The Balearic population has grown by 120,000 over the past five years

The number of immigrants in the Balearics will account for 50 per cent of the region's population by 2010. The Balearics is currently witnessing the biggest growth in population of the past 200 years, according to the regional Ministry for Trade and Industry. One of the main reasons for the population “boom” is the Balearics' economic attraction, in particular the tourist industry, while there is also a growing demand for domestic employees with more and more women in the work force. The latest figures show that last year, 38'000 immigrants moved to the Balearics while the population has increased by 120'000 over the past five years. On January 1, 2001, the population of the Balearics was 878'627 persons. Of these, 545'739 were born in the Balearics, 240'955 from other autonomous regions in Spain and 91'933 were foreign. Yesterday the Balearic Minister for Trade and Industry, vice-president Pere Sampol, presenting tomorrow's Demographic Study Conference in Palma, said that should the need ever arise for population growth to be controlled, “it can only be done so under a strict management programme with social, economic, cultural, environmental etc, criteria taken into account. “Under no concept is it legitimate to restrict the free movement of people unless it is part of a sustainability programme,” Sampol said. He also added that a team of experts are going to be asked to study the impact and consequences of further population growth in the Balearics. The Balearics, after Madrid, per capita, has the largest immigrant population in Spain. Of the 240'955 non-Balearic born Spaniards in the region, 93'153 are from Andalucia, 28'871 Catalonia, 22'542 from Castilla-La Mancha and 15'700 from Madrid. Of the 91'333 non-Spanish residents, 42'971 are European, 12'486 African, 23'032 are from South America, 3'249 Asian and 175 from Australasia. Professor of Human Geography at the Balearic University, Pere Salvá, said that one of the interesting phenomena about immigration in the Balearics is that while there are people from “poor” areas of the world, there are also people from highly developed European countries “which have also become competition for those from the Balearics,” he said. Balearic Minister for the Economy, Antoni Monserrat, said, with regards to the future, the “baby-boom” amongst the foreign population could have various consequences. Last year, 14 per cent of babies born in the region were to foreign mothers. He also stressed the high number of people coming to the Balearics to work in the domestic sector with demand for home help rising. Tomorrow's Demographic Study Day, at which immigration policies and social integration will be discussed, is part of the programme leading up to the Balearic Economic Congress to be held on March 1.

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