THE population of Spain has shrunk for the first time on record, with immigrants leaving the country to escape the economic crisis.
Figures from the National Statistics Institute show the number of residents dropped by almost 206,000 to 47.1 million last year – a decline entirely accounted for by foreigners.
The biggest fall in registered immigrants was among South Americans, especially Ecuadoreans and Colombians.
With youth unemployment now more than 50%, many Spaniards are also contributing to this mass exodus by leaving the country to seek work overseas.
The population of native Spaniards grew by 10,000 in 2012, a smaller increase than in recent years and one which only minimally offset the fall in registered foreigners.