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MALTATODAY 7 August 2022

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13 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 7 AUGUST 2022 Sliema Pumped up by foreigners 2011 2021 Inhabitants/ 10,551 15,167 Average Age 48.2 44.4 % under 14 9.3% 9.7% % over 65 28.8% 22.6% % not Maltese 15.4% 48.9% Total population 13,621 19,655 THANKS to an influx of foreigners which increased from 2,095 in 2011 to a stagger- ing 9,605 in 2021, Sliema has seen its pop- ulation increasing to 19,655, the highest recorded since the 1985 census but still a far cry from the city's post-war peak. Back in 1948 Sliema emerged as Mal- ta's most populous city with a popu- lation of 24,295. Initially the home of civil servants loyal to the crown, the locality started attracting a diverse mix of middle- and upper-class residents, shopkeepers and even boasted its own working-class quarter: the so-called La- zy Corner. But after reaching a peak in 1948, the population was in constant decline reaching an ebb of 12,906 in 1995. Subsequently Sliema's population started rising again amidst the first property boom in the first decade of the century, albeit at a slow rate between 1995 and 2011, only to grow at a faster rate in the past decade. Now Sliema has emerged as Malta's fourth largest town overtaking Qormi and Zabbar, both of which were more populous in 2011. Sliema has also seen its average age drop from 48.2 to 44.4 in the past dec- ade. This was the largest drop in aver- age age registered in all of Malta's 68 localities. But while Maltese nationals in Sliema have grown older, with their average age increasing from 49.6 in 2011 to 52.8 in 2021, the age of the average foreign- er in Sliema has decreased from 40.3 to 35.6 in the same time-frame. And while only 9% of Sliema's resi- dents are children under the age of 14, 23% are aged over 65. This demographic trend suggests growing difficulties for an increasingly older native population which has to put up with increased infrastructural pressures resulting from the need to ac- commodate younger foreigners. And what is actually happening is that despite the sharp increase in Sliema's population, the number of Maltese res- idents in the locality is still decreasing. Compared to 2011, Sliema has 1,476 less Maltese residents and 7,510 more foreigners. The decline in the Maltese population suggests that locals are be- ing priced out. Moreover the city has become more claustrophobic with its density increas- ing from 10,551 per square kilometre in 2011, to 15,167 per today. Valletta Despite V18 hype the decline continues DESPITE being recognised as a European capital of culture in 2018 and attracting more investment in boutique hotels and restaurants, Valletta's population has de- clined further, losing 703 residents in the past decade despite an influx of 493 for- eigners. 2011 2021 Inhabitants/ 6,836 6,133 Average age 45.5 47.1 % under 14 12.5% 9.6% % over 65 25.4% 26.9% % not Maltese 3.1% 13% Total population 5,748 5,157 In fact, the decline is more pronounced among Maltese residents whose num- ber has decreased from 5,570 in 2011 to just 4,486 now. Valletta – once Malta's largest city with a population of 22,768 in 1901 – has been in constant decline since the end of WWII, when people started mi- grating from the inner harbour towns. The major decline in Valletta's pop- ulation occurred between 1967 and 1985 when the number of residents fell by 6,000. The population continued to decline from 7,262 in 1995 to 5,748 in 2011 and 5,157 now, which is the lowest ever in a national census. This suggests that gentrification is actually sucking out the city out of its most essential component: its residen- tial community. Moreover, while Valletta has become more of an entertainment hub with the government recently relaxing laws restricting open-air music in residen- tial streets, its population continues to get older, with the average age of the locality rising from 45.5 a decade ago to 47 now. This means that as the city is becoming noisier, and it is its ger- iatric population which suffers most. With the percentage of over 65-year- olds increasing from 25% to 27% and the percentage of children dropping to less than 10%, the city is set for further decline in the absence of policies which actively encourage residents to stay and prosper. CONTINUED PAGE 14-15 Changing towns: a profile of Malta in 2022 James Debono's census spotlight looks at the various demographic indicators from Maltese towns, revealing a declining capital city that keeps losing its inhabitants, to veritable explosion of residents in localities like Msida whose population has nearly doubled thanks to an inf lux of foreigners Sliema

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