More people are moving around the world than ever before. More than 250 million currently live in a country in which they were not born. In the past three decades, the number of international migrants rose by nearly 70 percent, with the bulk of this increase occurring after 2005.

The World’s International Migrants


Although the number of migrants is at a record high, most migrants come from a relatively small number of countries: for instance, one-third of all international migrants come from just ten countries.

Top Ten Origins of Migrants

India is the top country of origin for migrants, with more than 16 million of its people living in foreign countries. Although Indian migrants are the largest group coming from a single country, they only represent 1 percent of India’s total population. Smaller countries actually have larger percentages of their populations going abroad. For example, around 50 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s population of about 3.5 million people lives elsewhere.

Migrants by Origin 2017

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Although migrants work and settle in locations all over the globe, the majority are hosted by relatively few countries, with half of all migrants living in just ten countries.

Top Ten Destinations of Migrants

These countries are more economically advanced too. In 2017, high-income nations hosted 64 percent of international migrants. In fact, nearly one-fifth of all international migrants reside in the United States alone.

Migrants by Destination 2017

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The countries that host large numbers of migrants change in response to economic and political developments, as well as conflict, persecution, natural disasters, and other crises. From 2010 to 2017, the three largest bilateral corridors (or migration flow between two countries) consisted of refugee movements, fueled largely by the civil war in Syria. This represents a change from previous decades, when the largest migration corridors consisted mainly of economic migrants.


Twenty-four people are displaced every minute. The world’s refugee population is at a record high, and their origins and destinations are dominated by just a few countries. For example, more than half of all refugees come from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan.

Top Ten Source Countries of Refugees

Top Ten Host Countries of Refugees

For the most part, refugees end up in countries near those that they fled, sometimes in temporary refugee camps run by host governments or the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and sometimes by striking out on their own. For example, as a result of the civil war in Syria, neighboring Turkey currently hosts the world’s largest refugee population of 3.7 million refugees.

Although more than 90 percent of these refugees do not live in camps and often reside in urban areas, 230,000 refugees live in two dozen Turkish-run camps in which shelter, food, and other services are available. UNHCR advises and supports the Turkish government’s refugee assistance operations by verifying the information Syrian refugees provide, giving money and supplies to those in need, and coordinating access to education.

Low- and middle-income countries such as Turkey are home to 84 percent of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers, but most asylum claims are received by high-income countries that offer better economic prospects. Among those, Germany has received the most individual asylum applications of any country since 2015.

Top Ten Recipients of New Asylum Claims

The number of international migrants is at its highest level since World War II - and possibly ever. With more than 65 million forcibly displaced people (a total greater than the population of the United Kingdom) driving migration today, this upward trend is expected to continue, as the conflicts fueling much of this displacement continue to wear on.

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