Figures released by the Balearic Statistics institute show that for the first time since records began, the maximum number of people on the Island dropped in 2018.

The 2018 figures are provisional, but never vary by more than a few hundred people from the provisional to the final set.

In 2017 the maximum number of people on the island occurred on 9th August when it reached a record 375,644.

In 2018 the maximum was achieved on the 8th of August, and at 363,723 it was 11,291 down on the previous year.

Graph shows daily human pressure index for Ibiza and Formentera from 1997 to 2017 with provisional data for 2018

Why we like the Human Pressure Indicator?

Of the many statistics produced by the Balearic Statistics institute, we think the Human pressure Indicator (HPI) is among the most useful.

Whereas the tourism statistics are great for telling us how many people are staying in registered Hotels and Apartments, they fall short in giving a true picture of how many people are coming to Ibiza, and hence the strain put upon island resources.

The HPI statistics include all regulated tourism, plus the movements of all those people staying in unlicensed accommodation, plus seasonal workers, second home owners, and the movements of residents. Unless you have arrived as a stowaway you are included.


The HPI really does put the reasons for Ibiza’s struggle to cope in recent years into sharp focus.

In 1997 the maximum number of people in Ibiza at any point was 235,000 on the 11th of August. Those of us who remember that period will remember it as feeling like a busy summer resort.

Roll on two decades to 2017 and that figure was surpassed by what we now think of as the start of the season – on 4th May 2017 there were 243,000 people on the island.

Ibiza’s summer peak has risen 60% by 140,000 from 235,000 to 375,000 with nothing like an equivalent increase in infrastructure and resources.

When you see the numbers it is no wonder that everything from roads to beaches to sewers to taxis has struggled under the strain, sometimes to and beyond breaking point.

True Population

Another figure the HPI can provide is arguably the closest approximation to Ibiza’s actual permanent population. With residency entirely optional, there are many people living and working on the island who are not counted in the official census numbers.

The last census was held in 2010 when a total population of 132,637 was recorded.

The HPI shows a relatively flat line of numbers in February and again in November. We feel this may give the true population. It is outside of the season and seasonal workers, and unaffected by quite large movements over the Christmas holidays.

On 1st February 2018 there were 165,238 people on the island. We think that is a good approximation of Ibiza’s true permanent population.

Again the increase is incredible. From 86,151 in 1997 to 168,072 in 2017, indicating that the permanent population has doubled. Presented with these numbers it is easy to see that whatever other factors such as illegal holiday renting came into play, Ibiza was already a housing crisis waiting to happen.

2018 Decrease

It is worth noting that for the rest of the year the 2018 HPI was almost identical to 2017. For large parts of the year one line literally sits on top of the other.

It is only in the peak weeks there is any marked decrease, and even then it is relatively modest – though 11,291 people is quite a few empty airplanes.

But it is a fact that 2018 shows the first decrease ever since the records began. There is no reason to be thinking this will spark a downward trend, though some people may wish it would, at least a bit.

It is not so much the reduction that matters, as the fact it didn’t rise. Personally I feel that the HPI maximum in August 2017 may be Ibiza’s current maximum capacity. 375,644, that’s it, not a person more.