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Live News From Spain As It Happens

Keep up to date with all the latest news from Spain as it happens. The blog will be updated constantly throughout the day bringing you all the latest stories as they break.

Spain population hits all-time high
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Photo source: Unsplash 

Spain is now home to more inhabitants than ever before. Census data published this week by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), puts the number of people registered as resident in Spain on January 1st 2022 at 47,475,420, a historical high, and 90,313 more inhabitants compared to the previous year (a 0.19% increase).

This figure, according to the INE, represents a recovery from the decline recorded in 2020, a year marked by deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the recovery is mainly due to a rise in the foreign population, which increased by 102,784 people to 5,542,932 people and now accounts for 11.7% of the total, a trend that has not been recorded since 2013.

A decade ago, the percentage of foreigners registered as resident was 12.1%, a figure that then fell to 9.8% in 2017, the lowest figure in the last decade. The remaining population, 41,932,488, all has Spanish nationality, a number that has dropped by 12,471 people compared to the previous year. 

The average age of the population registered in the census is 44.1 years. The average age of Spaniards is 45 years and that of foreigners overall is 37.1 years. The average age of residents from other European Union countries is 39.6 years. 

The highest average ages among the predominant nationalities are found among citizens of the United Kingdom (54.1 years), Germany (50.0) and France (43). On the other hand, the lowest ones correspond to citizens of Honduras (30.4 years), Pakistan (31.1) and Morocco (32). 

The regions with the highest number of foreigners are Andalusia (741,378), Aragon (164,762) and Asturias (45,630); those with the lowest presence of non-Spanish nationals are La Rioja (41,755), Melilla (11,675) and Ceuta (4,910).

Residents from other European Union countries account for a total of 1,617,911 people out of the almost 5.5 million non-Spaniards. Of these, the most numerous are Romanians (623,097), followed by Italians (273,889) and Germans (115,099). 

Of the remaining foreigners registered, the following nationalities stand out as having a high representation: Moroccans (883,243), Colombians (314,679) and Britons (293,171).

As a result of the war with Russia, the number of Ukrainian residents increased considerably in 2022 and they are now among the 20 predominant foreign nationalities in Spain (111,443).



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The big freeze – unusually low temperatures across much of Spain
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Forecast lows of -9ºC mean that 13 Spanish regions in central and northern Spain are still on yellow alert for icy conditions according to the state meteorological agency, AEMET.

Castilla y León is one of the regions where temperatures are expected to drop as low as -9ºC, especially around Ávila, Soria and Segovia, in parts of Sanabria, in León and in Burgos, with the odd area seeing the mercury drop as low as-11ºC.

It’s a similar story in La Rioja, which remains on yellow alert for lows of -9ºC across most of the region, dropping as low as -11ºC on high ground.

In the Community of Madrid lows of -4ºC are expected around the town of Henares, and lows of -6ºC in the southern and western parts of the region.

Every single province in Castilla-La Mancha, except for Ciudad Real, is on yellow alert for temperatures between -4ºC and -6ºC, and even as low as -9ºC in Parameras de Molina (Guadalajara).

In the north-eastern half of the country, the thermometers will dip as low as -6ºC in Aragón, especially in the Pyrenees, in Albarracín, in Jiloca, Gúdar and Maestrazgo.

There’s a similar forecast for Catalonia, where temperatures as low as -6ºC are also expected in the Pre-Pyrenees, the Pyrenees and the Valle de Arán.



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Government to ban regional authorities from excluding newly-registered citizens
Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Council of Ministers has approved the preliminary draft of a new law on social services, leaving overall power, as it is now, in the hands of the autonomous communities, but establishing a common framework of minimum services with which all regional authorities will have to comply. Within this framework, services deemed to be essential will have to be provided to all citizens, regardless of how long they have been registered in a particular area.

What was approved last week is only a first step, with the draft bill set to pass through the Council of Ministers again in a few weeks’ time and, subsequently, be debated in Congress. Once it receives the green light from the legislature, regional authorities and the Ministry of Social Rights will have to agree on which social services are to be considered essential, thus establishing the basic benefits that all autonomous regions will be obliged to guarantee to every citizen.

The preliminary draft already gives some clues about the reach of this new ruling that aims to "modernise services" and establish "a common minimum floor of care throughout the country as well as a common information system". The previous requirement to have been on an area’s census for a certain amount of time in order to access a service or basic benefit will be removed. This will benefit citizens who have moved from other regions of country and foreigners who have emigrated to Spain.

With respect to the latter, the new regulation establishes that "all persons with effective residence in the Spanish State are entitled to the rights contained within this law, without any distinction or exclusion whatsoever". It thus guarantees the universal provision of all the services deemed to be essential by the regional authorities and the central government, since it states that "foreigners, whatever their administrative situation, will have access to the basic services and benefits included in the common catalogue of essential services and benefits".

