The number of African illegal immigrants trying to get into Spain has dropped dramatically as the Spanish economy has fallen into recession according to data released by the Interior Ministry.

In the first six months approximately 4,500 illegal immigrants were caught trying to get to Spain via boat, a 40 per cent reduction over the same period in 2008 and around 75 per cent less than the same quarter in 2006.

The ministry attributed the decline to increased repatriations and maritime controls.