Newly released figures from the Spanish government paint a fascinating picture of the expat population residing there. Long popular among Brits for its climate and culture, not to mention the reasonably-priced property, it seems that it’s not just expats from the UK who are drawn to Spain’s shores.
According to Spain’s Ministry of Employment the country boasts almost five million foreign nationals. This is despite the fact that in recent years many Brits have returned home thanks to the worsening value of the Euro, together with concerns over “illegally built” Spanish properties which has seen some lose their much dreamed-of villas.
According to the Spanish government the most popular male name among expats in Spain is Mohamed (or Mohammed). The two different spellings of this name account for roughly 60,000 expats making it far and away the most expat name in Spain.
Coming in next, but with just 15,003 expats, is the name Ahmed. This is followed by Said. All four of these names are of Moroccan origin. A Moroccan name also tops the most popular female expat names; in this case it is Fatima.
As these statistics might suggest Spain is becoming ever more popular among Moroccan immigrants. An estimated 771,000 Moroccans now live legally within Spain’s borders but they are hardly the only nationality enjoying Spain’s predictable sunshine and warmth.
The figures show that the largest group of immigrants living in Spain are actually from Romania. There are estimated to be just shy of a million Romanians in Spain, accounting for 16% of the entire Spanish expat population.
This is reflected in the lists of expat names. In terms of female names Maria and Elena rank as numbers two and three respectively. Fully six of the top ten most popular female names are Romanian, while Romanian male names make up three of the top ten names among immigrants.
Perhaps rather surprisingly British names seem oddly under-represented in these “top ten” lists, despite Brits being the third most common group of expats. Not a single name made it onto these lists, though the figures do suggest that the top three names for British expats living in Spain are John, David and Susan.
It is interesting to consider just what sort of an effect this multiculturalism may be having in Spain. Will these different nationalities attempt to retain their national identity, or will intermarriage become more prevalent with such a strong (and growing) expat population?
Just as fascinatingly, how long will it be before these many Moroccan and Romanian names start to make their way into the general populace? Surely it is only a matter of time until native Spaniards start to consider these popular options as possible, if somewhat unusual, baby names of the future.