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Alicante - Overview

Alicante, or Alacant in the local Valencian language, is one of Spain's fastest growing cities. It is a mediterranean port city situated on the Costa Blanca in south eastern Spain, in the autonomous community of Valencia.

In a city of over 322,000 people, expats make up around 16% of the population, over 53,000 in 2007 according to official statistics, although this is difficult to confirm due to the popularity of second homes in the city, plus the relaxed registration rulings for citizens of the European Union, who are free to come and go from Spain as they please. The problem of illegal immigrants, particularly from Romania, Poland and Morroco also makes real statistics difficult to be sure of. Almost half of all expats in the city come from Central and South America, particularly Colombia, Ecuadar and Argentina. Another third are from Europe.

The province of Alicante includes both the city and surrounding areas, including popular tourist resorts such as Benidorm and Torrevieja.

Over 3 million tourists visit the area each year, making tourism one of the most important factors of the local economy and unsurprisingly one of the major employers of expats. This could be anything from bar work to real estate, as English speakers are required to help with the sale of second properties, thanks to the number of Europeans who choose to spend winter in the warmer climes of the Costa Blanca. The metallurgical, chemical and construction industries are also well-represented.

The port itself is a central feature of the city, as the portal for exports of local wine, oil, cereals and fruits, as well as welcoming around 80,000 cruise passengers each year.

Around the city is evidence of continuous improvement, as well as the preservation of its old quarter. La Rambla and El Barrio are major thoroughfares through the old city, popular with tourists and shoppers, and when the sun goes down, those looking for a good night out. The area around the marina and the port has been developed into a modern commercial and social area of the city with new shopping centres that boast amazing views across the Mediterranean Sea.

Tourism is one of the major attractions to the city for expats, particularly those looking to start their own businesses in this sector. And accommodation is much cheaper to both buy and rent than in the larger cities of Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga. The warm weather allows an outdoors lifestyle that is not available to many, particularly northern Europeans, who make the most of the plethora of outdoor activities that are available, especially water sports.

Newcomers to Alicante should look at www.alicante.es the official website of the town hall, and which can also be viewed in English, for information on the city as well as downloads of any forms that are needed to become an official resident. Many government offices have English speakers, and official translators are also available for any legal issues. As the city has such a large expat and tourist community, many government and commercial services advertise the languages spoken.

There are also a number of expat online communities that, with a quick internet search, can provide a lot of first hand advice on living in Alicante.

Read more about this country

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