The number of people living in St Paul’s Bay has increased dramatically over the past decade, soaring to almost 30,000 at the beginning of this year, official statistics show.

St Paul’s Bay alone, which also includes Qawra and Buġibba, has seen its population increase by a staggering 56 per cent over the last decade. The once quiet seaside resort had just 18,652 residents in 2009. 

An analysis of the new data, carried out by Times of Malta, also shows massive increases in the populations of many Maltese towns, particularly in the north of the island.

This reflects a significant increase in the number of foreigners living and working on the island, already the most densely populated EU member state.

The statistics, which do not include seasonal visitors or undocumented people, which could add up to many more, show that since 2009, Malta’s total population shot up by 15 per cent.

Despite the significant spike in numbers in St Paul’s Bay, where the population now stands at 29,097, the largest increase actually occurred in Msida, where the number of residents rose to 13,713 from 8,567 in 2009. That’s a rise of 58 per cent in a decade. 

Swieqi and St Paul’s Bay were not far behind, registering a swell in the number of residents of 56 per cent since 2009.

The exercise also showed that, bar Marsascala and Birżebbuġia, the bulk of population growth occurred in localities in the island’s northern areas. 

In Gżira, St Julian’s and Sliema, areas that have become synonymous with the influx of foreign workers who have made the three localities their home, the populations grew by over 40 per cent in each town. 

Overall, the population of the Maltese islands increased by 12.8 per cent in 10 years. While Malta’s official population of legal residents skyrocketed by 15 per cent, in Gozo, it dwindled by 11 per cent. That meant that over a decade, the islands’ population increased by 56,356 residents. 

How many people live where?

Though until a few years Birkirkara was considered to be Malta’s largest town, St Paul’s Bay has now surpassed it for the second year running, becoming Malta’s most populous location.

Still, Birkirkara also saw its population increase by 11 per cent in the last decade, reaching 24,356 residents this year.

Sliema has the third-highest population, with 22,591 people residing in the upmarket coastal town, an increase of almost 41 per cent in the last decade.

St Julian’s, also a popular area with expats, has seen its residential community increase by an average of 500 a year in the last decade, an increase of 45 per cent.

As a whole, the official Maltese population reached almost half a million, up from 437,203 in 2009.

While steady growth was reported in a majority of the localities, there were still a number that recorded marginal decreases in population.

The biggest slump was recorded in Mdina, from 298 inhabitants down to 243 and which translated to a decrease of 18 per cent. The situation in Valletta was only slightly better. The capital’s population went down by 16 per cent – from 7,012 to 5,827, since 2009.

Other localities which experienced downward trends included Qormi, Zejtun, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua.  

Can St Paul’s Bay take so many people?

Acknowledging the growth in population put additional pressures on the locality, Mayor Alfred Grima told Times of Malta he believed the number to be even higher than quoted by the National Statistics Office. 

Despite this, the Labour Mayor still believes that growth is not a problem as long as there are efforts to ensure things are handled properly. 

The council, he insisted, needed to be supported by the government and its agencies.

He also pointed out that it was important to “take control of an issue and take action” when a problem arises, such as recent reports of excessive amounts of litter on the streets. 

“We cannot stop people from coming,” the Mayor said.

“What we have to do is adapt, work on a plan and think positively. It’s important that we discuss and come out with solutions to our problems,” he said. 

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