.
With an increase of population from 1'030'650 to 1'071'221 - 40'571 additional residents - it now has the fastest growing population in Spain.
Foreigners now make up more than 20 percent of the population, making the Balearics the region of Spain with the greatest proportion of foreigners to Spanish citizens.

There are over 40'500 more foreigners living here than at the beginning of 2007.
The Balearics now has almost 10 percent of the whole foreign population of Spain.
A total of 5.2 million foreigners now live in Spain, 11.3 percent of the population. The figure has risen by over 700'000 in the last 12 months.
Moroccans make up the most numerous non-EU group of foreigners. There are now 20'476 Moroccans living on the islands, compared with 17'935 last year, an increase of 14.1 percent.

The Italian expat population has seen a growth of 18.5 percent during the last 12 months. There are now 14'147 Italians living in the islands.
The Ecuadorian and Argentinian populations on the islands have also grown significantly during the last year. There are now 13'441 Ecuadorians living in the islands. The Argentinian population has grown by over 10 percent during the last year to 12'286.

The Romanian population has experienced one of the greatest percentage increases. There now 10'289 Romanians in the Balearics, more than 46 percent than in 2007. The Bulgarian population has also grown substantially. There were 7'977 Bulgarians registered as living here at the beginning of the year, up 24.6 percent on last year.

After the Balearics, Valencia has the greatest number of foreign residents in proportion to Spanish citizens (16.7 percent or 838'224), followed by Madrid (15.9 percent or 991'259).

Those communities with the lowest proportions of foreign residents compared to Spanish citizens are Extremadura (3.2 percent), Galicia (3.4 percent) and Asturias (3.7 percent).

In relation to the largest relative increases of population, after the Balearics came Castile-La Mancha (3.1 percent), Madrid (2.8 percent) and Valencia and Melilla (both 2.7 percent).