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Spanish women bussed into villages to slow population drain

A Spanish dating association is trying to slow a population drain from the country’s beleaguered central villages, introducing bachelors to women bussed in from Madrid with hopes of ending a bride shortage. Candeleda, a town of 6,000 on the banks of the picturesque Lobera River, hosted a weekend fiesta to welcome 68 women for a meet-and-greet with the village’s single men.

Ancient cave paintings show Candeleda has been inhabited for some 5,000 years. Resident Jose Miguel, 67, said he would hate to see its population dwindle after such a long history.

“I’ve checked out the few widows and single women here,” said Mr Miguel. “I signed up for this to meet new ladies and to hopefully show them the beauty of my town.”

The group, Asocamu, was set up in 1995 to promote rural re-population by organising parties for single men and women, but Spain’s painful financial crisis and the lure of city jobs has made the need more pressing than ever. Statistics show that of Spain’s 5,000 villages up to 100 are under imminent threat of abandonment.