Marbella's foreign community makes up over one third of the population. Josele
Foreign residents make up one third of Marbella's population

Foreign residents make up one third of Marbella's population

In Nueva Andalucía more than 82 per cent of those registered on the town hall's 'padrón' are not Spanish, with Brits making up the majority

Joaquina Dueñas


Tuesday, 4 April 2023, 12:53


According to data collected by Spain’s national institute of statistics (INE), Marbella exceeded 150,000 inhabitants in 2022 for the first time in its history. Although the town hall’s 'padrón' (census register) registered 161,870 people this year. Of these, 51,024 are foreign residents; almost a third of the population.

The growth of the foreign population in recent years in Marbella has been considerable, with more than 11,000 people since 2019; and 4,670 in the last year alone, rising from 46,354 to 51,024 at the beginning of this financial year.

"The number is growing day by day," pointed out Remedios Bocanegra, councillor with responsibilty for foreigners at the town hall. With her team she organises information campaigns to encourage foreign nationals who come to live or to spend long periods of time in the town to register on the padrón.

"The main fear is to do with taxation," she pointed out, which is why she runs regular information campaigns to explain that "registration has nothing to do with it. It is to get more services for your town, for your street and for your home", she added.

Brexit and the war in Ukraine

In terms of distribution of foreign residents, most are in Nueva Andalucía, which has the largest number of foreign residents both in absolute and relative terms. Of the 19,909 registered residents in this area, 16,381 are foreigners, which represents slightly more than 82 per cent.

This is followed by Marbella, with 14,008, San Pedro, with 11,812 and Las Chapas, with 8,823. However, as far as percentages are concerned, the order changes and after Nueva Andalucía would be Las Chapas, to the east of the town, with a 56 per cent foreign population, San Pedro, with 27 per cent, and Marbella with 16 per cent.

In terms of nationalities, there are two main issues that have changed the trends in recent years. "Brexit and the war in Ukraine," says Bocanegra. "With Brexit, the British came to occupy first place in the ranking of nationalities, overtaking the Moroccans who, traditionally, had been the most numerous," she pointed out.

However, this trend that has already begun to slow down, as they have gone from 5,697 in 2022 to 5,647 this year, although they still occupy first place. The town has also seen a fall in the number of Moroccan residents, going from 5,116 last year to 5,020.


In 2022, Marbella had 2,817 residents from Russia and 2,719 from Ukraine, occupying the third and fourth positions in the list of nationalities. However, in 2023, there has been an exchange of positions, with Ukrainians occupying third place, with the largest increase in population by nationality in recent years, reaching 4,121. Russian residents move to fourth place also with a considerable increase, adding a total of 3,156 residents.

"Only in the first month after the invasion of Ukraine began, 440 Ukrainians were registered", recalls Bocanegra, who also highlights the arrival of immigrants from Russia who are leaving the country due to the economic and political situation.

By districts, there are more Moroccans in both Marbella and San Pedro, while those from the United Kingdom are the majority foreign population in Nueva Andalucía and Las Chapas.

The town hall register lists a number of residents who are the only people from their country. This could be because they are the only ones who have registered or because they really are the only individuals from those countries living in the town. They are from Mauritius, Burundi, San Marino, Trinidad and Tobago, Gabon, Namibia, Belize, Tajikistan, Uganda, Liechtenstein, Saint Lucia, Angola and Vanuatu.

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