Census figures are only gathered, analysed and published for a given year when the following year is nearly, but not quite, over, meaning the numbers for 2018 are considered to be the most recent – those for 2019 will be released in the last few days of December 2020.
Only the northern coastal regions and Asturias and Galicia, the land-locked western region of Extremadura, and the centre-northern territory of Castilla y León saw a decline in their headcount.
During the worst of the financial crisis, Spain’s population declined year upon year but has started to climb again, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
The provinces, and single-province regions, which have gained the most inhabitants – over 12% – since 2010 are the Balearic Islands, Almería, Málaga, Madrid, and the southern Basque province of Álava, of which the capital is Vitoria.
Those whose headcount has remained approximately the same are Ciudad Real, Valencia, Tarragona, Lleida, Zaragoza, and La Rioja.
All the coastal provinces of Andalucía – or the entire region except Córdoba and Jaén – have seen a population increase since 2010, as have the provinces of Barcelona, Girona, all those in the Basque Country, Navarra, Toledo, the Canary Islands, and the Spanish-owned city-provinces of Ceuta and Melilla, on the northern Moroccan coast.
Since 2010, provinces which have lost around 2% to 4% of their headcount include Castellón, Alicante, Huesca, Guadalajara, all of Extremadura, all of Galicia, Cantabria, Albacete, Córdoba, Jaén and León, with the main population exodus seen in the land-locked provinces in the north-west, plus Teruel (Aragón) and Cuenca (Castilla-La Mancha, sandwiched between Valencia and Madrid).
But in 2018 alone, the Comunidad Valenciana – made up of the provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Castellón – saw the third-highest climb in resident numbers, by 40,066, to a total of just over five million, of whom 786,000 live in its largest city, Valencia.
Andalucía witnessed the fourth-largest hike, to just over 8.4 million, with 29,832 more.
Madrid, with 6.7 million inhabitants, grew the most, with 85,315 additional names on the census, and Catalunya’s population as at the end of 2018 stood at nearly 7.7 million, with 75,152 additional residents.
Exactly a year, minus one day, ago, Spain’s population broke the 47 million barriers once again – it was registered as 47,026,208, compared with the total of 46,722,980 on New Year’s Eve 2017.
Asturias lost 5,444 names from its census in 2018, giving the region a total of 1.02 million, whilst Castilla y León shrunk by 9,616, to just under 2.4 million.
Extremadura reduced by 5,153 to just under 1.07 million, and Galicia lost 2,244 inhabitants, falling to just below 2.7 million.
Ceuta is home to 84,777 people or 367 fewer than at the end of 2017, whilst Melilla has 86,487 residents, after growing by 103 people.
In practice, given that population statistics are calculated according to the number of people registered on the padrón, or town headcount census – different from the electoral roll – in some cases, this may not reflect a rise in inhabitants.
An indeterminate number of people live in Spain but have never registered on the padrón, and may now only just have done so; also, some do not bother to de-register when they leave, meaning they could be on more than one padrón or show up as being resident when they have in fact left the country.
It is likely that the number of British nationals on record has slightly increased, or possibly will even more so by the time 2019 figures are released, due to an ongoing campaign by the British embassy in Spain to encourage UK nationals to get themselves registered to ensure they retain as many rights as possible post-Brexit.
The next couple of years could, conversely, see the number of British nationals decline on paper – a significant minority have voiced their intentions of or at least the fact that they are considering, obtaining Spanish citizenship as a precaution.
Anecdotal evidence points to the fact that the vast majority of Brits living in Spain intend to stay put after Brexit, and Spain is concerned to ensure that they are able to do so, that future emigrants from the UK will not be put off, and that British tourists continue to make the country their number one holiday choice.