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Matchmaking in Spanish city of Candeleda to combat dwindling population

A Spanish dating association is trying to slow a population drain from the country's central villages by introducing bachelors to women bussed in from Madrid. Candeleda, a village of 6,000 on the banks of the Lobera river, hosted a weekend fiesta in April 2012 to welcome 68 women for a meet-and-greet with the its single men.

Dwindling population

Cave paintings show Candeleda has been inhabited for 5,000 years, and one current resident, Jose Miguel, 67, said he would hate to see its population dwindle after such a long history. "I've checked out the few widows and single women here," he said. "I signed up for this to meet new ladies and to hopefully show them the beauty of my town."

100 Spanish villages under imminent threat of abandonment

The group, Asocamu, was set up in 1995 to promote rural repopulation by organising parties for single men and women. Up to 100 of Spain's 5,000 villages are under imminent threat of abandonment. Manuel Gozalo, one of the organisers, said Spain's painful financial crisis and the lure of city jobs had made the need more pressing than ever. Asocamu credits as its inspiration the 1951 film ‘Westward the Women’, starring Robert Taylor and Denise Darcel, which tells the story of how the American west was populated by organising wagon trains of women to provide company – and brides – for lonely pioneers.

Some meetings have led to marriages

In Candeleda, men and women danced, flirted and considered their prospects. Blanca Fernandez, 52, who works in sales in Madrid, said she was attracted by the idea of a nice day out and a chance for romance. "I know it's difficult to find the love of one's life, but some of these meetings have led to marriages," she said.