Migration is a process in which individuals and groups of people leave their homes for various reasons. The current mobility of people is higher than ever before in modern history1 and continues to increase sharply, becoming one of the determining global issues of 21st century. Almost all of the approximately 200 world states are countries of origin, transit or destination for the migrants.


272 million: The estimated number of international migrants in the world2

  • The overall number of international migrants has increased in the last few years from the estimated 152 million in 1990 to 173 million in 2000 and to 272 million in the present.3
  • The number of persons migrated to foreign countries surged by 56% (98 million) in the last 19 years (2000-2019).

5.: The migrants would constitute the fifth most populous country in the world

  • If international migrants lived in one state, they would constitute the fifth most populous country in the world, after China, India, the United States and Indonesia.

3.5%: The percentage of migrants in the global population4

  • In other words, one out of 28 persons in the world is currently a migrant who lives abroad; in 1990, one out of every 35 persons was considered a migrant.
  • The percentage of migrants in the global population increased from 2.9% in 1990 to 3.5% in 2019.
  • In more developed regions (Europe and Northern America, plus Australia, New Zealand and Japan), almost 12 of every 100 inhabitants are international migrants, compared to only 2 in 100 in less developed regions (Africa, Asia excluding Japan, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand.)
  • The percentage of migrants in each country varies considerably. The countries with the highest percentage are the United Arab Emirates (87.9%), Qatar (78.7%), Kuwait (72.1%), Monaco (68%) and Liechtenstein (67%).
  • Countries with the lowest percentage of migrants are represented by Somalia, Lesotho and Morocco (0.3% each), the Philippines, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Haiti and Sri Lanka (0.2% each), China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Madagascar and Viet Nam (0.1%each); from the European Union Slovakia (3.4%), Bulgaria and Romania (2.4% each) and Poland (1.7%).5

1/7: Every seventh person in the world is a migrant

  • The estimated number of internal migrants (migrants inside of their country of origin) is 763 million.6 Together with the international migrants there is more than a billion of migrants in the world – every seventh person in the world is a migrant.

10: About one-half of the international migrants live in ten countries of the world7

  • In 2019, two-thirds of all international migrants were living in just 20 countries.
  • The majority of all international migrants live in the United States of America (50.7 million, or 18.6% of the world’s total), followed by Germany and Saudi Arabia with 13.1 million of migrants (each), the Russian Federation (11.6 m), the United Kingdom (9.5 m), the United Arab Emirates (8.6 m), France (8.3 m), Canada (8 m), Australia (7.6 m), and Italy with 6.3 million of migrants.8

82.3 million: Europe is the most attractive destination for migrants

  • In 2019, almost one third (30.3%) of the total number of international migrants lived here.9
  • Europe is followed by North America (58.6 million, of which 50.7 million resides in the United States of America) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (48.6 million).
  • Between 2010 and 2019, the fastest increase in the number of international migrants was observed in Northern Africa and Western Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa.10

39.9 million: The number of migrants in the countries of the EU in 201711

  • Migrants made up 7.8% of persons living in the EU Member States.
  • From the overall number of migrants, 17.6 million migrants were residents of another EU country and the remaining 22.3 million were people with citizenship of a non-member country (representing 4.4% of the 512.4 million people living in the EU).
  • Three-quarters (76%) of non-nationals living in the EU Member States were found in 5 EU Member States: Germany (9.7 million), the United Kingdom (6.3 m), Italy (5.1 m), France (4.7 m) and Spain (4.6 m).

47.9%: Percentage of women in the world migration12

  • In total, 130.2 million female migrants were in the world in 2019.
  • Women accounted for more than one half of the international migrants in 101 countries of the world.
  • Among the countries with the highest representation of women was Nepal, Hong Kong, SAR of China, Latvia, Montenegro and Kyrgyzstan.

39: The median age of all international migrants – compared with 30.9 years in the general world population13

  • One out of every seven international migrants (13.9% or 38 million of the global migrant stock) was under the age of 20.
  • Three-quarters of the total population of migrants (74.2% or 202 million) were of working age between 20 and 64 years.
  • The world hosted 11.8 percent (32 million) of international migrants of the global migrant stock aged 65 or over.14

689 billion $: Estimated volume of remittances (financial resources) sent to home countries by migrants in 201815

  • The remittances have increased from 132 billion USD in 2000 to 470 billion USD in 2010 and 689 billion USD in the present.
  • In 2018, the recipient countries with the highest volume of documented remittances were India (78.6 billion), China (67.4 b), Mexiko (35.5 b), the Philippines (33.8 b) and France (27 b).16
  • It is estimated that the real volume of remittances, including undocumented formal and informal remittance flows is significantly higher.
  • Until 2020, the estimated volume of remittances is supposed to increase to 746 billion USD.

