One of every four people in Barcelona is now a foreign national

The number of foreign nationals living in Barcelona has risen by 10.4% since 2023 and, with more than 430,000 people, already accounts for 25.4% of the city's total population.

11/06/2024 - 08:33 h

Barcelona is increasingly diverse, as reflected in the figures from the latest municipal register of residents published by Barcelona City Council. Specifically, on 1 January 2024 432,556 foreign nationals were registered as living in the city, a quarter of its total population.

This 25.4% of foreign residents is a historic maximum in the city’s recent history and consolidates the upward trend it has been experiencing for years. For the first time, one in every four residents in Barcelona is a foreign national and, as has become usual in the last few years, the international community is largely responsible for the city’s population increase. In fact, the number of Spanish residents has only risen by 0.1%, an increase that, although small, is a change of direction from the predominantly negative growth of recent years.

If you count those who were born in another country, the number is even higher: Of all the people registered as living in Barcelona, 572,459 were born abroad. This is 33.6% of the total, i.e. a third of the city’s residents. The percentage has risen by over two points since 2023 and has increased sevenfold since the year 2000. Of these people, 27.6% have Spanish nationality, mainly due to Spain’s dual nationality agreements with various Latin American countries

Where does Barcelona’s international community come from?

The diversity of nationalities remains an iconic feature of the city: in addition to Spanish nationals, the city is already home to people of 180 different nationalities.

By continent, the trend that started last year continues and with 159,823 people, Americans again form the largest group. They are followed in second place by Europeans, with 150,994 people.

In terms of nationality, the most common ones are Italian (over 50,000 people), Colombian (28,551), Pakistani (24,706), Chinese (almost 22,000) and Peruvian (21,090).

Looking at the people registered as living in Barcelona who were born abroad, Argentinians form the largest group, with 45,636 people. The report highlights an interesting fact about the people in this group: only 30.4% of them are Argentinian as their first nationality; 34.2% are Italian first, and 32.7% are Spanish first. This is because Argentinians and people from other South American countries are eligible for Italian nationality if they have Italian ancestry.

Their Favourite Districts

Foreign residents are unevenly spread in the city: the highest numbers of foreign nationals can be found in the districts of Eixample, Sant Martí and Ciutat Vella. Although there are people from all five continents in every district in Barcelona, not all nationalities are equally represented.

For example, the districts of Horta-Guinardó, Nou Barris and Sant Andreu are home to the most Americans, whereas Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, Gràcia and Eixample have more non-Spanish Europeans. Ciutat Vella also stands out as the district with the largest number of Asian people.

The Profile of Foreign Residents

The foreign population is mainly a young adult population, with an average age of 34.6 years, which is below the Spanish population’s average of 47 years. Its gender distribution is fairly balanced, with a slight male majority overall.

It also presents an interesting academic profile. Of all foreign nationals living in Barcelona, 43.2% have a university education or an advanced vocational training qualification. There is also a high level of education among those from North America (76% with higher education qualifications), as well as Australia and New Zealand (75%). Among EU nationals, this figure is 65.1%. Women have higher educational attainment than men of all origins.