Mapping the Destinations of International Migrants over Time


Mapping the Destinations of International Migrants over Time

This map displays the international migrant population by country of destination for each decade since 1960 and 2013. It includes all countries of destination with 20,000 or more international migrants by time period. Each population bubble is colored according to the migrant share of a country's total population.


1) Because governments collect statistics on international migrants residing within their countries' boundaries in varying ways, there is no consistent cross-country definition of this population. The UN Population Division provides the mid-year estimate of international migrants based on official statistics on the foreign born, i.e., people born outside of the country of current residence. However, for countries that do not collect data on place of birth but have data on citizenship, the estimated number of noncitizens is used instead. In both cases, migrant stock also includes refugees, some of whom may not be foreign born. Most of the data were obtained from population censuses; population registers and nationally representative surveys were also used for information on the number and composition of international migrants. For more information on the UN Population Division’s methodology to estimate the size of international migrants, click here:

2) Changes in countries' geographic and political boundaries over time affect the size of the total and international migrant populations as well as countries' rankings in the chart above. For example, part of the increase in the world international migrant stock observed between 1980 and 2000 was due to the break-up of the former Soviet Union into 15 independent countries. Because of the changed political boundaries, about 27 million persons were "added" to the 2000 world total international migrant stock. Thus, a person born in the Soviet Republic of Ukraine but residing in Russia was counted as an "internal migrant" during the Soviet Union time and as an "international migrant" after the Soviet Union's dissolution.

3) Countries with fewer than 20,000 international migrants or a total population less than 500,000 are excluded.

4) The UN Population Division may base their population estimates on projections from national-level data collected in earlier years.


Migration Policy Institute tabulations of the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2013). Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 revision (United Nations database, POP/DB/MIG/Stock/Rev.2013). Available here: