Emigration of Spanish workers to the more industrialized countries of Western Europe, notably to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), France, Switzerland, and Belgium, increased markedly during the 1960s, but since 1973 the number of Spaniards returning to Spain has been greater than the number of those leaving. Nevertheless, more than 1.7 million Spanish citizens were residing outside the country in 1987. In 1991, Spain had 360,655 foreign residents. Some come there to retire, others to work. There were 75,422 British in 1991 and 49,513 Moroccans. Germans, French, Portuguese, and Argentinians were also well represented.
Internal migration was 685,966 in 1990. In the past it has been directed toward the more industrialized zones and the great urban centers, and away from the rural areas. Rural-to-urban and urban-to-rural migration is now roughly in balance.
A gateway into Europe, Spain receives large numbers of non-European migrants through Ceuta and Melilla. Between 1984– 98, an estimated 8,000 people were granted refugee status. In 1998, 6,654 people applied for asylum in Spain, up from 4,730 in 1996. Main countries of origin were Algeria and Romania. Also in 1998, 235 people were recognized as refugees and 727 were granted humanitarian status. In 1999 the net migration rate was 0.66 migrants per 1,000 population.