According to Barcelona's City Council, Barcelona's population as of 1 January 2016 was 1,608,746 people, on a land area of 101.4 km2 (39 sq mi). It is the main component of an administrative area of Greater Barcelona, with a population of 3,218,071 in an area of 636 square kilometres (246 square miles) (density 5,060 hab/km). The population of the urban area was 4,223,000. It is the central nucleus of the Barcelona metropolitan area, which relies on a population of 5,083,000.
Spanish is the most spoken language in Barcelona (according to the linguistic census held by the Government of Catalonia in 2013) and it is understood almost universally. After Spanish, Catalan language is the second most spoken one in the city, and it is understood by 95% of the population, while 72.3% can speak it, 79% can read it, and 53% can write it, thanks to the language immersion educational system.
In 1900, Barcelona had a population of 533,000 people, which grew steadily but slowly until 1950, when it started absorbing a high number of people from other less-industrialized parts of Spain. Barcelona's population peaked in 1979 with 1,906,998 people, and fell throughout the 1980s and 1990s as more people sought a higher quality of life in outlying cities in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. After bottoming out in 2000 with 1,496,266 people, the city's population began to rise again as younger people started to return, causing a great increase in housing prices.
Barcelona has a well-developed higher education system of public universities. Most prominent among these is the University of Barcelona (established in 1450), a world-renowned research and teaching institution with campuses around the city. Barcelona is also home to the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, and the newer Pompeu Fabra University, and, in the private sector the EADA Business School founded in 1957, became the first Barcelona institution to run manager training programmes for the business community. IESE Business School, as well as the largest private educational institution, the Ramon Llull University, which encompasses internationally prestigious schools and institutes such as the ESADE Business School. The Autonomous University of Barcelona, another public university, is located in Bellaterra, a town in the Metropolitan Area. Toulouse Business School and the Open University of Catalonia (a private Internet-centred open university) are also based in Barcelona.
The city has a network of public schools, from nurseries to high schools, under the responsibility of a consortium led by city council (though the curriculum is the responsibility of the Generalitat de Catalunya). There are also many private schools, some of them Roman Catholic. Most such schools receive a public subsidy on a per-student basis, are subject to inspection by the public authorities, and are required to follow the same curricular guidelines as public schools, though they charge tuition. Known as escoles concertades, they are distinct from schools whose funding is entirely private (escoles privades).
The language of instruction at public schools and escoles concertades is Catalan, as stipulated by the 2009 Catalan Education Act. Spanish may be used as a language of instruction by teachers of Spanish literature or language, and foreign languages by teachers of those languages. An experimental partial immersion programme adopted by some schools allows for the teaching of a foreign language (English, generally) across the curriculum, though this is limited to a maximum of 30% of the school day. No public school or escola concertada in Barcelona may offer 50% or full immersion programmes in a foreign language, nor does any public school or escola concertada offer International Baccalaureate programmes.