A YEARLY economic report issued by the La Caixa banking foundation yesterday confirmed that the population of the Balearic Islands increased by 12.4 percent between 2002 and 2008, and that 9.9 percent of the growth was attributable to foreigners. The figures place the Islands as the region of Spain with the third highest number of immigrants, superseded only by Valencia and Murcia.

Looking at the country as a whole, immigrants are the principal reason for the growth in population between 2002 and 2008, with three quarters of the 3.3 million new inhabitants coming from overseas. According to La Caixa's report, the population of Spain grew eight percent in this period - six percent of which could be allocated to an influx of immigrants.

Closer analysis shows that between 2002 and 2007, the number of foreigners grew by more than 2.54 million, whilst the Spanish population increased by just under 820'000. There was not an even distribution of growth during this period, with some areas such as Murcia experiencing a particularly sharp upturn in the number of “visitors in its midst” - foreigners were responsible for 9.7 percent of the total percentage growth of 13.5 percent; and in Valencia where immigrants from overseas pushed up the total number of inhabitants by 10 percent.

Following on behind the Balearic Islands comes Castilla-La Mancha which increased its population during this period by 11 percent, 6.3 of which was a direct result of immigration from overseas. Catalonia's 10.8 percent growth in population was 9.1 percent thanks to outsiders coming to live in the region.

In absolute terms, the most significant foreign population growth across these five regions was registered in Catalonia where between 2002 and 2007, more than half a million new residents were enshrined in town hall annals. It is immediately followed by Valencia and Madrid with 433'553 and 422'470 new immigrant residents, respectively.

The La Caixa report also reveals that the province (as opposed to region) which registered the most intense population growth during the period was Guadalajara where the increase reached 26.1 percent, although in this particular case, the majority of new citizens were Spanish.

This is not the situation with Tarragona, the province which had the second highest population growth rate - 20.1 percent. Of this total, 12.9 percent were foreigners. In other provinces such as the Balearics, Lleida and Madrid, the rate of Spaniards contributing to the increase in the number of citizens didn't exceed 2.5 percent.

Conversely, looking at capitals of Spanish provinces and municipalities with more than 50'000 inhabitants, the report highlighted the outlying area of Madrid - Rivas-Vaciamadrid - where the population increased during this period by 66.6 percent and Valdemoro where it grew by 55.7 percent. In both cases, the driving force behind the surge was down to people of Spanish origin, not foreigners.


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