Spain recorded 56,852 illegal immigrants in 2023, an 82.1 percent surge from a year earlier, according to figures published by the Spanish Interior Ministry.
The majority of the immigrants made the dangerous crossing of over 100 km from the north-west coast of Africa to the Canary Islands archipelago.
Of the total, 39,910 immigrants reached the Canary Islands, up by 154.5 percent from 2022. Another 15,435 immigrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands, up by 19 percent from 2022, while the remaining immigrants reached the two Spanish North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Despite the inrush in 2023, the number is still below the almost 64,300 people who travelled illegally to Spain in 2018, although at that time the majority of the crossings were heading to the region of Andalusia on the south coast of Spain.
On Thursday, the Spanish government agreed to accept a group of 281 Nicaraguan and Venezuelan immigrants, who had previously travelled to the United States.
The move comes after an accord with the White House to relieve some of the migratory pressure from the U.S. southern border.