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Tatiana Ángeles

The 5 countries with the highest number of immigrants

- United States: It is the main destination of international migrants since 1970.

The 5 countries with the highest number of immigrants

Today, migratory flows are part of the history of humanity, since they have been present in society to a greater or lesser extent. A report on Migrations in the World 2022 by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), assesses that the estimated number of international migrants has increased in the last five decades. The estimated total of 281 million people living in a country other than their native country in 2020 is 128 million higher than the 1990 figure and triples the 1970 figure (OIM UN Migration, 2022).

When addressing these migration issues, the point of view is placed on the figures that help to understand the changes of scale, the emerging trends and the evolution of the demographic variables that generate social and economic transformation caused by migration. Similarly, the current international context is evaluated, a health crisis started by Covid-19 that generated a decrease in migration due to the greater health restrictions promoted by the governments of each nation.

Data collected over time illustrate that international migration is not uniform throughout the world, but rather responds to economic, geographic, demographic and other factors that shape clear migration patterns, such as established migration “corridors” along over the years, which represent an accumulation of migratory movements over time. (IOM UN Migration, 2022) In addition, they offer a snapshot of the evolution of migration patterns that has led to the existence of large populations of foreign-born people in a given country of destination.

This visualization shows the top 5 destination countries for international migrants. The main corridors generally lead to countries where their economy and quality of life is bigger or better than their native country.

  1. United States: It has been the main destination for international migrants since 1970. Since then, the number of people born abroad residing in the country has quadrupled and today, the figures are close to 51 million people.

  2. Germany: It is the second destination, it has experienced an increase over the years and currently reaches almost 16 million migrants.

  3. Saudi Arabia: It is considered the third destination with an increase of 13 million international migrants.

  4. Russian Federation: It is the fourth destination, with a number of 12 million international migrants.

  5. United Kingdom: Finally, it is the country that completes the five main destination countries, with 9 million international migrants respectively.

Source: UN, (2021) Produced by: Tatiana Angeles

Migration represents a complex issue for International Relations, since since ancient times the human being is in constant transit mediated by different variables ranging from the history of humanity, referring to large cultural, geographical, expansionist movements (spontaneous or forced ) or political, even economic in order to acquire a better quality of life, in search of work and economic solvency. Migration is seen as a driver of sustainable development, yet it can be subject to creating great benefits or driving negative impacts, depending on how it is managed.

When speaking of migrations, the meaning of migrant is understood, the IOM defines it as any person who moves, or has moved, across an international border or within a country, outside their usual place of residence regardless of: 1) your legal status; 2) the voluntary or involuntary nature of the displacement; 3) the causes of displacement; or 4) the length of your stay. (United Nations, 2020) In other words, it is understood as people who move to an area other than their nationality or residence, so that the country of destination effectively becomes their new country of habitual residence, this is caused by different reasons ranging from needs or choice with the aim of improving their social environment.

Large movements of migrants often become an interesting and complicated issue in international politics, since over the years efforts have been made to promote migration at the center of international, national and regional concerns that address the challenges associated with migration. For this reason, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has goals and indicators that are relevant for the creation of planned and managed policies that facilitate migration and orderly, safe and responsible mobility of people, leaving behind displacements subject to conditions, vulnerability, risks that generate a negative impact.

It should be added that migration can be subject to generating quite significant benefits in the form of capacities, where it strengthens the workforce, investment and cultural diversity that contributes to the improvement of the lives of communities in their countries of origin through the transfer of capacities and financial resources, these aspects encourage maximizing international and regional cooperation (OIM UN Migration, 2022). In conclusion, when examining and understanding migration, it is observed that its motives go beyond geography and several times this phenomenon comes to encourage relations, alliances and international cooperation.


    Referencias: Naciones Unidas. (2020). Migración. Recuperado el 28 de febrero de 2022, de OIM ONU Migración. (2022). Informe sobre las migraciones en el mundo 2022. Recuperado el 02 de marzo de 2022, de OIM ONU Migración. (01 de febrero de 2022). La OIM y la UE se asocian para integrar la migración a las acciones de desarrollo a nivel mundial. Recuperado el 01 de marzo de 2022, de

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Ángeles, Tatiana. “Los 5 países con mayor número de inmigrantes.” CEMERI, 7 sept. 2022,