A study by the University of the Balearic Islands into population growth between now and 2030 suggests that the islands can anticipate a maximum of 2.5 million people by 2030.
By maximum, the study refers to the most number of people at any one time. In high summer, the current level is something over two million, which is almost twice the registered population of people living in the Balearics.
One way of putting this increase, the study says, is that there would be 25 people for every metre of beach in Majorca.
Led by Andreu Sansó, professor of applied economics at the university, the research has been undertaken in order to facilitate strategies for infrastructure and resources. Commissioned by the innovation and research directorate (part of the ministry headed by tourism minister and vice-president Biel Barceló), the study has adopted an indicator of human pressure so that forecasts can be made. This quantifies the movement of people in specific areas at any given time and implications for the likes of waste, water, energy and health services.
Extrapolating from data since 1997, the study points to a 33% rise in the minimum level of population. Split across the islands, this would be 32.7% in Majorca and almost 40% in Ibiza and Formentera (Minorca would be lower). The maximum would be in the order of 23.7% more for the Balearics, with Majorca experiencing a 24.4% increase. By 2030, therefore, the minimum population is calculated to be 1.4 million (the minimum population at present is put around one million*), while the maximum would be 2.5 million and the average 1.8 million.
The rise in population, it is said, could mean that the Balearics become among the most densely populated places in the world. By 2030, the estimate is that there will be a minimum 292 inhabitants per square kilometre, rising to a maximum of 499. In the case of Ibiza and Formentera, though, these figures would be much higher: a minimum of 566 and a maximum of 723.
The research does not take account of any additional numbers of people from cruise ships or private yachts.
* Note that the official figure for the registered population in the Balearics in 2015 was 1,106,753, which is therefore higher than the one being quoted by the study.