Spain Population Dips First Time on Record as Immigrants Flee

Spain’s population declined for the first time since records began in 1971 as immigrants fled the recession-plagued country last year.

The number of foreign immigrants that left Spain in 2012 was 18 percent higher than a year earlier, as 417,023 people exited the country, according to a report from the National Institute of Statistics, or INE, published today. Romanians, Moroccans and Ecuadorians lead the emigration of foreign nationals.

Spain is in the worst recession in its democratic history with record unemployment weighing on domestic demand. The jobless rate is at 27 percent, more than twice the euro-region average.

More Spaniards, in particular adults between 25 and 44, also left the country in 2012, with 59,724 departing, 7.7 percent more than in 2011. While the majority picked Ecuador, the U.K. and France as their destination, there was “significant growth” in Spanish citizens moving to Latin American countries, INE said.

The number of Spaniards moving to Colombia almost tripled, while Peru also was popular, INE said. In contrast, China and Bulgaria were less sought after than in 2011, according to the report.

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