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MADRID — Four million foreigners now live in Spain, making up nine percent of the population.
Latest figures showed that of 44.3m people living in Spain, more than four million foreigners had registered with the authorities up to the end of July.
The Spanish national statistics office said between January and July, the foreign population had risen by ten percent, with 375,000 new people registering.
It means that since 1998, the number of foreigners have risen from 1.6 percent of the population, or 0.63m, to nine percent, or 4m, in 2005.
The biggest rise came during the first four months of the year, during a government amnesty for foreign workers which brought almost 700,000 applications for legal status, mainly from Africans and Latin Americans.
The government relaxed rules to bring people from the so-called ‘black economy’ to offer them the status of legal workers.
It was designed to make them pay social security and bring extra government revenue.
In terms of nationality, Moroccans are still the biggest group of foreigners (505,400), followed by Ecuadorians (491,800), then Romanians (314,300), Colombians (268,900) and Britons (224,800).
However, it is widely believed at least the same number again of Britons have not registered.
(Posted on September 9, 2005)