Right to mobility

Although they will no longer be able to set a minimum period of census registration as a requirement for the provision of social services, regional authorities will continue to have the power to require those who wish to access these benefits to register in their area. This, however, will not prevent beneficiaries of social services who spend time outside their autonomous community from receiving the same benefits in another part of Spain.



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Joy in the ski resorts as the first major snowfalls of the season arrive
Monday, January 16, 2023

Portalet Valley, Formigal

The first big snowfalls of the season started falling in the early hours of Monday morning and have brought smiles to the faces of skiers, snowboarders and ski resort staff alike.

The state meteorological agency, AEMET, forecasts continuing heavy snowfall for most of Spain’s mountainous regions right through until Thursday.

It has not gone unnoticed across the social media networks that this latest weather front has been named Gerard, but AEMET was quick to clarify it has absolutely nothing to do with the heavily trending hit by Shakira that lambasts her former partner, Gerard Piqué.

In a message on Twitter, AEMET said "The assignment of this name is a complete coincidence. It was the French meteorological service (Météo-France) which published the name Gérard at the beginning of the season, in September, which in the current context is ironic." 



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'Rolling Stone' ranking: Who are Spain's 'greatest singers of all time'?
Monday, January 9, 2023

TWO Spanish singers have made it into Rolling Stone magazine's 200 'greatest of all time' ranking – both of them women, but only one of them still living.

Late and living legends from 100 years of pop - some only from the last four years - go down in music history through Rolling Stone's ranking (photo: Rolling Stone on Instagram)

Aretha Franklin, Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Frank Sinatra, Prince, and Marvin Gaye are among the ranking that covers 100 years of pop, according to the publication, and which differs considerably from its 2008 ranking of the '100 Greatest Singers of All Time'.

In the latter, 'the results skewed towards classic rock and singers from the 1960s and 1970s', Rolling Stone says, but the late 2022 list, at twice the length, is far more diverse.

“Iconic Indian playback singer Lata Mangeshkar lands between Amy Winehouse and Johnny Cash, and salsa queen Celia Cruz is up there in the rankings with Prince and Marvin Gaye,” it reads.


Aretha Franklin number one; Céline's absence leaves fans fuming

When the ranking was printed, fans of legendary Canadian artist Céline Dion – who has always been equally lauded for her more upbeat songs in her native French as for her heart-rending ballads in English – reacted furiously on social media after she failed to appear in the top 200.

“Keep in mind that this is the Greatest Singers list, not the Greatest Voices list,” Rolling Stone countered, although this comment did little to appease Céline's worldwide followers.

Rolling Stone has huge R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for Aretha Franklin - the late ‘queen of soul’ is named ‘greatest singer of all time’ in the new ranking (photo: Mike Bouchard/Flickr)

Singers included are modern and classic, alive or not – R&B star Aaliyah, who died in 2001 aged 22, is at number 40, and Nirvana lead voice Kurt Cobain, who died aged 27, is at number 36 – and range from Adele at 22 to Elvis at 17, Nobel Literature Prize winner Bob Dylan at 15, and John Lennon not making the top 10, coming in at 12.

From number 10 upwards are Al Green, Otis Redding, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

Aretha Franklin is at number one, described as 'a force of nature' and 'a work of genius', and the top five is completed by Whitney Houston ('the standard-bearer for R&B vocals'), Sam Cooke, Billie Holiday, and Mariah Carey.


Mariachi and Ranchera queen Rocío Dúrcal

One Spanish artist makes the top 150 – soul-pop legend Rocío Dúrcal enters at number 139, ahead of Barbra Streisand (147), half-Ecuadorian Latin pop diva Christina Aguilera (141) and U2's Bono (140).

Rocío Dúrcal was as famous in Latin America, especially México, as in her native Spain during her 43-year career (photo by Spain's national television and radio broadcasting company RTVE)

Born María de los Ángeles de las Heras Ortiz in Madrid, married to Antonio Morales Barreto for 36 years until her death, mum of Shaila, Carmen and Antonio and grandmother to Christian, ended up selling over 40 million records in her lifetime, making her the Spanish female with the most sales in history outside her native country.

Her first album, Las Películas de Rocío Dúrcal ('The Films of Rocío Dúrcal'), was released in 1963, several months before her 19th birthday and, after an average of one per year for the rest of her life, her final album, Alma Ranchera ('Ranchera Soul') was launched by BMG México in 2004, the year she turned 60.



