Malta’s already burgeoning population is expected to swell to a figure approaching 700,000 by 2050, making it the EU state with the largest population growth.

The island’s population is predicted to reach just over 668,000 in under 30 years, a jump of 34% from the level in 2019.

This is followed by Ireland, at 29%, and Sweden, at 25%, according to Eurostat figures that have just been published.

Only Iceland, which is not an EU member, overtakes Malta for likely population growth – its inhabitants are expected to increase   by 39% over the same period.

Past predictions by the EU’s statistical arm had underestimated the rapid pace of development in Malta over a short period of time and the resulting influx of foreign workers.

Net migration of 20,343 accounted for population increase from 2018 to 2019

Malta’s population had been predicted to reach 508,000 by 2050.

However, by 2019, its inhabitants had already superseded this figure, hitting 514,000 and placing the island first in the EU for population growth that year. In 2018, the population was 493,000.

According to NSO, a net migration (immigration less emigration) of 20,343 people, the majority being third-country nationals, accounted for the population increase from 2018 to 2019.

Official figures for 2020 are still to be published.

It is not known whether the effect of the pandemic has caused the population to shrink, given the known exodus of foreign workers.

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