22 Sep

Map of the Week: Most Popular Migrant Destinations By Country

By Conor White

This week’s Map of the Week was created using data from the United Nations report International Migrant Stock. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations looks at the most popular destination for each country’s migrants around the world. There are an estimated 272 million international migrants worldwide. If all migrants were to form one country, it would be the fifth most populous in the world, behind China, India, the United States, and Indonesia. Due to various personal, social, situational, and structural factors, some of these international migrants are more vulnerable to the ongoing global health crisis than others. These vulnerabilities are often exacerbated in crisis situations, such as the ongoing threat from the coronavirus.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on mobility and migration across the world. Travel restrictions have been implemented by the majority of national governments in order to contain the spread of the virus. Many political leaders have prohibited entry of residents from other countries into their own nations, some closing their borders entirely. These border closures have forced the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to temporarily suspend refugees’ resettlement travels. This means that for those awaiting migration processing and assistance in seeking asylum, the wait continues in seeking a new life away from their home countries.

The top five countries with the largest number of people internally displaced by conflict and violence are Syria, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and Afghanistan. The countries receiving the greatest number of refugees are Turkey, Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan, and Germany, respectively. The map does not distinguish between migrant status or various categories of migrants. Some of the data may also include migrants as people whose parents were born abroad.

Some interesting findings show that the United States is the top choice for migrants from a large range of countries including much of South and Central America, as well as Canada, Japan, and the Philippines. This is largely due to its size, wealth and relative history of migration. The same cannot be said about China: despite its recent economic boom, is not a popular choice for migrants to re-settle. Most of the Middle East’s migrants re-locate to Saudi Arabia but the most popular destination for migrants from Saudi Arabia is the United States. The data shows that the most popular destination for Iranians is the United States which is likely due to the large number who left following the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Migration has forever been a part of the history of the human race since the origin of modern humans 60,000 years ago. Even though this map shows the most popular destination for each country’s migrants in recent history, migration patterns will remain stalled until travel restrictions and border controls are eased. The ongoing health and foreseeable global economic crisis may see changes to the patterns seen in the map but human migration will always be an inevitable part of human life.

Click here to view the map in detail.