Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Vartan Avakyan, his wife and 18-year-old son arrived in Spain five years ago on tourist visas from Ukraine. They had no desire to see the Prado museum or sun themselves on the Costa del Sol.
Vartan, 43, says he went right to work as a bricklayer on a Madrid construction project. He's been moving from one building job to another ever since.
The Avakyans and thousands of other Ukrainian immigrants are just one of the streams running into Spain's river of immigrants. About 4.3 million foreigners now live in Spain, according to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's economic research office, with 3.6 million of them arriving in the past 10 years. That makes them 10 percent of Spain's population of 44 million. About 600,000 arrived in 2006 alone, the office says.
Since the government says only 3 million of Spain's residents are registered as foreign born, that means 30 percent of the immigrants are in Spain illegally.