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Value-added tax reduced on staple groceries
Friday, January 6, 2023

CUTTING value-added tax on basic foodstuffs has already borne fruit for households in Spain, and the move will continue for at least the first six months of 2023, the national government confirms.

Spain's government slashes tax on basic food items (photo: Flickr)

From Sunday (January 1), IVA – as this tax is known in mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands – is no longer charged on milk, bread, cheese, eggs, fruit, vegetables, cereals and pulses, which previously attracted the lowest rate of 4%.

Middle-rate IVA, currently 10%, which normally applies to pasta and cooking oil, has been reduced to 5% for these goods.

Consumers remain sceptical, saying they expect supermarkets will simply raise their prices and the public will not benefit from the tax cut, but the government says this will not be allowed.

Stores are not permitted to take advantage of lower IVA to charge more and increase their profits.

Supermarket bosses stress that the IVA element is only a small part of the end price, meaning it is not clear whether costs to customers will continue to soar.

Depending upon the goods in question, price tags have risen by anything from 10% to 100% - as an example, stores' own-brand milk has gone up by 61%, from approximately 57 cents a litre to 93 cents.

National authorities say groceries affected by the IVA reduction must not go up in price for four months, although it is unclear whether this period will be extended to include the whole six months of reduced value-added tax, nor whether the IVA cut will go on for longer.

Major supermarket chains say the actual impact on home finances through lower IVA will depend upon the type of goods individual customers typically buy, although the Association of Finance Consumers in Spain (ASUFIN) has carried out research to try to predict the levels of savings possible.



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Spain's 'chime babies': First newborns of 2023
Wednesday, January 4, 2023

THE first baby to be born in Spain in 2023 is Iratxe, who came into the world exactly on the stroke of midnight at Madrid's Gregorio Marañón hospital weighing 3.72 kilos (8lb 3.2oz).

She and her mum Andrea are said to be doing well.

Zakaria was the second baby to be born in Spain in 2023, just seconds after the chimes. Here he is with his mum Meryem at Girona's Palamós Hospital

Iratxe was followed seconds later by Zakaria, in Girona's Palamós Hospital, weighing 3.18 kilos (7lb 1.7oz), to parents Meryem and Mohammed, who live in Palafrugell, around 12 kilometres from the maternity ward.

At just one minute after midnight marked the start of the New Year, Aaron was born in Málaga to mum Érika, weighing 4.2 kilos (9lb 4.15oz) and Alejandro in Almería, being the first two births of 2023 in Andalucía, and Diego Gómez García in Valencia's La Fe Hospital, weighing 3.65 kilos (just over 8lb).

Aarón with his mum Érika soon after the birth at 00.01, the joint first baby for Andalucía along with Alejandro from Almería

Before the first hour of the year was out, Jimena's mum welcomed her at 00.10 in Murcia's La Arrixaca hospital – a tiny 2.83 kilos (6lb 3.8oz) - Amelia was born in Fuerteventura General Hospital at 00.23, weighing 2.89 kilos (6lb 5.9oz), the first baby of the year in the Canary Islands, and Gabriel came into the world in Laredo hospital in Cantabria at 00.36, weighing 2.91 kilos (6lb 6.6oz).

At around the same time as Gabriel, Yessica and Antón welcomed their son Antón at the Virgen de Altagracia in their home town of Manzanares, Ciudad Real province – the first baby of the year in Castilla-La Mancha, Antón Junior weighed a healthy 3.38 kilos (7lb 7.2oz).

Also slipping in just before midnight chimed in the Canary Islands – where her date of birth would have been recorded as December 31, 2022 – was Mahelet Arias Castro, who started life at 00.54 at Logroño's San Pedro University Hospital, making her the first baby of 2023 in La Rioja.



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Best-ranked Roscón de Reyes and cava: Consumer group gives its verdict
Tuesday, January 3, 2023

EVEN though the festive season is now over for most of the world, the great news for anyone spending the holidays in Spain is that the country makes use of the full 12 days of Christmas – presents are given on the night of January 5 when the Magi parade through towns, or the Three Kings, as they are known uniquely here, and the following day is a public holiday.

Roscón de Reyes, a sweet treat to celebrate the arrival of the Magi, or ‘Three Kings’ (photo: Flickr)

Which means there's more celebrating to be done in Spain, despite New Year's Eve being behind us.

And for January 6, or 'Three Kings day', two key ingredients make up these celebrations: Roscón de Reyes and cava.

Roscón de Reyes is a huge, circular cake, made from doughnut-like pastry, topped with candied fruit and sugar and, sometimes, cut in half and filled with cream.

And although cava is often treated as a poor relation to champagne and prosecco in Europe, a good-quality version can cost at least a week's salary – so it's definitely not, despite its unfortunate international reputation, a 'bargain basement' alternative to the 'real thing'.

