|By David Eade
Look across the border or bay from Gibraltar and you see Spain. Yet the British influence is strong because nationals from the UK now make up one of the largest groups of foreign nationals living there. Slowly but surely it is becoming Little Britain.
The Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) has produced its latest census of the population of the Campo de Gibraltar which has undergone major changes in recent years.
The foreign population over the last decade has risen from 4,832 people to 23,702 or 8.3 per cent of the entire population. Of course that represents foreign residents who have registered as living there with the town hall. As many Britons do not go on to the padrón the total is likely to be much higher across all groups especially EU citizens. I wonder how many Gibraltarians who chose or who are forced to live in Spain register at their town hall.
The fasting growing sector is Moroccans: there are now 5,361 of them and is just over the total of all foreign nationals ten years ago. Moroccans are largely concentrated in Algeciras where they are the largest foreign grouping: hardly surprising given the frequently ferry links with their home country.
However the largest group of foreigners across the seven municipalities that make up the Campo de Gibraltar are described by the Spanish as ‘inglesa’ but of course they could be English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish or even Gibraltarian. They total 5,711 and are concentrated in La Línea and San Roque. For the densest concentration of foreign residents you have to go to Jimena de la Frontera where they account for 18.7 per cent of the population. Jimena is very popular with Gibraltarians and Britons who work on the Rock. Here ‘los ingleses’ make up 565 of the local residents but as a foreign grouping the Rumanians are way out in front on 921.
The border town of La Línea has 5,065 foreigners or 7.2 per cent of the total. The British are top dogs here with 1,981 censored residents. No doubt the real figure is much higher and includes Gibraltarians. The INE explains this high number on the proximity of Gibraltar and the luxury urbanisation of La Alcaidesa. However other EU nationalities that may well work on the Rock such as French, Germany and Italians are also in residence in numbers.
There are also numerous Britons in San Roque. They are the biggest grouping, 2,037 out of 4,957: this meaning foreign residents make up 16.5 per cent of the population. Again the INE cites Gibraltar as being the major attraction to Britons along with Sotogrande.
Los Barrios is the third Campo de Gibraltar municipality where Britons are the largest grouping but interestingly here Gibraltarians are spoken of as a distinct grouping. There are 1,601 foreigners making up 7.5 per cent of the total with Britons on 565. Again the closeness of Gibraltar is mentioned but also the enclave of Gibraltarians who have made their homes in Guadacorte.
Of course Spaniards still predominate but the numbers of foreigners are on the increase. If Britons and Gibraltarians are on the padron then they are eligible to vote in the town hall elections. If they exercise their vote then they could have an important role to play in cross border politics.
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