A Brit in a Benalmádena pub. / EFE

Six out of every ten new residents in Malaga province are foreigners

The British once again lead the local foreign population and are the biggest international community, with 55,758 living in the province


Foreign immigration continues to be the principal cause of the population increase in Malaga. Of the 20,652 inhabitants that the province has gained in the past year, 13,302 (64%) are from other countries. In fact, 16.7% of the resident population is foreign, making Malaga one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the country. The national average is currently 11.6%.

Internal immigration, in other words, arrivals from other parts of Spain, has also been an important factor. This ability to attract newcomers considerably makes up for a natural birth rate which is becoming increasingly lower, combined with an ageing population which means the difference between the number of births and deaths is getting smaller and smaller, when not actually negative.

The British community is the one that grew most in 2021, with 2,278 more registered residents from the UK in Malaga province. This was not as many as in 2020 (+3,616), but is in line with 2019 (+2,388). In the past four years, the British community in the province has gained more than 9,000 residents, recovering from the reduction in previous years to around 57,000. Nevertheless, this is still far from the 76,931 British citizens who were on the population register in 2013.

The number of Ukrainian residents has grown by nearly 50% in ten years and it is now the fourth-largest foreign community

From 2014, the loss of the pound's purchasing power and the rise in property prices led many residents to return to the UK.

Effects of Brexit

Brexit then turned out to be an unexpected incentive for the number of British residents to register themselves as living in Spain, because they were worried about a possible loss of their rights after Britain left the EU and decided to formalise their presence on the Costa del Sol. This effect continued into 2021.

After the British, the most numerous nationalities to have taken up residence in Malaga are Italian (+1,540), Argentinian (+1,056), Swedish (+839), German (+839) and Russian (+828).

In contrast, in the past year Malaga has lost Rumanian residents (-232), Chinese (-195), Nigerian (-153), Bulgarian (-113) and Bolivian (-82).

Biggest foreign communities

The biggest community of foreigners in Malaga continues to be British, by far, with 55,758 registered as living in the province. Next come the Moroccans (33,985), Italians (15,889), Ukrainians (11,567), Rumanians (11,065), Germans (10,344), Colombians (8,806), Argentineans (8,650), Chinese (8,298) and Russians (8,216).

The sharp increase in the Ukrainian community in recent years is notable, coinciding with the start of Russia's hostilities towards this Eastern European country. In one decade the Ukrainian population in Malaga province has risen by nearly 50%, and it is now the fourth-largest foreign community.