See which Maltese towns had the highest growth in foreign residents over the last decade

Foreigners made up 14% of Malta’s population by the end of 2017: we broke down the National Statistics Office data

St Paul’s Bay, which has leap-frogged Birkirkara to become the most populated locality, had the highest concentration of foreign residents last year
St Paul’s Bay, which has leap-frogged Birkirkara to become the most populated locality, had the highest concentration of foreign residents last year

Malta’s population grew by almost 70,000 in a decade with more than three quarters of that increase being foreigners, official figures show.

By the end of 2017, Malta’s population was 475,701, according to figures obtained from the National Statistics Office. The population stood at 407,832, 10 years earlier.

While the native Maltese population during the 10-year span increased by 15,449, the number of foreigners in the same period jumped up by more than 52,000.

The figures show that by the end of 2017 there were 67,145 foreigners living in Malta. The share of foreigners in the population rose from 4% in 2007 to 14% last year.

Foreign residents increased in all localities apart from Sannat, which experienced a marginal decline.

A magnet for foreigners

St Paul’s Bay, which has leap-frogged Birkirkara to become the most populated locality, had the highest concentration of foreign residents last year.

The seaside locality had a population of 26,133 by the end of 2017, with 43% of these being foreign.

But St Paul’s Bay has always been a magnet for foreigners, having had the highest concentration of non-Maltese residents even 10 years ago. In 2007, 17% of the 14,368 people who lived in St Paul’s Bay were foreign.

The substantial increase in the population of St Paul’s Bay, was primarily the result of a greater number of foreigners choosing to live in the locality over the 10-year span. However, unlike some other towns, St Paul’s Bay also saw its native Maltese population grow in the period.

Dramatic change

But the most dramatic changes occurred in Msida, Gżira and Birżebbuġa. The overall populations in these localities increased purely as a result of burgeoning foreign communities in their midst.

While foreigners made up 7% of residents in each of Msida and Gżira in 2007, this grew to 42% and 40% respectively last year.

Msida’s population experienced a 60% increase in 10 years to reach 12,216 by 2017.

But while the locality’s native Maltese population declined by 72 during the period, the number of foreigners increased by 4,644. Foreigners now make up 42% of Msida’s residents.

The same story happened in Gżira. In the past decade, the native Maltese population in Gżira dropped by 136, while foreign residents increased by 3,864.

Birżebbuġa in the south east also experienced the same phenomenon. The foreign population in the locality accounted for 33% last year, a significant jump from the 4% in 2007.

While the native Maltese population in Birżebbuġa declined by 428, foreign residents shot up by 3,800 between 2007 and 2017.

Exodus from the harbour towns

Population growth over the past 10 years was distributed across 57 localities in Malta and Gozo in varying degrees.

By the end of last year, St Paul’s Bay (26,133), Birkirkara (23,570), Sliema (21,068), Mosta (20,551) and Qormi (16,500) were the
top five most populated localities.

Of these, St Paul’s Bay and Sliema experienced the largest growth with population increases of 11,765 and 7,772 respectively.

Declines were registered in 11 localities, mostly concentrated around the Grand Harbour.

Valletta (-348), Floriana (-123), Birgu (-143), Bormla (-351), Isla (-240), Santa Luċija (-170), Żejtun (-80), Paola (-170) and Luqa (-6) saw their populations decline over the past decade. Nadur (-21) and Mdina (-28) also witnessed population drops.

In each of these localities, the number of foreign residents increased but this was not enough to make up for declines in the native Maltese population.

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