Foreign accents on the Costa del Sol
The population of Malaga province is continuing to increase; however, this growth is mainly due to the presence of foreigners and it must also be said that the increase during the past year has been minimal and the population has grown by only 13,254 inhabitants. The economic crisis has led to a change in migration and the number of foreign residents in Spain has dropped by approximately 100,000.
Despite this, Malaga province remains attractive for people from Europe, Africa and Asia, whose numbers are increasing although to a lesser extent than before the crisis. In many cases, especially with regard to non EU nationals, the increase is likely to be due to family regrouping rather than the opportunities of finding work.
According to statistics provided by the INE (Instituto Nacional Estadística or National Statistics Institute) in January 2010, Malaga province had 1,606,322 inhabitants compared with 1,593,068 in January 2009. This slight increase is mainly due to the foreign population which rose by more than 43,000 during that period, from 267,824 to 310,835.
These figures refer to those who have registered at their local Town Halls. If it were not for its foreign population, the province would have lost about 30,000 inhabitants, because the number of Spanish residents has dropped from 1,325,244 to 1,295,487 in one year.
In Malaga province, with the exception of Paraguayans, the only foreign residents whose numbers have dropped come from Ibero-American countries, particularly Argentina, where many people have returned home because their own country appears to be recovering economically and they don’t want to live through another economic crisis here in Spain.
The increased number of Paraguayans, or, to be more exact, of Paraguayan women, is because there are employment possibilities in Malaga province for those who want to work in domestic service.
According to the last census, almost 3,800 residents of Malaga city are from Paraguay.
Paraguayans and the population register
Curiously, although 3,111 people from Paraguay have been granted resident permits, more than 7,800 are on the population registers of municipalities in Malaga province. The difference is partly due to the number of people who are living here illegally, but also because Paraguayan women are aware that they need to be on the population register in order to apply for a residence permit.
Many of the women who work in domestic service have no residence or work permits. Once they have gained the confidence of the people who employ them, they ask them to make them an official offer of work, which is fundamental for them to be granted a residence permit. As the immigrants are already in Spain, they have to wait three years to be accepted as official residents and that is why it is so important for them to be on the population register: this is one of the documents which proves that they have been in the country for the length of time stipulated by the law.
With regard to foreigners from EU countries who have a residence permit or registration certificate, the Rumanians are growing fastest in number with an increase of more than one thousand in a year. These are the most numerous foreigners in municipalities such as Vélez-Malaga; they form the second highest foreign population in Alhaurín el Grande and the third in Coín and Antequera.
However, it is citizens from the United Kingdom who are the most numerous foreign residents in Malaga province, as 40,700 are now registered as residing here. This figure is slightly higher than that in 2009. This makes Malaga the Spanish province with the second highest number of British residents, after Alicante, where there are 62,000. Nevertheless, as is the case with foreigners of other nationalities, there is a huge difference between the number of British people with a residence permit or registration certificate and those who are included in the population census.
According to the latter, there are approximately 70,000 people from the UK living in the province. Malaga province is also home to the highest numbers of Danish (3,643), Finnish (3,723) and Irish (1,687) people in the whole of Spain. Strangely enough, although their numbers are smaller, it also has the largest number of residents from South Africa and Sri Lanka.
The British in Mijas
Mijas, with13,000 British people on its population register, is indisputably the municipality of Malaga with the largest number of residents from the United Kingdom, followed at a distance by Benalmádena (6,319), Fuengirola (5,416) and Estepona (5,310). On the other hand, the population register for Malaga city shows only 765 British people.
The second largest foreign population in the province is Moroccan, and this year 26,700 people from that country hold a residence permit.
This number is slightly up on 2009, when there were almost 26,300 Moroccans living here legally. Many of them (7,200) have chosen to live in Malaga city, but the others can be found in other municipalities along the coast as well as in rural towns and villages.
Marbella is a popular choice for Moroccan residents, as 4,041 are registered as living there, a figure very similar to the British population, and so is Benalmádena, where more than 6,300 Moroccans live.
Although the numbers of the principle nationalities in Malaga province have slightly increased, in some places not even the immigrant population has managed to stop the overall demographic decrease.
The city’s population drops
This is the case of Malaga city, whose population is going down. In 2009, the number of people on the population register grew by just 0.2%, thanks to almost 3,000 foreigners who registered; the first figures for 2010 show that during the past year the city has lost nearly 800 people, as in January there were 577,095 inhabitants compared with 577,884 in the same month of 2009. This is due to the continued exodus of Spanish residents to areas outside the city such as Alhaurín el Grande, Alhaurín de la Torre, Rincón de La Victoria, Torremolinos and Cártama.
The economic crisis has slowed down the arrival of immigrants to Malaga city; Town Hall statistics show that this year only 1,600 foreigners have registered on the population census, compared with 3,000 in 2009.
The Cruz de Humilladero district shows the largest drop, having lost 835 inhabitants during the past year even though its foreign population has not stopped growing and currently comprises more than 6,000 people. Although to a lesser degree, other districts have also lost population; these include Bailen-Miraflores (665 people); Carretera de Cádiz (465) and Centro (203), while Puerto de la Torre has gained almost one thousand people and Churriana, Campanillas and Palma-Palmilla continue to grow.
Source: Sur in English