Spain’s Population Highest-Ever

Official figures are in for Spain’s population as at the start of 2020 and the country has begun a new decade with its largest headcount ever before.

At 47.1 million, this is the highest ever and the first time the nation has had more than 47 million people living in it. This is largely thanks to immigration, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), given that the birth rate is currently at its lowest since records began in 1941. The figures are actually only valid up to the middle of 2019, since the exact numbers up to the end of the year are still being calculated, but in the first six months of last year, the population rose by a total of 163,336.

Net migration was up at nearly 210,000, although deaths exceeded births by just over 45,000.  In the first six months of last year, 169,269 babies were born, but they were not enough to ‘replace’ the 214,218 people who died, but net migration – new immigrants versus those who left the country – was in positive figures, at 209,097.

A total of 348,625 new arrivals from foreign countries were recorded, whilst a total of 139,528 people – Spaniards and foreigners – left. This is the highest positive net migration figure since 2008, the first year in which data was collected for this phenomenon, and the year in which the financial crisis began.

Rising immigration is nearly always a sign that a country’s economy and job market is becoming more healthy, whilst rising emigration tends to show that, financially, a nation is doing less well, so increasing immigration is, in almost all cases – except in countries bordering conflict zones, which absorb the majority of refugees – positive news for the health of a given territory.

Brits are among these new foreign residents, although the threat of Brexit may have led some British nationals to return to the UK as a precaution, many are choosing to move abroad to escape any possible negative effects of the country’s departure from the EU.

Dénia in the north of the province of Alicante has reported that Brits are now its largest foreign national community for the first time since the Civil War. At 2.51% of its population of just under 44,000, totalling 1,104 residents, British nationals in Dénia have knocked their German counterparts into second place. 

Overall, 6,049 British nationals left Spain in the first six months of last year, but that is relatively few, compared with the 9,396 Moroccans and 16,525 Romanians who left.

After several consecutive years of population decline, Spain has been growing in resident numbers annually since 2015 – always a sign, in first-world nations, that the country’s economic health is improving. Of these, just over five million are foreigners. The total number of non-Spaniards is 5,023,279, although this does not include immigrants who have since taken Spanish citizenship; with more and more Brits expressing their intention to do this after Brexit, the actual number of foreigners, especially UK nationals, could decline, on paper, in the next few years, but purely because more of them have Spanish passports and are no longer counted as immigrants.

Final Year To Change Pesetas For Euros

Anyone who still has some of the €1.61 billion in pesetas in coins and notes in their homes needs to change them into euros before the end of this year or they will be stuck with them.

Notes minted after 1939 – the final year of the Civil War in which dictator General Franco came into power, a reign ended by his death in 1975 – can automatically be changed by the Bank of Spain; the only entity able to do so.

Any notes issued between 1936 and 1939 inclusive can also be exchanged, but Bank of Spain experts need to analyse them first, so it will not be an instant process. As for coins, only those which were still in circulation as at New Year’s Day 2002 can be exchanged. Coins that can be changed for euros include collectors’ and limited edition commemorative versions.

The Bank of Spain recommends anyone who still owns peseta coins and notes should show them to a collector first, since certain editions can be worth tens or even hundreds of euros. They do not need to be historic or antique – some peseta coins from as recently as 1995 can attract upwards of €100 and certain coins from the mid-to-late 1940s have fetched between €10,500 and €36,000 on auction sites.

This is clearly not the case with all peseta coins; only with certain ones that are considered highly-collectible, but as the description of these is long and often includes surprisingly ordinary-looking versions, it is always worth consulting a collector. Of course, it is unlikely all, or even the majority of the €1.61bn in pesetas still in circulation will be exchanged before the end of 2020. Many are held in boxes, purses and attics, in quantities worth barely a couple of cents, by holidaymakers who visited Spain during the 66 years between the 1936 versions and the last ones minted before the currency changed to euros, as souvenirs.

Spain adopted the euro at the beginning of 2002, although initially it ran parallel with the peseta. In the first year, many small businesses had problems giving customers change, even for smaller notes, because the physical currency available nationwide was limited.

Triple Transplant Patient Leads ‘Normal Life’ After Pioneering Surgery

Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron Hospital has carried out a triple transplant on a child who is now living a ‘normal life’ making it the first centre in the world to do so on a non-adult patient.

Iria, 10, was born with a gene mutation known as NEK8, which causes serious major organ developmental problems. The condition affects the heart, liver and kidneys, causes fibrosis and sclerosis of the tissues and affects the bones and the nervous system. She is quite possibly the only child to date with the condition who has lived beyond infancy. Babies born with the NEK8 gene mutation rarely survive beyond a foetus and they normally die within months of birth, since the condition progresses rapidly and the only solution is multiple organ transplants.

Said to be one of just 20 living patients on earth with the NEK8 mutation, Iria was diagnosed with a hypertrophic myocardiopathy at five months. An immediate transplant was carried out as the only way to save her, but at this point she had not been formally diagnosed. 

Iria was the first NEK8 patient in the world to undergo a successful heart transplant, but the condition would persist and she was not expected to live beyond infancy. At the end of 2019, however, she underwent a kidney and liver transplant. Her liver was said to be too large for her age and was showing signs of fibrosis and her kidneys had failed, meaning she needed to be on dialysis. Surgeons said the double transplant was her only possible chance and there was no other way of treating her.

Following a 12-hour operation, Iria is now said to be ‘free from disease’.

The latter two organs were implanted in the same operation and although complications arose within the first 24 hours, she has now fully recovered.

Doctors say her prognosis in all areas is exactly the same as in any other patient who has undergone an organ transplant, meaning she is likely to live a normal life expectancy and the lifestyle of any other 10-year-old girl.