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Background Information | Spain |

Spain Background Information Historical Development Political Development Foreign Population Refuge and Asylum Citizenship Irregular Migration Future Challenges References

Background Information

Axel Kreienbrink

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Traditionally an emigration country, Spain has been transformed within the space of a few decades to become one of the most important immigration countries in Europe. Legislation has been modified many times in order to keep pace with this ever-changing situation.

Spain (bpb) Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de

Since the middle of the 1980s Spain's foreign population has risen nineteen-fold to 4.52 million. From the beginning, the focus has been on controlling the flow of immigrants and combating illegal migration, which represents a central problem for Spain. Although questions concerning the social integration of immigrants were not initially addressed, they are increasingly gaining importance. While immigration has become a key political and social issue in public debate, discussion over what it will mean for Spain and the Spanish self-image in the future is only starting to get off the ground.

Background InformationSpain

Capital: Madrid
Languages: Spanish (Castilian), Catalan (regional), Basque (regional), Galician (regional)
Area: 504 782 km2
Population (2008): 46 063 511 (INE, Padrón municipal)
Population density: 91.3 inhabitants per km2
Population growth: 1.9 % (2007/08), 1.1 % (2006/07), 1.4 % (2005/06), 2.1 % (2004/2005)
Labour force participation rate (1/2008): 73.1 % (INE, Encuesta de Población Activa)
Foreign population (2008): 5 220 577 Persons (11.3 %) (INE, Padrón municipal)
Percentage of foreign employees amongst gainfully employed: 14.4 % (1/2008)
Unemployment rate: 9.6 % (1/2008), 8.6 % (4/2007), 8.3 % (4/2006) (INE, Encuesta de Población Activa)
Unemployment rate of foreign population: 14.6 % (1/2008), 12.4 % (4/2007), 12.0 % (4/2006) (INE, Encuesta de Población Activa)
Religions: 35 mln. Catholics (77 %), approx. 1.2 mln. Protestants and free churches (2.7 %), approx. 1.1 mln. Muslims (2.4 %), approx. 48 000 Jews (0.1 %) (estimations, International Religious Freedom Report 2007)


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Axel Kreienbrink is head of the unit "Migration and Integration Research: Focus on Worlwide Migration, Islam and Demography" at the Federal Department for Migration and Refugees in Nuremberg.