Brits abandon Spain while Chinese flock there according to official data

MADRID (AFP) - Spain's population shrank in 2013 for a second year with foreigners including many Britons abandoning the country, although the number of Chinese there grew, official data showed Tuesday.

The number of Britons - many of whom live on Spain's warm east and south coasts - plunged by nearly 23 per cent to 297,300, the figures from the National Statistics Institute showed.

Chinese expatriates, many of whom run retail businesses in Spain, were the only foreign nationality group to grow there in 2013, increasing in number by two per cent to 185,250 people.

The departure of the foreigners made Spain's total population fall overall for the second year running to 46.7 million, nearly 405,000 fewer people than a year earlier, the INE said.

The number of Romanians - the biggest foreign nationality group in Spain - fell by 8.6 per cent to 795,500.

Another major European expatriate group in Spain, the Germans, declined by nearly 24 per cent to 138,900.

Millions of foreigners, many of them Latin Americans, flocked to Spain for work during a decade-long building boom that went bust in 2008.

Many have since found themselves jobless and begun returning to their home countries.