Cava, the traditional way to toast the festive season in Spain (photo: OCU)

That said, as cava is home-made from nationally-grown grapes, it does not have to be expensive and, as is often the case with Spanish wines sold within the country's borders rather than imported, price does not always bear any relation to flavour and quality. It's perfectly possible to spend very little and still get a very decent cava to mark the passage of Balthazar, Casper and Melchior this coming Friday.

One of Spain's leading consumer organisations, the OCU, gives its verdict every year on which are the best supermarket-bought Roscones de Reyes and cava – and, as these differ annually and prices vary, it is always worth checking which makes the cut before purchasing.

The group analysed nine Roscones and 25 brands of cava, and has revealed which are its top two of the former and the best two for under €3 among the latter.



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Have you won the lottery? 'Lucky' date of birth takes jackpot
Friday, December 23, 2022

A LOTTERY shop manager in Madrid is grateful that her son Luis, 32, had her rushing to a maternity ward when he did: If he had not been born on April 5, 1990, she would not have sold the jackpot-winning El Gordo ticket this year.

Whilst some ticket-buyers prefer to pick out random number combinations they will never remember from one year – or week – to the next, to avoid the harrowing disappointment of their regular figures coming up that one time they forget to play – others stick rigidly to numbers that mean something to them.

And this was the case with Soledad Muñoz, who made sure to be selling the festive lottery ticket numbered 05490.

Given that it was drawn as the first-prize number today (Thursday, December 22), Soledad's friends, family members and regular customers are now celebrating after claiming a minimum of €400,000 a head – and Soledad herself, like lottery shop sellers in general, gets a commission reflecting this, together with the enhanced reputation a jackpot-winning branch gets among the superstitious.

Soledad used to be a ticket-seller on the Madrid metro, but always wanted to own a lottery shop; when her mother passed away and she inherited her apartment, the sale of the property funded the purchase of branch 522 in the capital.

Luis López says that this, along with the top prize going to tickets with her grandson's date of birth, means his Grandma was 'smiling down on them' this year.

El Gordo tickets cost €200 each, meaning the average member of the public buys a much more affordable tenth of a ticket, or décimo, at €20.

The majority of full tickets tend to be sold to syndicates made up of work colleagues, friend groups or families, although anyone who did spend €200 on a ticket for themselves bearing the number 05490 is now €4 million wealthier than they were on Wednesday, December 21.

They will, of course, have to pay 20% tax on all bar the first €10,000.

décimo featuring the combination 05490 will earn its holder €400,000.

Winning sums have not changed in decades, but the lower prizes – lower than the numerous daily lotteries played across Spain – mean higher odds of a win that might be anything from a helpful cashflow bonus through to enough to buy a spacious new home.

Overall, the odds remain very low of a top-three prize win, but smaller wins can still be welcome at an expensive time of year such as Christmas, and are far more likely.



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Arts and entertainment vouchers of €400 extended to everyone born in 2005
Wednesday, December 21, 2022

A VOUCHER worth €400 to spend on arts and entertainment for anyone who turned – or has still to turn – 18 in 2022 will be offered again next year, reveals minister for culture Miquel Iceta.

Cinema and theatre tickets, festivals, museums and concerts are among the cultural activities brand-new adults can spend their voucher on

Teens entering adulthood this year got a surprise bonus present when it was announced in July that anyone born in the year 2004 – residents of any nationality, including asylum seekers, whether or not they had yet been granted refugee status – could download a 'culture voucher', or Bono Cultural, before October 15, whether or not their 18th birthday had already passed.

Strict rules apply as to how much of the €400 can be spent on what areas, but practically all of them are covered – up to €100 on physical books, magazines, press, music scores for those who sing or play instruments, music supports such as CDs, cassettes and vinyl, films on DVD or VHS video tape, all bought from shop premises rather than online; €100 on digital items, such as online magazines and press, e-books, video game or film streaming, music downloads, and subscriptions to music, film, gaming or reading platforms; and the remaining €200 to be spent on visits, such as to festivals, concerts, plays, shows, museums, art galleries, or library services which attract a fee.

Computer or mobile phone hardware or software, school or college textbooks, physical e-readers, musical instruments, drawing and painting material, clothing or accessories, restaurant meals, or sporting events are not covered.

The reason for the split between types of activity or product is to ensure that all areas of the arts, entertainment and culture industries which suffered financially through the pandemic would be given a boost, not just those most popular with the young, such as online services, streaming or music downloads.

Anyone whose 17th birthday was in 2022 may have been disappointed to have been born too late, especially if they were one of a 'New Year' twin whose elder sibling came into the world on the right side of the chimes.



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