The influx of Southern Europeans into Germany gathered pace in recent months, as a growing number of Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese ventured north to escape deepening recession and rising social tensions.

The biggest increase came from Greece. The number of Greeks moving to Germany jumped 78% in the first half of 2012 from a year earlier, Germany's statistics office said. In all, over 16,000 people moved to Germany from Greece from January to June, an acceleration of a trend that began in 2010 after the Greek crisis began. The number of foreign immigrants to Germany from Spain and Portugal was up by 53% for each country.