Nearly 100,000 Spaniards moved abroad last year, the highest figure since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, new statistics show.
Figures released on Thursday by the National Statistics Institute (INE) show that 98,934 Spaniards left the country in 2015, a 23% rise from the previous year.
Of these, 64,136 were born in Spain and 34,798 acquired Spanish citizenship later in life.
There were more deaths than births last year, and more emigration than immigration
The INE data also shows a slight predominance of male emigration: 52.1% of Spanish emigrants in 2015 were men.
Emigrants’ main destinations last year were Britain, France, Germany, United States and Ecuador. In the latter case, the statistics show that emigrants were mostly Ecuadoreans who obtained Spanish nationality and are now returning home with their Spanish-born children.
There was also a rise in the number of Spaniards returning home after a period abroad. Last year 52,227 individuals came back to Spain, representing a 27.5% rise from 2014. Comparing those who left with those who returned, there was negative net migration of 46,707.
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As for foreigners who emigrated last year, most hailed from Romania, Morocco and Italy. For the first time since 2010, more foreigners arrived in Spain (291,387) than those who left (253,069), bucking a trend that began with the economic crisis and the lack of jobs.
The data also shows that Spain’s population has fallen for the fourth year in a row. In 2015 there was a drop of 11,142 people, bringing the national total to 46,438,442. That was because there were more deaths than births last year, and because there was more emigration than immigration.
Broken down by regions, Castilla y León lost the biggest share of population (23,209 fewer residents), followed by Asturias and Aragón. At the other end of the spectrum, the Balearic Islands added 9,648 new residents. Madrid and the Canary Islands also registered significant population growth.
English version by Susana Urra.