More Portuguese making the move to Spain

RECENT FIGURES released by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics show that an increasing number of Portuguese are emigrating to Spain. The neighbouring country is now the second most popular destination for Portuguese emigrants, behind the United Kingdom. Angola has also seen an influx of Portuguese and is now the third most popular destination.

In January 2006, 80,300 Portuguese lived in Spain. This is 14,000 more than the same time the year before, representing an increase of 21 per cent. The Portuguese presence in Spain mainly increased in the regions of Galiza (13,000), Madrid (10,000), Cataluña (8,900) and Castilla/León (8,200). Spain has a total of 3.8 million legal foreigners, including residents from Morocco (535,000), Ecuador (399,000), Romania (382,000) and the UK (274,000).

The explosion of Portuguese emigration to Spain is only paralleled by the movement to the United Kingdom and Angola. According to the Portuguese Consulate in London: “Fifteen years ago, there were 30,000 Portuguese residents in the UK. Today, the precise calculation is impossible, due to the fact that a compulsory register does not exist in the cities of the European Union.” Estimates by the British Statistics Authority say that there are around 540,000 Portuguese in the UK, 400,000 of which are in London and its surrounding suburbs. Apparently, the movement towards London is mainly due to the successful bid for the 2012 Olympics. Many Portuguese in the civil construction industry are moving to the capital because of the available, well-paid work.

Over 12,000 people left for Angola last year to aid the reconstruction process of a country devastated by civil war. Two years ago, there were less than 20,000 people in Angola, however, currently, it is estimated that there are 45,000 Portuguese in this former colony.

Trends show that around 100,000 Portuguese emigrate each year, but, in many cases, it is on a temporary basis and many end up returning. In 1997, 4.5 million Portuguese lived abroad, rising to 5.1 million by 2006, an increase of 55,000 people a year.

In addition to the 80,000 legal Portuguese residents in Spain, it is estimated that there are 20,000 seasonal workers, who work on precarious contracts at the vineyards in Andalucia and Rioja in the summer months.