529 billion $: The estimated volume of remittances, which were sent by migrants to developing countries in 201817

41.3 million: The number of internally displaced persons in 55 countries and territories in 201818

  • This number of internally displaced persons that had been forced to flee their homes by armed conflict and generalised violence, and were living in displacement within the borders of their own country, increased from 21 million in 2000 to 41.3 million at the end of 2018.
  • Three-quarters (30.9 million) of the world’s internally displaced people as a result of conflict and violence live in just 10 countries: Syria (6.1 million), Colombia (5.8 m), Democratic Republic of Congo (3.1 m), Somalia and Afghanistan (2.6 m each), Yemen (2.3 m), Nigeria (2.2 m), Ethiopia and Sudan (2.1 m each) and Iraq (2 m).
  • In 2018, 28 million new displacements associated with conflict and disasters were recorded – that is 1 person forced to flee every 1 second.
  • Of all new displacement in 2018, 10.8 million was triggered by conflict and violence (11.8 million in 2017), and 17.2 million was affected by natural disasters (18.8 million in 2017).
  • More than half of newly displaced people come from only five countries: the Philippines, China, Ethiopia, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo.19

25.9 million: Estimated number of refugees in the world in 201820

  • Together with 41.3 million internally displaced persons and 3.5 million asylum seekers there were 70.8 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons in 2018.
  • Two-thirds (67%) of all refugees worldwide come from just five countries: Syria (6.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 m), South Sudan (2.3 m), Myanmar (1.1 m), and Somalia (0.9 m).
  • For several consecutive years Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees and with 3.7 million refugees (of which 3.6 million Syrian refugees) it became the largest refugee-hosting country worldwide. It was followed by Pakistan (1.4 m), Uganda (1.2 m), Sudan and Germany (1.1 m each).
  • The largest number of refugees in proportion to the national population is in Lebanon, where 1 in 6 people was a refugee under the responsibility of UNHCR.21
  • Nearly 4 out of every 5 refugees lived in countries neighbouring their countries of origin.
  • In 2018, 581 thousand first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the EU with 638 thousand asylum seekers in total.
  • The largest group of first-time applicants came from Syria (81,000 or 13.9%). Afghanis accounted for 7.1% of the total number of first-time asylum applicants and Iraqis for 6.8 %, while Pakistanis and Iranians for 4.3 % and 4.0 % respectively.
  • One third of the refugees who apply for asylum in Europe submit their application in Germany (28% or 162,000 first-time applicants in 2018). It was followed by France (110 thousand), Greece (65 thousand), Spain (53 thousand), Italy (49 thousand), and the United Kingdom (37 thousand).22

1 Divinský, B., Migration Trends in the Slovak Republic after Its Accession to the EU (2004-2008), International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2009, p. 12 (https://iom.sk/sk/publikacie?download=106:migracne-trendy-v-slovenskej-republike-po-vstupe-krajiny-do-eu-2004-2008).
2 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (UN DESA) – International Migrant Stock 2019, Workbook: UN_MigrantStockTotal_2019.xlsx (https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/data/estimates2/data/UN_MigrantStockTotal_2019.xlsx), UN DESA – International Migrant Stock 2019. Ten Key Messages (https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/migrationreport/docs/MigrationStock2019_TenKeyFindings.pdf), UN DESA – International Migration 2019 Wallchart (https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/wallchart/docs/MigrationStock2019_Wallchart.pdf).
3 Look at [2].
4 Look at [2].
5 Look at [2].
6 UN DESA – Technical Paper No. 2013/1 – Cross-national comparisons of internal migration: An update on global patterns and trends (http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/technical/TP2013-1.pdf).
7 Look at [2].
8 Look at [2].
9 Look at [2].
10 UN DESA – Population Facts, No. 2019/4 (https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/populationfacts/docs/MigrationStock2019_PopFacts_2019-04.pdf).
11 Eurostat – Migration and migrant population statistics (k 1. 1. 2018) (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Migration_and_migrant_population_statistics).
12 Look at [2].
13 Look at [2] and UN DESA – World Population Prospects, The 2017 Revision 2019, Median Age of Population (https://population.un.org/wpp/Download/Files/1_Indicators%20(Standard)/EXCEL_FILES/1_Population/WPP2019_POP_F05_MEDIAN_AGE.xlsx).
14 Look at [2] and UN DESA – International Migrant Stock 2019, Workbook: UN_Migrant StockByAgeAndSex_2019.xlsx (https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/data/estimates2/data/UN_MigrantStockByAgeAndSex_2019.xlsx)
15 The World Bank – Migration and Development Brief 31, April 2019 (https://www.knomad.org/sites/default/files/2019-04/Migrationanddevelopmentbrief31.pdf), Migration and Development Brief 2, November 2006 (http://pubdocs.worldbank.org/en/372901444756856754/MigrationDevelopmentBriefingNov2006.pdf).
16 The World Bank – Migration and Remittances, Annual Remittances Data as of October 2019 (https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/labormarkets/brief/migration-and-remittances).
17 Look at [15].
18 Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) (http://www.internal-displacement.org).
19 IDMC – Global Report on Internal Displacement 2019 (http://www.internal-displacement.org/global-report/grid2019/).
20 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – Global Trends. Forced displacement in 2018 (https://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2018/). The number includes also 5.5 million Palestinian refugees registered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
21 When Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate are included, the figures rise as follows: 1 in 5 people was a refugee in Lebanon and 1 in 3 people was a refugee in Jordan.
22 Eurostat – Asylum Statistics (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics).

Last updated on 5 November 2019.