23 Apr 2013

Immigrants leaving Spain

5:59 am on 23 April 2013

Spain's population fell last year for the first time since the 1940s as immigrants fled a long recession that has sent unemployment soaring.

The National Statistics Institute said the number of residents fell by 206,000 to 47.1 million. The BBC reports the decline was entirely accounted for by foreigners.

Immigrants from Ecuador and Colombia showed the biggest fall.

It was the first time a population drop had been recorded in official statistics since 1946, although up to 1998 figures were published roughly every decade, rather than annually.

The institute said the biggest fall in registered foreign residents was among South Americans, especially Ecuadoreans and Colombians.

The figures do not take into account many Spaniards who have left in search of work but are still on the census.