The survival of some small Spanish towns on the verge of 'extinction' due to depopulation and the aging of its inhabitants has been entrusted to immigrants from North Africa. Visedo in northwestern Aragona is one example.

The arrival of Moroccan immigrant Said al-Ghoury and his wife and two daughters saved the local school in Visedo from closing. Ghoury's arrival promted two other Moroccan families to move to the tiny town as well. Visedo has 80 inhabitants, located in the Terual province in Aragona.

Emptied of natives, repopulated by migrants 

The Aragon region has the highest rural depopulation rate of the Iberian peninsula. In the Teruel province alone, over the past 19 years the population plunged from 136,299 to 13,979, according to national statistics institute (INE) data. However, while native inhabitants flee, the number of immigrants residing in the province has risen by 2,000 percent. Most of the immigrants came to Spain from North Africa in the 1990s to work in the agriculture industry and later moved further inland due to the economic crisis, thereby helping to revitalize some areas that were suffering a great deal after being abandoned by natives or left with only elderly inhabitants. 

Schools stay open with new arrivals 

The local school and sheep raising farn in Alfambra, also located in the Teruel province, were able to continue their activities after the arrival of Moroccan families. For about eight months, the local health center was left without a pediatric. ''If there are no inhabitants, then there are no services. Without services, there are no inhabitants: this is a vicious circle,'' commented one of the locals. If the town were to be entirely abandoned, certain jobs done by immigrants - such as shepherd in Alfambra, would be lost as well, as these jobs are unpopular Most Spaniards are unwilling to do these jobs.

More articles