The 1.7 million population only includes residents within the administrative limits. Barcelona has an urban area much larger with a population of more than 4.6 million, which makes it the 6th most populous metropolitan area in the European Union behind Paris, London, the Ruhr, Madrid, and Milan. It is estimated that more than 5 million live in the metropolitan area, which is the largest on the Mediterranean Sea.
The city proper has a high population density of 16,000 people per square kilometers (41,000/sq mi). This makes Barcelona one of Europe's most densely populated cities. By far the most densely populated area in the city is Eixample, with 36,000 people per square kilometer (or 92,000 per square mile), as well as the neighborhood of la Sagrada Familia with over 50,000 people per square kilometer.
Barcelona is a leading cultural, sports, economic, tourism, arts, science, fashion, and commerce center. It's the fourth most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union and the 35th in the world, and one of the world's most prosperous city brands.
62% of the inhabitants of Barcelona were born in Catalonia, while almost 24% come from other areas of Spain. Over 17% of the residents come from other countries, a percentage that is up significantly from less than 4% in 2001. Most come from Pakistan, Italy, China, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Morocco. Barcelona is home to Spain's largest Jewish community with about 3,500 Jews.
Two legends are told of the founding of Barcelona. One attributes its founding to the mythological Hercules while the other attributes its founding to Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, the father of Hannibal, who named the new city Barcino after his family.
The Romans redrew Barcelona in 15 BC as a military camp. It became a colony called Faventia, which slowly grew in population and importance, eventually minting its own coins. In the 5th century, the city was conquered by the Visigoths, and it was briefly the capital of Hispania. The Arabs later captured it in the 8th century, and again by Charlemagne's son Louis in 801, who made it the seat of the Hispanic March ruled by the Count of Barcelona.
The region was divided into Counties, with the County of Barcelona being the most important. The Counts of Barcelona eventually became independent and began expanding territory to all of Catalonia. Catalonia became part of the Crown of Aragon, until the union of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon caused the city to lose its power. In the 17th century, Catalonia went to war with Spain and declared independence with help from France. Spain did lose parts of the region, which are now French territories. Catalonia was later invaded by French troops under Napoleon, although these territories were returned to Spain after the French Empire fell.
Barcelona gained importance once more in the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution and has since become one of the most well-known and most often visited cities in the world.
Barcelona Population Growth
The city of Barcelona's population remains relatively stable as it is already exceptionally densely populated while the metropolitan area continues to grow steadily. This trend will continue over the next few decades.