The Catalan capital is full of little patrias, corners of the city where people from the same country, region, village or even family have settled often because of work. One of the good things about the distribution of immigrants in Barcelona, though, is that you never get the sense that you are in a ghetto so it’s something of a surprise when you stumble into a bar to find it full of a particular nation’s football shirts.
Statistics published by La Vanguardia this week have shown to my surprise that Italians are the biggest group in 27 of Barcelona’s 73 neighbourhoods whilst the Chinese are the largest group in 15 neighbourhoods and Pakistanis in 9. However, if we look at Barcelona immigration as a whole, we see that compared with 1,434,685 residents with Spanish passports, there are 265,578 foreigners from 166 different countries so no nation really dominates.
The map above gives a clear idea of Barcelona immigration neighbourhood by neighbourhood.
Little Latin Americas
A report a year ago showed that there were little Honduras in Roquetes and Verdum and a year later Hondurans are the largest groups of foreigners in both neighbourhoods. What’s more the new figures show small enclaves of Bolivians in Sants, Chileans in Montbau, Dominicans in Horta and Paraguayans in the yet to be fully developed neighbourhood of Marina del Prat Vermell next to Zona Franca.
What’s interesting is that none of these nationalities figure amongst the top 10 groups of immigrants in the city but they have tended to congregate together.
The new figures also debunk certain clichés which may have been true a decade ago but today are not so clear.
For example, although in absolute terms the 6,700 Pakistanis in El Raval certainly make up the largest group accounting for 15.7% of the immigrant population, the truth is their presence is much stronger in El Besòs i El Maresme where they make up 38.8% of the non-Spaniards.
Obviously, Italians are pretty much everywhere but there has been a general increase in the population coming from other European Union countries, who now number over 80,000 Barcelona immigrants.
The French have established colonies in upmarket Pedralbes (413 inhabitants) and Sarrià (599 inhabitants) and to some extent form the vanguard of the new richer kind of immigration attracted to Barcelona for its weather, gastronomy, cultural offer and lifestyle.
It came as some surprise to me at least to see that, US citizens now make up the largest group of foreigners in the select Tres Torres neighbourhood and I hazarad a guess that this is because of the excellent choice of English-language primary and secondary schools in the area.